Heading into final practice, Dabo Swinney says his Tigers are 'close to ready'

Top-10 ranking at stake for both teams in Friday nights's Orange Bowl

KEN RUINARD/INDEPENDENT MAIL
Clemson’s Vic Beasley, left, and Shaq Lawson, former D.W. Daniel standout, place their equipment in bus storage after practice at Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla.

Photo by Ken Ruinard, Anderson Independent Mail, S.C.

KEN RUINARD/INDEPENDENT MAIL Clemson’s Vic Beasley, left, and Shaq Lawson, former D.W. Daniel standout, place their equipment in bus storage after practice at Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla.

A year ago, Clemson's Tigers celebrated New Year’s Eve 2012 with a victory over ninth-ranked LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

A year later, Clemson ended 2013 with final two-hour practice in shells as the Tigers prepare to take on another top 10 team, the seventh ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl.

If Clemson can defeat Ohio State on Friday night, it would give Clemson consecutive seasons with a bowl win over a top 10 team, and make them the only team in the nation that could make that claim.

To make that happen Dabo Swinney knows his team must pay attention to detail like it did in the 25-24 win in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl.

“We are close to ready,” said Swinney, who has led the Tigers to at least 10 wins each of the last three years, a first for the Clemson program since the 1987-90 era. “This was our 13th practice for this bowl game and we are at the point of polishing off some things.

"You need to put your game plan in for a bowl game back at Clemson, and we did that. We have had two solid days of preparation in terms of practice and meetings.”

Swinney said that Clemson and Ohio State might be more familiar with each other than people would think. While the teams have not played since 1978, the two staffs met last spring.

“Ohio State’s staff came to Clemson last spring and we met for two days in an exchange of ideas," Swinney said. "We certainly never thought about playing in a bowl at that point.

“We lied about some of the things we told them,” he joked. “We just talked football for a couple of days, something most teams do each spring.”

Swinney was asked to compare Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and Florida State Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.

“Both players are great within their respective systems," he said. "They play to their strengths. That is what is so tough about them.

"Braxton is a terrific runner and passer. He's a 4.4 guy. Our quarterback (Tajh Boyd) is an outstanding runner as well, but he doesn’t run a 4.4. Winston does not run as much, but he does a great job of using the elements he has around him. Both are very strong young men.”

The Tigers will hold their third and final Florida practice at Barry University on Wednesday afternoon.

Practice Notes

- Among the visitors to practice was former Tennessee All-American Albert Haynesworth, who was recruited to Tennessee and coached at the school by current Clemson defensive line coach Dan Brooks…Brooks coached at Tennessee from 1994-2008 and is now in his fifth year at Clemson under Dabo Swinney.

- Brooks will coach the Discover Orange Bowl while wearing a boot, as he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in November.

- Clemson and Ohio State have both been successful on the field and in the classroom. Both schools are two of the five institutions ranked in the top 15 in the nation in the latest AP poll and the APR ranking among FBS schools. Clemson is ranked 12th by Associated Press and has the fourth highest APR (985). Ohio State is seventh in the AP poll and is tied for seventh in APR score.

- Both schools also have two of the top 10 longest streaks of consecutive weeks in the AP top 25. Clemson has a streak of 45 straight polls in the top 25, seventh longest in the nation, while Ohio State’s streak of 32 straight polls in the top 25 is ninth longest.

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