Swinney talks about bowl game, Spiller

by - Senior Writer -
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Spiller was

CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers have been off since the end of exams last week, taking a needed break after a grueling end-of-season stretch that saw an extra week for the ACC Championship Game, and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said on Tuesday that is was good to look his players in the eye again.

“It was good to get back on the field today,” Swinney said. “Been anxious to get back to work and look them in the eye. I thought we had a really good team meeting last week where we addressed some things. They just finished up finals - these guys have had a lot on them and have been under the gun. I felt like they needed a couple of days off and they all got that. They seem much more refreshed today and focused to get to work on Kentucky. So I was pleased.

"We had a bit more than our typical Monday practice. We had pretty good conditioning at the end of practice. These next 12 days are important and that's to win the football game. We also did some JV work. We're getting our younger guys a good head start on spring practice.”

The Tigers will face SEC foe Kentucky in the Music City Bowl in Nashville on Dec. 27th, and Swinney looks like an SEC team.

"Kentucky is a typical SEC football team,” he said. “They're going to play hard for four quarters. They've really had a good season. They've had some big wins, in particular on the road. We'll have to play at a high level, much better than we have as a team for us to win this game. I'm impressed with them. They're good inside defensively. No. 91 [senior defensive lineman Corey Peters] is probably a first-day draft pick type of guy. No. 4 [senior linebacker Micah Johnson] is another guy who jumps out at you. Offensively, you better know where No. 18 [all-purpose player Randall Cobb] is. They like to play in their wildcat formation a good bit to get him touches. We'll have to be well-prepared defensively. No. 20 [junior running back Derrick Locke] is also a good player and is really fast.”

The Tigers played the Wildcats in the 2006 Music City Bowl, and lost despite being favored, and Swinney was reminded of that experience.

"Our seniors, they're the main guys who were in that game,” he said. “Certainly, they're aware that we got embarrassed the last time we went there. We weren't prepared to play and it was pretty obvious. Kentucky will bring a lot of fans there. It'll be almost like a home game. We'll have to be focused. It'll be like a road game. Hopefully we'll have a lot of fans show up. Certainly there will be a tremendous amount of blue. We don't spend a lot of time talking about three years ago.”

Swinney said that the momentum earned from winning a bowl game would be invaluable heading into spring practice.

"It's one of our goals to win this game,” he said. “You want to create momentum for your off-season. A bowl game is a part of that. Everybody is going to finish. It's a choice on how you finish. It's the last opportunity for this team to be together. There are a lot of things involved in this game. Obviously, winning this game would be meaningful and create momentum."

Swinney was asked if the players would play the game for C.J., especially considering how the senior from Lake Butler, Fla., fared in the Heisman voting.

"He was snubbed. Ain't no doubt about that,” Swinney said. “Somewhere John Heisman is not very happy right now, I can assure you. I'm obviously very proud of Mark Ingram. That's my alma mater. I'm happy to see that, personally. But I would just say that if there's a gathering in the country of the so-called best players in college football and C.J. Spiller is not there, then that's a joke. That's the bottom line. This young man is an amazing football player and he has had a tremendous year. They probably need to redefine the rules for that award.

"As far as this game, trying to prove a point, no. We're just trying to win. His actions speak loud and clear. He'll be in New York when it counts in April [for the NFL draft]."

Spiller battled injuries throughout the season, and Swinney said it will be good for Spiller to get the big break in between the ACC Championship and the bowl game.

"It'll be good for him to get this break,” he said. “He looked good out there today. We'll take it easy with him and try to have him as close to 100-percent by game time. This is a good thing for us, for him."

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