FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – Sunny skies and warm weather do wonders for everybody.
Clemson took to the practice field at the Inter Miami CF training facility Tuesday afternoon for two hours in preparation for Friday’s Orange Bowl against Tennessee. The morning dawned cool and rainy, but the skies cleared as the Tigers took the field and temperatures hovered in the low 70’s.
The facility sits next to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, and the sound of everything from executive jets to small prop planes filled the air. The practice started with Michael Jackson’s Beat It, which had head coach Dabo Swinney dancing, and then switched to Miami by Will Smith, but just as the beat had everyone going, the song turned off.
That drew a loud round of boos from Swinney, and he was quickly joined by a chorus of boos from players and staff. Once the music started again, Swinney danced and the players went through their ritual handshakes as defensive end KJ Henry laughed and exorted everyone to work and still have fun.
Amazing what a little sun and warmth does for everyone.
*We have a few practice tidbits to pass along. There were just two players that I noticed in injury jerseys – cornerback Sheridan Jones was in yellow (limited) and right guard Walker Parks was in green (no contact) for the practice. Both appeared to be moving well.
*During the special teams portion of practice, BT Potter nailed a 50-yarder that would have been good from maybe 60. Freshman kicker Robert Gunn walked up to hit a 50-yarder, and his not only cleared the crossbar, it cleared the safety netting behind the goalpost. If he stays healthy, he could set some records.
*Head coach Dabo Swinney, running backs coach CJ Spiller, and special teams assistant Bill Spiers worked with punt returner Antonio Williams. Then all three worked with Cole Turner and Will Shipley on kickoff return. The Tigers worked on short kickoffs, and Turner was learning when (and where) to make the catch himself or let Shipley run up and under it.
*Wide receiver Will Taylor was returning punts. I know a lot of people have asked about Taylor, and we asked offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter about Taylor earlier. Streeter said Taylor underwent surgery (minor, but Streeter wouldn’t specify) what kind and missed a couple of games. He said Taylor is good to go for the bowl game.
Once the special teams portion ended, and individual work began, we were kicked out, so there isn’t a lot to pass along. Andre Branch, a standout defensive end for the Tigers back in the day, lives in the area and walked into practice just as we were walking out. He lives in the area and is successful in business in the area, including real estate. He flipped me the keys to his Porsche 911 and told me to take it for a drive, but I told him we had to be honest, that I wasn't going to fit in it, and if I did, I would probably not bring it back.