Swinney, Tigers Back At Work Preparing For Bowl

by - Senior Writer -

As expected, the Clemson Tigers were a little rusty during their first few bowl practices, and judging by the sweat on the players as they exited the practice field on a cold Saturday afternoon, head coach Dabo Swinney is making sure they run the rust off.

The players could be seen running several wind sprints as practice ran down, and most were only too happy to exit the field for a shower and change after a 10-day layoff after their win over South Carolina.

"The tempo was good, and I thought the spirit of practice was good," Swinney said. "But we were a little sloppy at times. Maybe rusty's a better word. Two weeks off and then going full speed. I'm glad we didn't play today, and I'm glad we don't play tomorrow."

Wide receiver Tyler Grisham said the Tigers worked more on fundamentals and conditioning rather than scheming for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, their opponent in the New Year's Konica Minolta Gator Bowl.

"Coach Swinney and all the coaches he has brought in, they are all working us real hard," Grisham said. "It's like summer camp right now. A lot of the guys probably don't like it, but it's what we need. We are here to win, and we are concentrating on nothing but Nebraska and the game."

Swinney said that he was not surprised to see a little sloppiness, considering the layoff and the just-completed exams that had his players' attention.

"It doesn't take long for you to lose your rhythm. You've got distractions going on, finals, and all kinds of things," he said. "It's just good to get back to work, and now it's all football. We can just study film and practice."

Swinney agreed with Grisham's assessment that these first few practices will be used to his team grounded in the basics before they start to scheme for Nebraska.

"We're already developing our game plan and things like that," he said. "But we're not throwing a bunch at them right now. We're doing some things in practice that they'll do in the game, but we're just not focusing right now on the game plan."

Swinney also commented on the work of what he called the "junior varsity", or redshirt players that finally get to be on the field with the upperclassmen. In most cases, players that have red shirted don't get to work with their position coaches during practices, instead acting as a scout team.

"I really enjoyed the JV work at the end," Swinney said. "That was really a lot of fun, just coaching those guys and watching them compete. We've got a good group of guys to work with this spring

And they enjoyed it. They had a ball because a lot of times they're just part of the group and they're obviously behind. This is their chance to really work on their position. This is what they came here to do."


Defensive end Ricky Sapp had surgery on Saturday to repair his partially torn ACL, and will miss the Gator Bowl. Linebacker Stanley Hunter suffered a sprained knee in Saturday's practice, and will miss a few days, but the injury isn't considered serious enough for him to miss the bowl game.

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