Tigers making the most of extra prep for Ohio State

Football - Tajh Boyd and Dabo Swinney chat before practice

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football - Tajh Boyd and Dabo Swinney chat before practice

CLEMSON - Junior safety Robert Smith is relentless in game preparation - all he needs is an opponent.

"The night when I found out (the Ohio State matchup), I went ahead and watched film that night," Smith said, who leads Clemson's defensive backs in tackles (64). "Watched about an hour of film that night. That's something I always do and pride myself on is using my knowledge on the offense we're going against."

For players like Smith, the bowl season's break is welcome, as 26 days will come and go between college football's version of selection Sunday and toe meeting leather in Miami Jan. 3.

Tiger 'D' has answered questions

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That can also present challenge in keeping things fresh, but Smith says they've managed it well so far, flying down to south Florida to officially kick-off bowl week this afternoon.

"I feel like having a lot of time gives you a lot of time watching film and working on technique and also getting back into the fundamentals," said Smith. "They've been pushing us every single day. They don't let us take any days off. We're together all day, not necessarily football-wise, but we're always doing things together as a team.

"Eating together, lifting together, watching film - just keeping us focused the whole time."

On campus, the Tigers have had 10 true practice days with some film session and workout sessions in the mix - and a four day layoff for the holidays, since opening bowl prep on Dec. 13.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says he's been pleased with the focus through all of the distractions that can come this time of year.

"We'll come in here Sunday morning and start our game week," Swinney said. "Have our normal routine and our normal Monday-type practice. Really like how they came back (Thursday) and I thought - having been off four days - they were very engaged and had a lot of retention from what we had done before Christmas break."

Today was a "teaching" practice per Swinney, after the Tigers performed on Friday.

"We had some really good competitive work and competition and a lot of enthusiasm from both sides," he said. "Good way to wrap up the pads part of it and from this point on it's about finishing the gameplan off and when we get down there polishing and attention to detail and it's all about execution."

The layoff is a reset on the season much like last year's Chick-fil-A Bowl matchup with No. 8 LSU, where they had 29 days to prepare after a loss to South Carolina. That translated to outgaining the Bayou Bengals by 226 yards, 52 plays, 23 first downs, and ultimately, one point (25-24 win) thanks to a 37-yard game-winning kick from Chandler Catanzaro.

Tigers ready to bounce back

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Clemson had the full offseason and 29 days from the start of camp on the opener against No. 5 Georgia. That translated to a field goal being the difference in a 38-35 win in Death Valley - despite being outgained (545-467) and allowing a 150-plus yard rusher (Todd Gurley, 154 yards and two touchdowns).

For a hurry-up offense based on rhythm, Tigers senior signal-caller Tajh Boyd can see pros and cons with the extra time, but mostly positives.

"Obviously it can kind of hurt you not playing for a longer period of time," he said, "but at the same time, it does give you the opportunity to go out there and kind of focus and relish in the details you don't have time to during the course of the season. For us, it's about executing our style of play, whatever it is.

"We know it's going to be a physical game and we know it's going to be a fast game. We have to be prepared on all angles and I'm confident that we will."

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