ORLANDO, Fla. — After convening in Orlando on Thursday evening, the Clemson Tigers completed their first on-site practice in Florida on Friday in preparation for their upcoming game against the Iowa State Cyclones in the 2021 Cheez-It Bowl.
“How ‘bout this beautiful day we’ve got? Unbelievable,” Head Coach Dabo Swinney said. “It’s like 80-plus [degrees] down here and I’m just really thankful to have the opportunity to be down here in Florida and have a great practice facility.”
Clemson conducted a roughly 90-minute practice at a local high school. With five days remaining until kickoff, the team’s practice and meetings were structured similar to a typical in-season Monday.
“The biggest focus today was what we call our ‘Mental Monday’ — get our mind right,” Swinney said. “Obviously we’re not starting from scratch with our plan like we would on a normal Monday, but really just kind of picking up. They’ve had about four days of no football, so just getting them back focused and locked in on the task at hand.”
Clemson enters the Cheez-It Bowl at 9-3 and in search of its 10th win of the 2021 season. A win would give Clemson 11 consecutive 10-win seasons, placing the Tigers alongside Florida State (14 from 1987-2000) and Alabama (14 from 2008-21) as the only programs ever to reach double-digit wins in 11 straight seasons.
The matchup with Iowa State will feature two of the nation’s top defenses. Entering bowl selection, Clemson ranked No. 9 in the nation in total defense, allowing only 308.4 yards per game. Iowa State was right behind Clemson at No. 10 with an average of 309.2 yards allowed per game.
“There’s been a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of excitement,” Swinney said of the team’s preparation for Iowa State. “We went seven straight days in Clemson and obviously had new pieces and things like that, and guys have really done a good job of leading and just practicing with purpose. That’s what it takes to be successful in the postseason.”
After a theme park visit on Friday afternoon and evening, Clemson will conduct a holiday brunch on Saturday morning including a “secret pals” gift swap. The team will return to meetings around noon in advance of its typical “Tuesday” practice on Saturday afternoon.
Tickets to the 2021 Cheez-It Bowl remain available; fans can visit ClemsonTigers.com/Bowl2021 for more information. Fans in need of last-minute gifts can also visit the Clemson Tigers Store to purchase official Clemson merchandise for bowl season and for the holiday season.