Tigers full speed ahead for Kentucky

CLEMSON - Six players didn't practice Thursday while the Tigers were in pads for the second straight day for bowl practice.

The most recognizable of the missing faces were C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford, who graduated earlier in the afternoon, joining four other Clemson football players who were given the day off for graduation.

"It just never gets old, seeing those guys walk across that stage," said coach Dabo Swinney. "Knowing no matter what happens in football, they've got a chance to be successful in life. They've got something that nobody can take away from them.

"That's really what it's all about."

Swinney was a little late to the practice fields, since he was watching the graduation exercises at Littlejohn Coliseum.

"They were more settled in today. It was good, competitive work. There was a lot of good-on-good, a lot of competitive-type drills. That's good--the speed of the game and getting back into the flow of that."

In the second year of jayvee practice, Swinney likes for his younger players to get the extra work once the regular practice is over. At the end of each bowl practice, an extra 20 minutes is set aside for younger players to practice.

"It's very beneficial to our young guys. It gets everybody removed and we can really focus in on those guys at their pace," Swinney said. "I think we've got a really good plan and good structure."

The Tigers will continue to work in full pads on Friday and Saturday, though the weather on Friday could dictate otherwise.

"We've got to really tie it together (Friday) and Saturday," Swinney said.

The team will have meetings on Sunday with Monday and Tuesday looking like normal game week practices.

"We'll travel, have a Wednesday and Thursday up there, and Friday," Swinney said. "We're getting there. It's coming soon."

He'll know this Friday if there will be any academic issues that keep any players from participating in the bowl game. Swinney doesn't think there will be any casualties to grades.

What normally had been a week off to prepare for exams, he's not sure how the ACC Championship week may have impacted grades.

"I think that was uncharted territory for our team because we had never played and practiced that week. Guys had always had that time off to really prepare for exams," he said.

Swinney said his biggest concern was arriving back in Clemson at 5 a.m. the following Sunday morning.

"I was tired. They were tired. Then you have Monday finals," he said. "It was just kind of under the grind, so to speak. Hopefully, we won't lose anybody."

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