Swinney suspends four for today's game
NASHVILLE, TENN. -- Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney has suspended four players for today's Music City Bowl due to curfew violations.
The most significant loss is second-string defensive tackle Jamie Cumbie, who is a vital part of the defensive line rotation. Swinney also said fellow reserve defensive tackle Rennie Moore, backup tight end Durrell Barry -- a Fort Dorchester product -- and receiver Kyle Johnson would not play.
Barry and Johnson are seniors.
Swinney said Saturday they had done nothing illegal. They simply missed a 1 a.m. curfew during the team's first night in Nashville on Wednesday.
"There are consequences for every action," Swinney said.
The severity of the consequences shouldn't be a surprise as Swinney is attempting to avoid the malaise that infected the team prior to the 2006 Music City Bowl loss to Kentucky.
The suspensions are significant since the Tigers have allowed nearly 600 combined rushing yards in back-to-back losses to South Carolina and Georgia Tech.
Cumbie has played 364 snaps this season, Moore 198. Miguel Chavis is the only other reserve interior defensive lineman to play more than 100 snaps (290).
Kentucky presents another challenge for the Clemson run defense. Kentucky ranks fifth in the SEC with 193 rushing yards per game. The yards are more impressive when considering the offense has been one-dimensional since starting quarterback Mike Hartline went down with a knee injury after the fifth game.
Swinney said Da'Quan Bowers might play some at defensive tackle today and threw out freshman defensive end Malliciah Goodman's name, though Goodman weighs only 260 pounds.
All four players are still with the team.
Spiller feeling better (really)
For the first time since August, C.J. Spiller has gone through practice minus the designated hands-off colored jerseys for injured players. After playing through hip, toe and knee injuries, Spiller is apparently nearing full health. Spiller needs two touchdowns for the ACC's single-season touchdown mark held by North Carolina's Don McCauley (21).
Augusta National vs. LP Field
Compared to the conditions last time the Tigers visited Nashville, Swinney compared the playing surface at LP Field to the fairways at Augusta National. That's apparently still the case even after the Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers played on the natural surface on Christmas.
Brooks calls the Tigers' defense SEC-caliber
Though the Tigers have struggled against the run in their the last two losses, Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said the Clemson defense is similar to the top defenses the Wildcats have faced in the SEC this season.
"They are very impressive rushers as well as run defenders," Brooks said. "They cover as well as anyone."
Brooks also said the Tigers' offense is better than the 2006 version.
"Their offense is more difficult to defend," Brooks said, "with shifting and motion and a variety of sets and personnel groups."