Practice Nuggets: If you had one shot, would you capture it or let it slip?


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Clemson will have a similar flag fly over the new football operations center
Clemson will have a similar flag fly over the new football operations center

TAMPA, FL – If you had one shot, would you capture it, or let it slip?

Second-ranked Clemson practiced at the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday afternoon, the ocean breeze causing more than a ripple in the massive flag that flies over the Bucs’ football complex. As the team stretched and began the practice, the first song began to blast over the speakers.

It belonged to Eminem, and it was Lose Yourself. The lyrics obviously had meaning for the team.

Look
If you had
One shot
Or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture it
Or just let it slip?

That’s been the focus of the Tigers since the win over Ohio St. in the Fiesta Bowl, and we were told that this has been an excellent week of practice. Saturday looked to be more of the same. The Tigers had several former players in attendance, including C.J. Spiller, Adam Humphries, Daniel Rodriguez, Eric Mac Lain and Kourtnei Brown.

Not surprisingly, they all believe the Tigers will defeat Alabama Monday night in the title game. As one of them told me, “One dynasty ends and a new one begins.”

Tampa Bay tight end Cameron Brate tagged along with Humphries to watch the practice. The Harvard grad had a nice season with the Bucs.

*The flag that flies over the Bucs’ facility is 4,000 square feet, and with the breezes blowing in strong it was unfurled and gorgeous in the late afternoon sun. We were told that Clemson fans need to get used to seeing a flag of that size – one has been ordered for the new football operations center and will fly in between the practice fields and the building.

*Part of the talk at practice – and we’ll have more on it later today – centered on how Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s team has won so much that he has to create a “chip” in an effort to motivate his team. Alabama’s players and coaches walked around the media day earlier Saturday talking about they were angry that Clemson scored 40 last season, and how this game was about redemption. Heck, there were even some players talking like little old Alabama was a prohibitive underdog.

One person told me that it’s never wise to doubt the motivational tactics of Nick Saban, but that maybe they’ve won so much he’s beginning to reach. Clemson’s players laughed at the notion, and I was told that it’s a little hard to create that sense of anger in a short week.

On the flip side, Clemson’s players have had to live with the loss for almost 365 days.

*One final thought – with the game two days away, I wanted to see if Clemson’s practice was loose or if the players looked tight. With “In the Air Tonight” blasting over the field, quarterback Deshaun Watson moved and danced, and the rest of the team followed suit.

It’s hard to tell the real mood of the team from a portion of practice, but from everything we’ve seen and heard this team is firing on all cylinders. If you had one shot, would you capture it, or let it slip?

We’ll find out Monday.


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