Dabo Swinney tweaks Tigers' bowl prep, but sees no magic formula to playing well

'The teams that...create consistency are the teams that become the cream of the crop'

Chad Morris chats with Tajh Boyd at their first bowl game football practice session on Dec. 8th

Photo by Mark Crammer

Chad Morris chats with Tajh Boyd at their first bowl game football practice session on Dec. 8th

There are at least as many ways to prepare for a bowl game as there are teams in bowls.

Given the bottom line in Clemson's Orange Bowl disaster last season, it's perhaps not surprising that Dabo Swinney changed things up a bit this time around as the Tigers worked on-campus in preparation for their Chick-fil-A Bowl game against LSU.

Swinney said Wednesday that he drew on his personal experience as he devised a preparation plan for this year's game.

"I’ve been at a lot of bowl games," Swinney said. "I’ve been to the Sugar Bowl twice, the Orange Bowl twice, the Fiesta Bowl, Chick-fil-A three times, Music City twice, Citrus, Outback, Champs. I’ve been in a bunch of bowl games. I’ve seen it done a lot of different ways. You try to grow your knowledge from all of your experiences and then you talk to other coaches.

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"We did some things differently: the amount of time on the field, the number of days in a row, the days off, conditioning, and our competitive work versus fundamental work versus LSU work. We’ve done a lot of things differently."

Swinney said that while he wanted to use to extra practice time to work on fundamentals while giving the team's youngest players the most extensive practice work of their careers, he also wanted to place a strong emphasis on competitive drills.

“We had more competitive work than we did last year - good-on-good, and more live work,” Swinney said.

He said the relative inexperience of this year's team made live work a preferable option.

"We had a lot more veteran guys last year, so we didn’t have as much live work," he said. "Most of our starters were senior OL guys and senior DL guys. This year that isn’t the case. Hopefully, it will help us."

At the same time, Swinney doesn't believe there's a magic wand that makes a team play well in a bowl game.

"I thought last year we had great preparation - we prepared well and we practiced well," he said. "But we just didn't play well in the game. I’ve been around teams that didn't practice well all week and then played great in the game, and I've had (bowl games) where we’ve had great weeks of preparation and then played bad.

"The teams that can minimize that and create consistency are the teams that become the cream of the crop."

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