Swinney says long recruiting trips helped him prepare for Notre Dame
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says he has been more ahead from a prep standpoint than he has ever been at this stage for a bowl game.
The Tigers began bowl practice on Wednesday at the Poe Indoor Practice Facility as No. 2 Clemson gets set to prepare for third-ranked Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff Semifinals at the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas.
What’s the difference this year as opposed to years past?
“I have had a lot of plane time,” Swinney said Wednesday following a short practice. “I have had a lot of long legs, so I have had a lot of time. Usually, my plane time is up and down and in and out and it is kind of hard to get situated. But I have had a lot time.”
Swinney said he has used the extra time to study up on the Irish, who enter the 83rd Cotton Bowl Classic on Dec. 29 with a 12-0 record. The coaching staff has already studied Notre Dame on both sides.
“I have a good feel for who they are and what we have to do from a prep standpoint, and it is the same thing with our staff,” he said.
The coaching staff met together for a “staff day” Sunday and Monday before heading out Monday evening to recruit. Tuesday was also a recruiting day for the staff. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will be a little bit of a mix of prep work as well as recruiting.
Clemson’s coaches were already hitting the recruiting trail following practice on Wednesday. The early signing period begins a week from today. Currently, according to Rivals, Clemson has the No. 5 recruiting class in the country.
The Tigers (13-0) will practice through next Wednesday before taking Thursday, Friday and Saturday off, so they can go home and spend time with their families. They will reconvene for practice on Dec. 23 and will leave for Dallas later that afternoon.
“We are going to grind up here for the next week and then we will give them Thursday, Friday and Saturday, it is almost like an open date kind of schedule for us,” Swinney said. “Then we will come back in here Sunday morning for meetings and a lite practice and then we will head to Dallas on the twenty third.”
The Clemson coach said the next week will be about drawing from their experiences from the past four years. He was honest when asked if going through it as many times as they have if it gave the Tigers an advantage over Notre Dame.
“It definitely helps,” Swinney said. “We all drawn on our own experiences, good and bad as you go through whatever it is that you are doing. This is our fourth time in a row and we have been in a lot of big ball games and stuff, so I think we have learned a lot over the years.
“I think we have a good formula that we believe in as far as when we get ready and a good balance.”
One thing Swinney has learned in the Tigers’ three previous runs to the playoff is how good every team is and how a couple of plays is the difference between winning and losing a game.
“You have to play well. You have to prepare well, and for us it is about having the right balance,” he said. “Getting our opponent prep done, but also really sharpening ourselves up from a fundamental and technique standpoint. This is a long (break) from a physicality standpoint, so you have to make sure you have a good mixture of good-on-good. You can’t just show up on Dec. 29 and start tackling somebody.
“You have to have good balance, so our experience really helps us as far as striking the balance that we need from a preparations standpoint and how we manage the schedule.”