Tigers focused on task at hand - winning the Orange Bowl

by - Senior Writer -
Dwayne Allen said winning the Orange Bowl is his only focus

CLEMSON – The players on the Clemson football team will reap the rewards of a successful season when they arrive in Miami on Tuesday for the festivities leading up to the Orange Bowl.

The Tigers will kick it off against the West Virginia Mountaineers on January 4th, but the week preceding that will be spent with the normal day-to-day football operations of practice and meetings. The downtime, however, promises to have more going for it than the last two bowl games – spent in cold-as-ice Nashville two years ago and rather pedestrian Charlotte last season.

The Orange Bowl promises to let the players picnic on the beach, ride jet-skis, and have a New Year’s celebration on South Beach, so the chances to get away from football will be plentiful and – let’s face it – fun.

So it would be easy for the players to take their focus away from winning a BCS bowl and instead fall victim to the fun and pleasure of Miami in late December and early January, with the football game an afterthought.

Won’t happen, according to tight end Dwayne AllenDwayne Allen
RS Jr. Tight End
#83 6-3, 255
Fayetteville, NC

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. He said that the Tigers were not happy with falling to the Music City Bowl two years ago, especially after being so close to the Orange Bowl before a late loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship Game.

That loss dropped the Tigers to the Music City Bowl in Nashville against Kentucky.

“Nobody wanted to be in Nashville (for the 2009 Music City Bowl),” the junior tight end said. “Quite simply, those were games we didn’t want to play in, we didn’t want to be in those cities.”

The Orange Bowl, however, is a different matter.

“Going to South Florida, this was what we worked for all season long. This is what we want,” he said. “There are going to be a lot of distractions, but I’m sure it’s not going to be a problem for the guys. We have one goal: an Orange Bowl championship.”

He said Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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refuses to let the team lose its concentration this close to the prize.

For now, coach Dabo Swinney has kept his team’s focus squarely on final exams and on-campus prep; Allen said last Tuesday that he and his teammates have yet to receive the bowl itinerary.

“Coach Swinney doesn’t allow us to look forward,” he said. “All we’re focused on is our preparation here and keeping a physical swagger.”

He said that there are team leaders – like himself and Landon WalkerLandon Walker
Gr. Offensive Tackle
#72 6-6, 305
North Wilkesboro, NC

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and Dalton FreemanDalton Freeman
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#55 6-5, 285
Pelion, SC

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– who also are helping the team keep their edge.

“It’s great leadership from the upperclassmen and some underclassmen,” Allen said. “We’ve had focus on what they need to do, how to carry themselves in certain situations. We’re going to south Florida with all the distractions – we can have a little fun, but we’re going down there to win.

“We want to win the Orange Bowl, that’s what’s important to us,” he said. “A trophy coming down there, that’s what we want. We don’t just want to have ‘Orange Bowl’ on our rings. We want to have ‘Orange Bowl champions.’ “

Junior wide receiver Jaron BrownJaron Brown
RS Jr. Wide Receiver
#18 6-2, 200
Cheraw, SC

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said this team is different than teams in year’s past.

“Our guys have to maintain that focus, because we are obviously going down there to win the Orange Bowl,” Brown said. “The rest of that stuff doesn’t matter. Winning an Orange Bowl is something that hasn’t happened here in quite a while. We have to execute our plan. The coaches do a great job of keeping us focused. If we get off track, they get us back on track really quick.”

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