Swinney and Brooks meet with media, discuss the Music City Bowl


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Spiller's speed has Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks worried
Spiller's speed has Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks worried

NASHVILLE, TN – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and Kentucky head coach Rich Brooks met with the media Saturday afternoon in the Tennessee Titans interview room underneath LP Field, the site of Sunday night’s Music City Bowl, and as has been the case all season, Clemson’s C.J. Spiller was a hot topic of conversation.

Brooks was asked if Spiller was a once-in-a-lifetime player, and how he compares to the Wildcat’s Randall Cobb, and the Kentucky head coach said Spiller’s speed is a difference maker.

"Spiller is faster than Cobb, I believe,” Brooks said. “He's a running back, whereas Cobb is a receiver-slash--quarterback. They both return, but Spiller has had a remarkable career returning seven kickoffs for touchdowns. The guy is a threat every time he touches the ball. It's one of those deals where you hold your breath every time he touches it.

“It's a combination of speed and elusiveness. Sometimes when you think you have him, all of a sudden that burst of speed will separate him from the tackler. He can run through and break tackles as well."

Swinney the fact that Cobb is a winner is what jumps out at him when he sees Kentucky’s dual-threat is on the field.

"The thing that jumps out about Cobb to me is that he's a winner,” Swinney said. “You see teams from time to time and I've seen Kentucky on a couple of occasions and every time I've seen them, he jumps out at you. He's got a great will to win. He impacts the game in a lot of different ways. Their staff has done a great job in creating opportunities for him, whether it be the wildcat or throwing to him, whatever. He's been up to the task. He plays with a lot of heart."

Brooks was reminded that different teams have had different theories on whether to kick to Spiller or away from him and give the Clemson offense good field position, and Brooks said Sunday would probably see the Wildcats do a little of both.

"I think you'll probably see us do both, kick and squib, and hopefully when we kick it to him, it won't be a disaster,” Brooks said. “It could be, but you can also have a disaster if you kick it away from him. We'll mix it up but the only thing I hope is that we have a lot of chances to kickoff. I'm not real confident about that right now."

With temperatures expected to be in the lower thirties, or even upper twenties when the game kicks off on Sunday, both coaches were asked if they expect the cold to be a factor with their teams.

”Those are things you don't have control over,” Swinney said. “You only have control over the sense of urgency you play with, taking care of the football which is a big factor every week, and executing. The reason we won the division was because we were one of the better teams in the country in taking care of the football."

Brooks said that after watching last week’s windswept Las Vegas Bowl, his only hope is that the wind favors the Wildcats.

"I just hope that every time we punt, kick or pass, the wind is at our back. The Las Vegas Bowl - the wind was a clear factor in that one. My alma mater had two six yard punts. That's always a scary thought, let alone turnovers and takeaways. We've done well in games where we haven't turned it over. It's critically important when you haven't played a game in about a month. You don't know how players will respond. Getting hit and going live full tilt, then protection is paramount."

Both coaches were asked about the condition of the LP Field turf, especially after both teams complained that the sod was a mess during the 2006 game, and Swinney said that even after Friday night’s Chargers-Titans game, the field was in good shape.

“Compared to three years ago, it’s like Augusta National right now,” Swinney said.
Brooks was then asked if any Tigers, other than Spiller, jumped out at him during film study, and he said there were several.

"On defense, that whole front seven is just very impressive,” Brooks said. “The secondary covers as well as anybody and they're very good tacklers. A lot of people look impressive athletically but Clemson does not. They tackle well. And I'm extremely impressed with their young quarterback. He buys time; he has vision down the field and has a quick release. They have a variety of receivers. This probably is the best combination of tight ends we've played all season. They have two really good tight ends who give you problems."

**OTHER NOTES: Swinney said that with the team having to spend Christmas in Nashville and away from their families, the coaching staff tried to plan activities that kept the team loose and together. He said that the seniors performed the 12 Days of Christmas, and senior Ricky Sapp provided the bass in singing “Five Golden Rings” and that it drew roars of approval from his teammates.
**

Swinney said that team also performed karaoke, and he was impressed with the off-the-cuff performance of Marcus Gilchrist and Crezdon Butler. The worst performance was the unlikely duet of tight end Dwayne Allen and offensive lineman Landon Walker.

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