NEW ORLEANS — Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says the top-ranked Tigers are ready when they face No. 4 Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinals at the Sugar Bowl on Monday.
On Saturday, the Tigers and Alabama participated in Media Day in the Superdome in New Orleans.
“Today is a fun day,” Swinney said. “It’s fun for our players to have an opportunity to come. It’s the first time they’ve been in the Dome. So it’s a chance to come in here and see the Dome and hang out with (the media) a little bit.
“It’s a Thursday for us. That’s our mindset as far as getting ready for the game. So today’s a big day.”
The Tigers (12-1) will have their last practice at Tulane University where they have practiced since getting to New Orleans on Dec. 27.
“We’ve had good practices here,” Swinney said. “I like the focus and the mindset that I’ve seen in practice. As a coach, that’s kind of how you gauge the readiness of your team. These guys are well‑prepared for what they’re going to have to compete against Monday night.”
What Clemson is going to compete against on Monday night in the Sugar Bowl is an Alabama team that seems extremely focused. Most of the Alabama players stayed to the company line on Saturday and really did not want to answer any of the off the wall questions that are usually asked on media day.
Clemson players on the other hand danced around and answered pretty much everything that was asked to them, and, more importantly, they had fun. Basically, the Clemson players just followed their coach’s lead.
“I don’t know how to be anything but myself,” Swinney said. “So I personally don’t think you can be very successful if you don’t just be who you are. So, I mean, that’s how I got here. I’ve just always kind of embraced who I am. I don’t really worry about anything else. I just try to trust my instincts.”
It was not all fun on Saturday. The Tigers also had practice, where Swinney said it is a big day in their preparation.
“It’s what we call Team Thursday where we kind of bring it all together,” he said. “We’ve been prepping for a long time. And I know the guys are starting to get excited. But we really have to start honing in on each player individually, coaches, everybody, really locking it in and getting themselves ready to go.”
Swinney says Clemson has enjoyed itself in New Orleans, but now they are ready to play some football.
“We appreciate the Sugar Bowl folks,” he said. “They made it a great experience for us, but, really, we’re just ready to go and can’t wait to see this place filled up and run out here and compete against the best of the best.”