One reason why Clemson’s football program has found itself in the mix so much for the College Football Playoff is due to its teams’ readiness.
Thanks to a season that has extended way into January in four of the last five years, the Tigers open the following spring already in football shape both mentally and physically. In fact, the 2020 Clemson team had its first meeting three days after the 2019 team returned from the national championship game in New Orleans.
“We literally had our first team meeting the Friday we got back from the national championship,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “It is hard to believe it has only been like six weeks. It was just over six weeks ago we were in season. But I really like it, to be honest with you.
“I like to turn the page. I like to get back to work. My experience as a coach, the longer the gap is the more you try to do as a coach. I think you get away from the fundamentals, the techniques, quality control and things you need to improve on as a team … (the attitude) has been really good.”
The Tigers began spring practices on Wednesday and will pick up with Day 2 of the spring this afternoon at the Allen Reeves Football Complex in Clemson. They will also practice on Saturday.
“The spirit of our team is great. Our leadership is good. There is no question we are way ahead of where we were last spring,” Swinney said. “It is really not in the same hemisphere from where we were first practice last spring. So, I am excited about it.”
Prior to spring practice beginning, the Clemson coaches spent three days of self-scouting itself and going through its quality control program. Some of the things that came out it was part of the message Swinney delivered to his team before they hit the practice field for the first time on Wednesday.
Swinney stressed the little things were very important … leadership, chemistry, earn the right to play, daily focus, how they practice and the practice expectations.
“We got to get those little things right before everything else takes shape,” he said. “This is a good group, a fun group, a good-looking football team. We are really blessed because we have pretty much our whole team here. We got about eight guys that will show up this summer, but with 15 mid-years, we have a lot of bodies and a lot of depth that we can develop this spring.”
Clemson concludes spring practice with its annual Orange & White Game on April 4 at Death Valley. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m., and it will be televised by the ACC Network.