Clemson Arrives in Arizona for Fiesta Bowl

- Staff Report @TheESP_ -

The Tigers landed in Arizona on Sunday as they get set to play Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl this coming Saturday. Head coach Dabo Swinney and a couple players held a press conference upon their arrival.

COACH SWINNEY: Thank you. First of all, let me say, Tremayne Anchrum is going to be an incredible broadcaster. When I first met him -- I don't know if he remembers this -- but he wanted to be a weatherman. Now he has come full circle, and he has found his passion and purpose in life. And that's what college is all about. So I was going to be a doctor and ended up being a football coach. Anyway, he'll be awesome.

We're just happy to be here, just blessed to have the type of season that we had. Obviously, you got to get picked to be here. Everybody is saying, Thank you for being here. I'm like, Shoot, thank you for having us because you got to get picked to come here. We didn't really get a choice. We're just thankful to be out here in Arizona. We came out here, I guess, in '16. We are a very young team.

And the majority of our team has not been here, just our fourth-year juniors and true seniors. But most of our team has not been to Arizona. So it's a really great trip, something we're really excited about and just very appreciative of all the hospitality. I was out here as a player way back in '90 as well. Just great memories, great experiences, the hospitality. Looking forward to a great week and an incredible matchup with an awesome team in Ohio State. So should be exciting for everybody.

K'Von over here, our safety, glad to have him. Just graduated Thursday. (Applause) How about that?

-- Q. Dabo, just want to make sure everybody made it here, everybody safely? You got everybody?

COACH SWINNEY: Everybody is here. Everybody's here.

-- Q. Ryan Day was talking earlier about, with the compressed schedule being so different from previous years, trying to balance keeping your team fresh but also keeping them physically ready. Can you reflect on how that process is going with you guys?

COACH SWINNEY: It's been good. I just tried to rely on past experience, but it was very different. It was actually something I put a lot of thought into really last May. I do a calendar every year, kind of a 13-month calendar, July through the next August. And I always plan -- I just plan like we're going to win it all. And then if we don't get there, we'll adjust. But I just kind of plan that way. And so I actually had to think a lot about it.

In fact, I questioned Mike Dooley, my operations guy, when we were first going through the calendar. I'm like, Wait a minute, this can't be right. I was into December and this was last May. I was going, This isn't right, but he was right. I argued with him a little while. He was right; I was wrong. We really lost a week this year. It was a strange deal because the championship games were a week later. So it's very compressed.

In past years, we have been able to play the championship game, and basically give our players off a week and a half. And then we would start bowl prep and have another week and a half in town before we would break for Christmas. So just different. Lost a week, but it's been great. These guys, we sat down and actually talked about it with our seniors, what I felt like the best thing to do.

Because you do have to give them some time off. It's a long season when you play 13 games and two open dates. So there's a lot of practice. These guys have been going since July 31st. So having that balance of giving them a little bit of a break and also getting them physically prepared for what they're going to see. Because in the game of football, it doesn't take long to kind of lose your edge, if you will.

So I think we had a good balance of mental prep, conditioning, working on Clemson, fundamentals technique, and then game plan for Ohio State and a little bit of good-on-good. Just enough full pads work, I think, to keep us sharp. But then we gave them three days off. So we went through Wednesday. Gave them Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

And then we came back here this morning, had meetings, kind of had a jog-through-type practice, and here we are. We will have a normal week and excited about it.

-- Q. Guys, you were here in '16. What do you remember about the experience and then also the game itself and playing Ohio State?

TREMAYNE ANCHRUM: What I remember most, I was a young man, so I was kind of nervous. Didn't really know what to expect. I was just kind of thrown into it. So I remember the atmosphere was very business-like. But we also knew how to have fun, and he kept us engaged throughout the whole bowl prep. It was a little different. We had more time.

I remember the level of competition being high, not only in the game, but what prepared us the most was the level of competition in the practice, and how we did sharpen iron-on-iron. And that kind of edge that those older guys brought that taught us, that we can carry on to the younger generations that, Hey, it's always game time.

We don't just get up for games like this. We treat games like this like we do Week 6, Week 7. The preparation may be different, but we keep the formula for excellence. Keeping that same formula through now similar to how we were last time.

K'VON WALLACE: I was a true freshman coming in, having to play my role. I was a third-down guy, so making sure I got everything I need to get done to play well for my team. It was a very locked-in, focused team, didn't lose any focus. It wasn't a trip to go have fun. It was not a trip to have a vacation. It was locked in. We knew what we wanted to do. And we came and we saw and we conquered.

-- Q. Dabo, how excited do you think Jackson [Carman] is right now going up against Ohio State obviously? And then that No. 2 (Chase Young) they have?

COACH SWINNEY: Oh, man. Jackson Carman is super excited. It's kind of neat experience when you go against your school -- hometown school. It's a neat experience. I've experienced it in a different way as a coach, obviously going against Alabama. But I think at the end of the day, when the game kicks off, it's just about the game. But Jackson is excited.

And then regardless of who you're playing, as a competitor, you always get excited to play great players. And they have a great defense. They have a great defensive line, not just No. 2. He certainly has earned all of his recognition. I think their entire defensive line is pretty special. They're deep. They're physical.

Those guys come off the ball, penetrate the line of scrimmage. And, again, they have a bunch of guys they roll in there. But certainly No. 2 headlines the way. So Tremayne [Anchrum] and Jackson, I'm sure, will have to battle him. Again, he's a great competitor. We've got great competitors and should be a great matchup.

-- Q. You've been in Arizona, I think, three times in the last five years for games such as these. Can you draw on that experience at all? Is really every game independent of one another?

COACH SWINNEY: I think that certainly experience is a great teacher, but it's a new team. Like I said, I've got very few that have been out here. We don't have a big senior class. And that's the only group that's been here. Most of these guys, it's a new experience for them. But we have been in a lot of big games.

All of our true juniors and true sophomores have played in big games. As Tremayne [Anchrum] said, we really treat every game as a big game. I mean, we really do. I think that's why we've been so consistent, is we try to put our best foot forward and we try to play Clemson every week. So it's exciting. This is a little different in that obviously you're away and it's a bowl site and different logistics and things like that.

So our experience hopefully will help us just kind of navigate that. But at the end of the day, man, we got a routine that we believe in and we'll stick to it but at the same time, also, enjoy the week and participating in all the things that are available to us.

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