TigerNet.com
Friday, December 27, 2013 5:16 PM
All Hands on Deck
by David Hood
Senior Writer

CLEMSON – All hands are on deck as the Tigers make final preparations before heading to Miami.

Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers will have two more practices before flying to Miami on Sunday for the week leading up to the Orange Bowl, and Swinney said that everyone is eligible and healthy heading into the showdown with Ohio State.

“Everybody is eligible. We had one walk-on – Fesser Bell – who didn’t get all of his hours, but on the travel squad everybody is eligible,” Swinney said Friday evening after practice. “Everybody is ready to go.”

Health wise, may players had scopes to clean up lingering issues that occurred throughout the season, but Swinney said that everyone is back and healthy.

“We’re in good shape from a health standpoint,” Swinney said. “We scrimmaged today. We did some live work with our varsity, but then we scrimmaged after practice. It was good to see Carlos Watkins and Kevin Dodd get a little bit of work in. They are working their way back into full shape. Health wise we are good. We had some guys that cleaned up a few things that were lingering. We’ll have a few more guys once this is done that they need to get cleaned up.”

Included in that group is sophomore running back Zac Brooks, who injured his shoulder during the season, but Swinney said after three weeks of rest, Brooks is ready to go.

“He [Brooks] looks good. He is one of the guys that had a scope done on his shoulder – his labrum,” Swinney said. “He feels a lot better and has practiced. We did that right after the South Carolina game. He’s had a lot of time to get better.”

Swinney’s team reconvened in Clemson Thursday afternoon after having four days off for the Christmas holiday, but Clemson’s head man said there was no hangover after the long break.

“We came back last night and started practicing,” Swinney said. “After being off for four days, I thought they were very engaged and had a lot of retention of what we got done before the Christmas break. Today was really good. We had some really good competitive work. A lot of enthusiasm from both sides. It was a really good way to wrap up the pads part of it. Again, from this point on it’s about finishing the game plan off. When we get down there, we’ll be polishing and attention to details and it’s all about execution.”

The Tigers will have two more practices in Clemson before traveling to Miami Sunday afternoon to begin their game week preparations.

“Going down to Miami is a really good way to finish up our prep here,” Swinney said. “Tomorrow will be more of a teaching type practice. And then, Sunday we’ll come in here and begin our game week prep. We’ll have a normal Monday type practice. I really like how they came back practicing.”

Other notes

On the draft eligible juniors

“I’ve met with the guys who submitted their paperwork one time. They actually just got their grades back. I’m in the process of meeting with those guys. I met with a couple of them today and will meet with a couple more of them tomorrow to just go over the information that we have and helping them make a good decision whether it’s answering questions or giving them an opinion. Ultimately they make the decision and we support them and we move forward.

“Not until I have a chance to talk to all of them. You probably won’t hear anything from them either because everybody is focused on winning this game. If anybody is going to leave, you’ll hear about it pretty quickly after the game.”

On Sammy Watkins “grade”

“I’m not going to get into the grades that any of these guys got. I think we all know that Sammy Watkins is pretty good. I don’t know how much more confirmation we need on that guy. They are all about where I thought they’d be from a grade standpoint.”



David Hood can be reached at davidhood@tigernet.com