Wednesday night update: Gnawing on bones, little girls take over practice


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Swinney talks to the media Wednesday night
Swinney talks to the media Wednesday night

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney ended Working Man Wednesday practice two periods early, and kicker Alex Spence put an exclamation point on the proceedings with a 34-yard field goal under a full rush. Once practice was over, family time took precedence.

No. 2 Clemson practiced for two hours Wednesday afternoon in preparation for Saturday’s visit to No.12 Virginia Tech, and head coach Dabo Swinney was in a good mood as he met with the media following the session.

“It was good. One of our better Wednesdays, actually,” Swinney said. “Good energy. Good focus. Good finish to practice. We had a little two-minute drill and Spence knocked it down (from 34 yards). We ended up having a field goal opportunity so it was a really good finish.”

He then said he was already looking forward to Saturday night.

“Absolutely. These guys love to play. This will be a great environment,” Swinney said “You’ve got two undefeated teams. Somebody is going to win and somebody is going to lose. Anytime we’ve got an opportunity to light the scoreboard up and determine a winner or loser, these guys are always ready to play. We’ve just got to put the work in and stay committed to the grind. That’s what it takes, but it’s been a good week so far.”

What is Working Man Wednesday?

“It’s our daily focus. It’s mid-week. It’s just a mindset you’ve got to have. You’ve been grinding Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It’s the last day of pads,” Swinney said. “It’s just bringing that right mindset out here with good football focus. Also, it’s a routine for the day as far as this is what we do on Working Man Wednesday. This is our practice schedule, our meetings. We have a team meeting that’s individualized for that day. It’s truly a daily focus. It gives us good routine. That’s what we try to keep around here, a good, solid routine.”

As the players filed out of the indoor facility and into the new football operations complex, the squeals of children were heard. Wednesday night is also family night – the coaches, staff, and players all invite their families in for the evening meal, giving everyone a chance to connect with their loved ones.

“I love that. I know when I came here as a young coach - I was 33 and I had a four-year-old, a three-year-old and one on the way - there were no little kids. It was just the Batsons - Michael and Ben - and other than that there no little kids,” Swinney said. “Everybody was in different stages of life. As our staff has grown, we have a lot of young people. I love the energy. I love seeing them out at practice playing. it used to just thrill me to see my boys come to practice and watch them get over there with all of the other little boys. They didn’t care what was going on because they had their own little game going on and I love that.”

Once upon a time it was all boys, but now squeals of laughter can be heard from the little girls.

“We have a lot of little girls now with the staff and I’ve never really been around little girls,” Swinney said. “I’m from three boys and we’ve got seven boys between us. My mom had 10 straight boys - three sons and seven grandsons. On my wife’s side, her two sisters had four boys and no girls, so I’ve never been around little girls. I love to be around all of these little girls. Brent (Venables) has two different worlds. He has Tyler and Jake, who are gnawing on bones. Then you’ve got these cute little girls in Delaney and Addie, who are in their little tutu dresses. It’s awesome to watch him and how he has to transition. We have a bunch of girls and a bunch of kids and it brings a great energy. It’s great for our players to be around them and to see what family looks like. Some of them come from great families and they know what that looks like and some of them don’t and they don’t really know. It’s an opportunity to create the right atmosphere. I love it. It never gets old.”

Injuries

“No change. It looks like Trayvon (Mullen) is going to be available. He was able to practice today. Mark Fields practiced all day yesterday. He did everything and looks good. It looks like we’re going to be in pretty good shape. Adam Choice kind of rolled his ankle. He should be fine. Maverick (Morris) has practiced all week. We’re pretty good right now except for a couple of guys who have been out - D.J. Greenlee and Marcus Edmond. Greenlee isn’t quite there. We were hoping he’d be able to go this week, but he’s still not quite ready. Marcus is still getting better. It’s a mid-foot sprain and he’s a DB, so it’s got to get right. I’m hopeful we’ll get him back soon.”

Having Brent Venables and Bud Foster in the same stadium

“As a lifetime offensive guy, I have a great appreciation for great defensive coaches. That’s two of the best ever. Bud is a great coach. He’s one of those guys who has been so loyal to the school and loves what he does. Brent is the same way. He loves what he does and is so passionate about it. It’s not always fun to go against that every day in practice, but I just have great respect for those guys.”

If he looked ahead and saw the success they’ve had (64-9) since the start of the 2012 season

“After that West Virginia game when we weren’t ever going to win another game. The world was over, right? We were doomed and gloomed. Absolutely. Heck yeah. I saw it in 2008. It’s a process. It’s a journey. You just slowly create what you see through your daily actions, the people you involve yourself with, recruiting, discipline, adversity, all of that. I wish it hadn’t taken us eight years to win the national championship. I wish we could’ve won it in year four or year three, year two, year six, but it didn’t happen. It’s all part of our journey. Brent, it has been awesome having him here. Tony and Jeff, Streeter, check their records. It’s pretty good and those old boys have done an awesome job for us. We have a good, good group that we try to keep the main thing the main thing around here.”

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