Quotable: Clemson, Oklahoma at team arrival

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Dabo Swinney Photo
Position: Head Coach

The Clemson University Tigers arrived at Sheltair Aviation at Ft. Lauderdale Jet Center late-afternoon today for their December 31 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl game against the No. 4 ranked University of Oklahoma Sooners.

Dabo Swinney – Head Coach

On arriving in South Florida:

“Good to be out here guys. It’s been a great day, first of all. We had a great start to the week for us. Today is kinda like a Monday for us. We had excellent meetings and practice back in Clemson today, and the weather was beautiful and around 80 degrees, so we actually practiced in the stadium. Smooth flight down and ready to get to the hotel, get settled in, and get on with it.”

On his message to the team:

“Continue to be who we are. It’s all about our preparation. This is a game that is going to come down to execution and the little things. Just taking ownership of our playing each and every day, we still have some time to get prepared, but enjoying it as well.”

On if this game feels any different:

“Well, we’ve been here for a couple of these. It’s always neat when you come to the Orange Bowl because you don’t usually have a welcome like this. The guys are excited because they know we’re in the final four. We started the year with hopes to achieve this. To get on the plane today and know that it’s finally here, it’s finally game week, we had great preparation prior to taking a break for Christmas, then got refocused today. But to get on the plane and actually get here, you feel like now it’s time to go.”

On if this year’s CFP Semifinal prep is any different than normal bowl prep:

“For us we had the ACC Championship game this year, so we didn’t have quite as much time as we normally would have, but we made good use of our time and tried to change it up so it wasn’t all just game prep. To win these games, you’ve got to play well. We’ve had success these past few years because we’ve played well, made the key plays at critical times. This is a fourth quarter game and we’ve just got to give ourselves a chance to find a way to win in the fourth quarter.”

On seeing himself on the Clemson-wrapped Capital One Orange Bowl busses:

“Seeing this bus means we’re at the Orange Bowl. When we first came down here a few years ago, everybody was really blown away. It was the first time we’d been to a bowl game where they wrapped all the buses. It kind of lets you know, ‘Hey, we’re not in Kansas anymore.’ It’s a little different deal. We’re just fortunate and blessed to be here and hope we can represent well.”

On practice earlier today:

“It was great. Really really really good. Good meetings. We met at 9 this morning and everyone was early and they were dialed in and ready to get to work. We probably had one of the best practices we’ve had all year. It was a good Monday-type practice for us.”

On playing Oklahoma again after last year’s bowl game:

“Well that has nothing to do with this year. They’re a different team; we’re a different team. They’ve had a great year; we’ve had a great year. Both teams want to win so motivation won’t be an issue for either team. It’s just going to be who plays well. It’s the little things...taking care of the ball, big plays, just finding a way to play a little bit better than your opponent. That’s all it’s going to come down to. Last year’s game was a game that got away from them kind of quickly and I’ve been on both sides of that. But it’s not indicative of the team they are. They were very talented last year and this year they’re one of the final four teams in the nation. You don’t get voted into this deal, you earn it. They earned it just like we did. It will be a great, great matchup.”

On team’s health after the break:

“This is like an opener all over again. It’s like coming out of camp. Camp’s over and you’ve got 10 days to kind of get them fresh and ready for the opener. It’s kind of what it feels like. Everyone’s excited to play and we’re in great shape physically.”

Eric Mac Lain – Gr., Offensive Guard

What’s like arriving in Ft. Lauderdale to water cannons and fanfare:

“This is very cool. It’s a very special event. They usually shoot off water cannons when pilots are retiring and big people come to town. They think pretty highly of our team and this is something we’re really excited about.”

On the team practice this morning:

“Practice has been really smooth. At first we had to knock off some rust, and I think guys appreciated that and understood that. Today was really good – a lot of high energy. You expected it to be a little sluggish coming off of break and guys coming back from their families, but today was great. Guys were flying around and we’re excited to get after it.”

On in-flight thoughts:

“Today’s flight went great. It’s a much bigger plane and I was able to stretch out in first class the whole way. Mostly seniors got to sit in first class on the flight down. We’re so excited about being in this playoff. We were just ready to land. It was the longest plane ride of my life.”

Kevin Dodd – Jr., Defensive End

On the festive arrival at Fort Lauderdale Airport:

“It’s kind of exciting. I’m just glad to be in Miami with this good weather and ready to get this thing on the road.”

On how Clemson prepares for success in big bowl games:

“We know how to prepare for these games. It’s all the same, we’re going to do our “Mental Monday,” “Turnover Tuesday, and “Working Man Wednesday.” It’s a pleasure to be in this situation, but everything is going to go the same.”

On how defense reacted to end of season skid:

“We’re ready. We just kill ourselves sometimes and I know it sounds touché, but we know our problem. We just need to play four complete quarters.”

On the reality of the matchup and what each team is playing towards:

“It will be a big game for my team and it’s going to be a big game for myself. I just need to do my part and make the plays that I need to make and tackle these great running backs.

Bob Stoops – Head Coach

On what the team will do now that it's arrived in South Florida:

“Most of our team is already gathering at the hotel. We’ll have a team meeting and then go out to get lunch and start practice at 5 p.m. We’re just anxious to practice again.”

On returning to South Florida for his third Orange Bowl appearance with Oklahoma:

"It’s beautiful and there’s sunshine. The people here are fabulous. It’s great and we’re excited about the opportunity.”

On preparing for the hot weather:

“We turned up the heat in the indoor facility, but it’s a little different here though. [We put the thermostat] on as high as it would go.”

On how practice has gone since OU accepted the Orange Bowl invitation:

“Guys have practiced really well. I feel good about it. We got some guys back healthy. We prepared well last week and we had a two-day break and we’re back at it today."

On the excitement of OU players to compete in the Orange Bowl:

“This is a big opportunity. It’s not about getting here, it’s about winning it. Hopefully, our guys will keep preparing that way.”

Sterling Shepard – Sr., Wide Receiver

On his goal at OU and making to the College Football Playoff:

“I mean you come here to win championships. We are in a great position right now, so it should be fun. We’re going to have a fun week, and I can’t wait to do it.”

On practicing indoors with the heat turned up:

“It should help us out. Indoor was getting a little stuffy. They didn’t let us open the doors. I got off the plane and felt this heat and it was pretty similar to what we were practicing in, so I think it was good.”

On preparing:

“I’ve watched film all day every day. That’s all I do. They are a physical team with a physical defense. We’re just going to have to bring our A game.”

On facing Clemson last year:

“Like I’ve been saying, it’s two different years. It’s two different ball teams, so there are definitely more opportunities to make plays.”

On this being a game he grew up wanting to play in:

“Yeah, it is. My Mom was always praying that I would make it to the Orange Bowl. You know my Dad played in it, so it was definitely something I wanted to do and we’re here now."

Dominique Alexander – Jr., Linebacker

On finally arriving in South Florida:

“It’s fun. It’s something we’ve been waiting on for a long time. Something we’ve been preparing for. We’re just glad to be here.”

On being prepared for the weather:

“We’ve been practicing trying to get ready for it. We’ve been practicing in our indoor facility in hotter temperatures to get ready for this weather. “

On being in the College Football Playoff:

“We’re proud to be a part of something like this. It’s big for our program. It’s a big opportunity for to have a chance to play for the national championship. That’s what we work for each and every year. I’m just glad our hard work is paying off.”

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