Clemson held its first practice in Miami on Monday in preparation for Friday night’s Discover Orange Bowl game against sixth-ranked Ohio State. The Tigers and Buckeyes are meeting for just the second time, the first time since the 1978 Gator Bowl.
The Tigers worked from 11:50 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Barry University. The practice included a 15-minute “JV” practice as coach Dabo Swinney worked on fundamentals for his young players for the final three periods. It was a spirited workout in 75-degree temperatures under cloudy skies for the first 90 minutes, then sunny skies for the final 30 minutes.
“We came out and competed today,” said Swinney, who is coaching Clemson in a bowl game for the sixth straight year. “It was a good Tuesday practice. We are ahead in the schedule because the game is on Friday. With three weeks to prepare for this game, at this point both teams are working on the details. That is what you have to do to play well. Each team is going to have plenty of time to prepare.
“Our focus was very good today. We didn’t make every play and we still have some things to correct, but I liked what I saw today.”
Swinney was asked about working on drills to prevent turnovers. The Tigers have 10 turnovers in their two losses this year, but just 12 in the 10 wins. Clemson is 32-3 under Swinney when winning the turnover margin.
“We could not possibly do more drills on taking care of the ball, “said Swinney with a chuckle. “In our preseason study, the goal was 17-18 turnovers for the course of the season. That is national championship caliber. We were right there with 16 heading into the South Carolina game. But that game got away from us in terms of turnovers (six).”
Swinney was also asked after practice if his team had an advantage in the passing game, in particular with Clemson’s wide receivers. “Both teams are very good," he said. "I don’t see an advantage. Ohio State has an outstanding defense. One of the reasons opponent passing yards are what they are is because teams can’t run the ball on them. They are in the top 10 in the nation in rushing defense. Ryan Shazier makes every play on defense, he is always around the ball.Overall this game is about executing your plan. We must be focused on that.