CLEMSON — December can have its fair share of distractions for teams in bowl practice.
For some, an upcoming NFL draft decision weighs heavily, while others may be sweating their final grades for eligibility.
All in all, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says he likes what he’s seen in the pre-Christmas Orange Bowl preparation.
“We really had a good week,” Swinney said. “We started last Friday then (went) Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday and (Thursday) was a really good practice. Very physical and good energy and good enthusiasm, which is what I wanted to see as we closed out the big portion of our bowl prep.
Swinney excited about 'JV' stars
“As far as guys coming out early and all that stuff, we still don’t have information back from NFL folks to make a real informed decision at this point. None of that matters, that will all take of itself during the ballgame. They’re getting dialed in and ready to go play. It’s a big opportunity for us to go and measure up against a team that’s two or three plays from being in Pasadena.”
Friday's academic-eligibility judgment day came and went without any word from the school on suspended players. The Tigers’ head coach wasn’t expecting any though, after having three before the Chick-fil-A Bowl last year.
“It looks like we’re not going to have any casualties,” Swinney said. “I’m hesitant to say 100 percent until I know for sure. It looks good.”
He credits this quiet front to hands-on communication from players to administrators like associate AD Woody McCorvey and assistant AD Jeff Davis and coordinating with academic institutions like Vickery Hall.
“There’s not many surprises because of our structure,” said Swinney. “We have a lot of hands and eyes on these guys and Vickery Hall does a tremendous job. There’s a lot of communication. We have to support what they’re trying to do over there and vice versa. We’ve got great communication, great relationships and great accountability.
“Our guys have to work. If you don’t go to class, you won’t play. There’s a structure in place that we believe in from a university standpoint. We believe in from a football standpoint. Our guys know what they have to do.”
Clemson will spend Saturday breaking down Ohio State specifically before taking a four-day break through Christmas. They will resume workouts on Dec. 26 and practice in TigerTown through Dec. 29, when they will head down to sunny south Florida for a week’s stay in the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Resort.
The Tigers will practice Dec. 30 through Jan. 1 at Barry University (closed to the public unless otherwise announced) leading up to the 8:30 p.m. kickoff on Jan. 3 in Sun Life Stadium.
A major component of extra practice sessions thus far has been working with the younger players in “JV” practices, which ramped up on Thursday.
“Had our first scrimmage and had kind of been building up to that,” Swinney said. “That was a lot of fun. Those guys have been really good.”
Swinney said T.L. Hanna product and linebacker Ben Boulware benefited from the extra attention among more Tigers.
“Wayne Gallman (RB) and Dorian O’Daniel (LB), those are two guys that have jumped (out),” Swinney said. “(Scott) Pagano (DT), (Tyrone) Crowder (OG) — I’m excited about those guys. It’s fun. Adrien Dunn (WR), a little kid who walked on here from Daniel, made a heck of a play. It was fun to see those guys get a chance to go out there and compete.”
Swinney says he’s already anticipating the 2014 action on Jervey Meadows come March.
“We have some young guys that have some bulldog in them now,” he said. “I’m excited, I really am. It’s going to be a fun spring with some of these guys. We have a lot of guys that have really have maximized their semester.”