With academic exams behind them, Clemson’s Tigers turned their attention solely to football on Saturday, as they worked their way through their fourth practice for the Orange Bowl.
“I thought we made each other better today,” said coach Dabo Swinney. “There was a lot of good tempo, and a lot of guys having some fun. It’s great when you have beautiful weather like this to work in.
“I think we’ve got a good plan in place as far as how we’re practicing and all that kind of stuff. Finals are over now, so we’ve got 100 percent focus on football – we’re not competing for their minds, and that’s a good thing.”
Swinney said that the Tigers’ post-practice extra sessions with the team’s youngest players – redshirting freshmen and others who’ll be counted on for increased contributions beginning in the spring – continue to be productive.
“We continue to do some post-practice work with a lot of our young guys, and that’s been good and fun to see,” said Swinney. “There are a lot of guys getting some valuable work. Hopefully they’ll gain some confidence from this as they go into the off-season and start getting ready for spring practice.”
Some notes from West Virginia official website:
…Mountaineer great Major Harris, who Clemson faced and defeated in the 1989 Gator Bowl, offered an interesting take on the unpredictable nature of bowl games.
“I always feel with the long layoff you really don’t know what type of team is going to show up,” Harris said. “You’ve got guys who are seniors thinking about turning pro. You have guys who are underclassmen and you never know, maybe the coach wants to put in the underclassmen a little more.
“Sometimes the chemistry might not be right because of the simple fact that it’s a bowl game and you took a month off. You look at some teams … they might have coaching changes, so sometimes a bowl game can be misleading, to be honest.”
…West Virginia’s first-year offensive line coach, Bill Bedenbaugh, as been dealing with depth issues all season. Bedenbaugh says he would like to have as many as 18 offensive linemen in his group to work with, but because of injuries and attrition, that number has dwindled to 14 this season with just six-to-seven of those guys really “game ready.”
…West Virginia wide receiver Stedman Bailey, who has nearly 1,200 receiving yards this season, grew up nearly in the shadow of the original Orange Bowl in Miami.
“I grew up so close to the stadium that anything happening at the Orange Bowl, I could hear from my window,” said Bailey, who is one of numerous West Virginia players from south Florida. “The Orange Bowl has always been big to me, and it’s very big to have the support we’re going to have.”
…Bailey says penalties have been particular frustrating for the Mountaineers this season.
“When you have a big play and a penalty brings it back, that’s like snatching the soul out of somebody,” Bailey said. “The penalties are on us – that’s our fault. We have to improve our technique and prevent that.”