Dec. 24, 2009
Nashville, TN –
The Clemson football team held its first of two practices in Nashville on Christmas Eve in preparation for the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl against Kentucky on Sunday at 8:30 PM EST. The 90-minute practice was held at Giacosa Stadium on the campus of Father Ryan High School.
For four of the 18 periods, the #1 offense went against the #1 defense. Two highlights were Willy Korn’s 50-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Parker.
The Tigers had to battle the elements, as steady winds were well over 20 miles per hour during practice. But the players were able to get in 18 periods in shells on the field turf at Giacosa Stadium.
“We focused alot on the ‘Wildcat’ offense today,” said Head Coach Dabo Swinney. “We’ve seen a lot of it this year. We have prepared for it, so we’ll just have to execute the plan. It’s almost like the triple-option. It’s full-speed misdirection and you have to defend both perimeters. It forces you to be very disciplined.”
Nineteen seniors went through their second-to-last practice for the Tigers, who are 8-5 after winning the ACC Atlantic Division title in 2009. A win Sunday would give Clemson its second nine-win season since 2003 and first since 2007.
“It’s always important for our seniors to finish off their career with a win,” stated Swinney. “That’s a big deal. You remember that last game going into the offseason because you don’t have another game to get ready for. You want to finish on a positive note and create momentum going into the offseason.
“Kentucky is a good football team and it will most likely be a fourth-quarter game,” added Swinney. “Both teams play hard and both teams like to run the football. It should be a 60-minute battle.”
The Wildcats feature a multi-dimensional offense, including Randall Cobb. The sophomore quarterback/wideout from Alcoa, TN is one of several threats the Wildcat offense poses for Clemson’s defense. Cobb is second on the team in rushing with 537 yards and is averaging a stout 6.4 yards per carry along with a team-high 10 rushing touchdowns. He also leads the team in receptions (37), receiving yards (427), and receiving touchdowns (4). Cobb is a big reason Kentucky is 21st in the nation in rushing yards per game (193.3).
The only Tiger unavailable for practice due to injury was sophomore offensive lineman Mason Cloy, who suffered a broken leg against Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship game on December 5.
On hand at practice was former Tiger quarterback Charlie Whitehurst (2002-05), a member of the San Diego Chargers who will play at Tennessee on Friday night.
The team will gather on Thursday night for a Christmas Eve Dinner at the team hotel. Among the activities planned include a gift exchange along with players performing Christmas karaoke and Christmas carols.
The Tigers will return to the practice fields at Giacosa Stadium on Friday at 3:00 PM EST. Following Friday’s practice, the team will attend the NFL game between the Tennessee Titans and the San Diego Chargers at LP Field.
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