Plenty of Respect

JACKSONVILLE - Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney's enthusiasm seems to grow by the second as the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl draws closer and closer.


"Outstanding practice," Swinney said meeting with reporters afterwards. "Just what I was hoping for and what all the other coaches were hoping for. A very good, tough physical practice on both sides of the ball. I thought the offense responded much better today and the defense did a good job again. Good practice- really pleased.

"We also had our last J.V. practice at the end here and that's been really good. Watching those guys improve over the last few weeks. I think those guys will feel better about where they are now going into spring ball."

The only disappointing news of the day involved the offensive line, where Landon Walker returned temporarily and Mason Cloy was held out due to illness.

Cloy apparently has the same bug that has latched on to Walker.

"He [Cloy] came out of the meeting [this morning] puking," Swinney said. "We sent him back to bed and put an I.V. in him and hopefully he'll be feeling better tomorrow. We just didn't want anybody else to get it."

Meanwhile Walker practice for the first time in Jacksonville after missing Saturday's practice, but he was kicked out just over halfway through for not hustling.

He is expected to be back at practice tomorrow with no further ramifications according to Swinney.

No other players missed practice Sunday.

PLENTY OF RESPECT: One conversation with Swinney or co-defensive coordinator David Blackwell reveals the Clemson coaching staff has as much respect for the Cornhuskers as any team they've faced all year.

And the statistics seems to confirm why.

"They are 12th in the nation in offense. They are scoring about 36 a game," Swinney said. "15 of their last 17 games they've had 400 yards [of total offense] or more. He's a record setting quarterback. They have the all-time leading receiver in school history there. They have a running back with over 800 yards.

"The quarterback completes 69 percent of his passes. He's one of the top in the country and knows exactly what he is doing with that scheme. They are a ball control offense and that worries me a little bit. We've got to get them off the field and not let them get in a rhythm." Conversely, Clemson is ranked 15th in the nation in total defense, 10th in passing defense and a stout ninth in scoring defense.

"Like I told my team, this is a collision course coming here now. We are only giving up 17 or less and there's only been one team that's hung 400 [yards] in the last nine games in Florida State and we lost. Those two things can't stay the same. Somethings got to give. And hopefully it's not the Clemson defense."

Meanwhile Blackwell said the Tigers have their work cut out for them in every way imaginable- simply because the Huskers are so balanced.

"If not No. 1, they are one of the top two or three offenses we've faced all year," he said. "But they aren't just a great passing team, they do a good job running the football and are very balanced. Their quarterback kind of makes it go.

"He's not having to go out there and throw the ball 60 times a game to win and takes pressure off their quarterback. Honestly, their receivers are also good and are extremely good blockers."

Blackwell said Nebraska's first-year offense is extremely multiple and compares to two teams in the ACC.

"They have blends of the West Coast offense in the short passing game but then they have the spread offense and will run the zone-read and then they can mash you," he said. "It's not fun to prepare for because they do so many different things.

"Schematically their run game stuff is a lot like N.C. State but their passing attack is multiple like Maryland and B.C. They are kind of a blend of several teams put together that we play."

While Cornhuskers and Tigers have no common opponents this year, Nebraska did play ACC champion Virginia Tech in Lincoln,a not surprisingly, there were plenty of points scored. The Hokies jumped out to an early lead before holding on to win 35-30.

NEXT UP: The team has a busy day Monday as it will attend an FCA practice at 7 AM, practice at 11:15 AM, and visit the Wolfson Children's Hospital at 2:00 PM.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I sent him a couple of text messages. He sent me a couple back. It was funny. We really couldn't hear it very well but we had a good time watching him on the buses. He looked good and looked very well-rested. It was neat. I thought he did a good job but it was really odd to see him next to coach Holtz. Maybe they can break out a false fisticuffs. I'm happy for him and he better pick Clemson when we play Nebraska that's all I have to say." - Dabo Swinney on Tommy Bowden appearing on ESPN Saturday as a college football analyst.

QUOTE TO NOTE II: "I was wanting to go to Dave & Busters the first night but they had me going to some cocktail [party]" - Dabo Swinney on if was different being a head coach compared to an assistant coach while preparing for a bowl game. Top Stories