Tigers continue work in Orlando

Friday was termed a successful and rewarding day for the Clemson football team in the eyes of Head Coach Dabo Swinney.

The Tigers spent the morning meeting with children at the Give Kids the World Village in Kissimmee, Florida, then had a “very good” practice in the afternoon at the Thunder Field facility adjacent to the Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium.

Friday was the final day in full pads of the season for Swinney’s Tigers, who will meet 24th ranked Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Monday at 5:30 pm.

“We began the day with an experience our players should remember for a long time,” said Swinney. “We went as a team to the Give Kids the World Village. I never knew a place like that existed and it was an impactful experience for all of us. It was special for our players, who were engaged with the children at the facility the entire time they were there. These are kids who are fighting very difficult illnesses.”

Both Clemson and Oklahoma were at the facility at the same time, as were head coaches Dabo Swinney and Bob Stoops.

The Give Kids the World Village is a facility where children fighting terminal illness can go and enjoy life. The 70-acre facility has rides and other amusement park activities for kids in addition to other outdoor sports activities. Families stay in homes on the facility free of charge as the costs are paid for by benefactors. One of their slogans is, “Happiness inspires hope.”

The Tigers then practiced in the afternoon from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm. Swinney was pleased with the practice. “We have had a good week of practice. In fact it has been among the best bowl weeks of practice we have had since I have been at Clemson.

“I have liked the way we have practiced all week. There has been effort and an attention to detail. It has been a spirited practice in terms of one-on-one competition and we have paid attention to detail.”

Swinney talked about the progress of his young players through the bowl practices. “We finished the JV practices with a scrimmage on Thursday and I was pleased with a number of players. C.J. Fuller looked very good as a running back. He is hard to tackle.

“ I was also pleased with Scott Pagano over the course of the bowl practices. He is ready for those six senior defensive linemen to graduate and move on. I think he is going to help every one of them pack their bags next week. He is ready for an opportunity.”

Swinney also commented on the play of quarterback Cole Stoudt this week. “Cole has practiced very well,” said Swinney. “I think he is going to play well in his final game. I know he is excited about the opportunity to finish 6-2 as a starter.

“If you look back at the games he struggled it has been when he was not expecting to play (Louisville and Georgia Tech). He has known he was going to be the starter in this game for quite some time. He is the healthiest he has been and he has prepared well.”

Saturday will be the final practice for the Tigers in preparation for Monday’s game. They will have a walk-through on Sunday in addition to attending the official bowl luncheon at noon.

Notes
*Clemson graduate defensive tackle DeShawn Williams will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Monday, the day of the Russell Athletic Bowl. It will be his 53rd and final game for the Tigers. He has never missed a game. Williams is a second generation Clemson player. His dad, Ronald played for the Tigers from 1990-92 and was a first-team All-ACC selection as a true freshman in 1990. He started for the Tigers in their 1990 Hall of Fame Bowl win over Illinois.

*We are unaware of a starting Clemson player who has played his final game as a Tiger on his birthday in a bowl game. The closest to do it is Clemson’s new quarterback coach Brandon Streeter who played his final game for the Tigers on December 31, 1999 against Mississippi State in the Peach Bowl. Streeter celebrated his birthday the next day, or a half hour after the game ended.

*Former Clemson starting linebacker Eric Sampson was a visitor to practice on Friday. He letter for the Tigers in 2001, 2003 and 2004. Clemson was 2-0 in bowl games when he played for the Tigers.

*Clemson starting offensive guard David Beasley will play in the Medal of Honor Bowl in Charleston on January 10 giving Clemson three players in the game. Earlier, Daniel Rodriguez and Garry Peters accepted invitations.

*One of the goals for the Clemson defense in this game is to finish the season first in the ACC in total defense, rushing defense, pass defense and scoring defense. That statistical grand slam has never been done in Clemson history. Clemson leads the ACC in scoring, total and pass defense and is third in rushing defense. Clemson is in the top 10 in the nation in all four categories, the only school in the nation that can make that claim.

*Clemson has won eight of its last nine regular season games, the eighth time in school history Clemson has won at least eight of its last nine. Clemson has gone on to win the bowl game each of the previous seven times it has accomplished that feat.

* Many of the Clemson players were going to the NBA game between the Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday evening.

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