GREENSBORO, N.C. - Ten takeaways from the player-led media session Sunday at The Grandover Resort, where Cole Stoudt, Vic Beasley, Jameis Winston and John Swofford were happy to fill this morning's notebook:
1) It was only fair to ask a Clemson player the same question I asked Winston an hour prior, which was to describe the pregame atmosphere or attitude leading into the No. 5 Florida State-No. 3 Clemson showdown last October. (Winston's answer was, well, interesting.)
Beasley thought the Tigers were prepared just fine. But they didn't mentally recover from the opening possession, when tight end Stanton Seckinger fumbled it away and the Seminoles led 17-0 after 12 minutes of action.
"Adrenaline was flowing. We were ready to go," Beasley said. "But after that first turnover, it determined the outcome of the game. Our team just went downhill."
Then Beasley was asked to compare the 2014 roster to the 2013 roster in terms of mental toughness.
"Oh yeah, this is definitely a more mature team," Beasley said. "I mean, we learned from those mistakes."
2) Because he's not Tajh Boyd, Stoudt will get asked at every turn how ready he thinks he is to take the keys to Clemson's offense and keep it on par with the nation's elite.
Stoudt isn't a gun-slinger, he's not a boisterous presence like Boyd. At this point, Stoudt's willing to self-evaluate how he has to grow into the position.
"Leadership, it's different with everyone," Stoudt said. "Some people are born naturally with it. For me, it's something that I had to constantly work on, because I'm not a guy who speaks out. I lead more by example, because I believe actions speak louder than words."
Clemson director of player relations Jeff Davis had a little chat with Stoudt about the whole leadership thing.
"He goes, well, what if someone's not following your actions? Then you're going to have to speak up," Stoudt said. "Be more of an adjustable leader. Eventually, you'll have to step out of your comfort zone to get someone else motivated."
3) Because the story of the day on Sunday was Winston's celebrity - certainly including his off-field behavior - other players were asked about how their coaches handle discipline with their players or how teammates hold each other accountable.
Stoudt revealed head coach Dabo Swinney hands out cards with the number "118" and the phrase "Do the right thing" to all his players.
"It always reminds you that no matter where you go or what you're doing, you're always representing Clemson. It emphasizes doing the right thing. They want us to be a role model for Clemson."
In doing so, Stoudt brought up a Wall Street Journal chart that Swinney has shown his players, a grid comparing program success with fan pride based on academic scores, NCAA violation troubles and subjective factors.
4) I'm sure it's lost deep in my recorder, but this is worth passing along:
"RT @maniebeingmanie #Clemson DE Vic Beasley on dealing w/dbl teams Clowney did last year: "Clowney didn't have the supporting cast I have." #ACCKickoff"
So is this: defensive end Marion Hobby, while saying he admired Clowney's talent, intimated the same sentiment on Tuesday.
5) We all know Boyd served as the 3rd-and-short runner, and the goal-line threat, in 2013. Since it's uncertain whether Tyshon Dye will be available early on in the year, could Stoudt fill that role as well?
"I was about 205 last season, I'm now up to 230," Stoudt said. "I put on a little bit of weight so I can add a little more hit to my run."
6) Another semi-random question thrown at the Tigers: would you rather score revenge on Florida State or South Carolina.
"I don't know - I guess, we want to win both of them," Beasley said, diplomatically. "I guess if we beat Florida State, we'll probably win the ACC, so that'd probably be more beneficial."
7) One clear-the-notepad quote from Jameis Winston: "I expect every team we play this year to play their best game. We can say right now we're on top, we're No. 1, but everybody's trying to knock you off."
8) During his state-of-the-ACC address, commission John Swofford proudly proclaimed the ACC became only the second conference in history to win the national championship and a second BCS bowl game in the same year.
Wonderful accomplishment. Kind of ignores the fact the SEC did it four times in 14 years, but still, worth touting.
9) You might have heard there's a playoff coming.
"Personally, I'm very pleased to see us reach this point and to be at a point where the football playoff begins," Swofford said, "because I can remember for years (SEC commissioner) Mike Slive and I being the lone voices in the BCS room pushing for some type of playoff. So it's really good to see it come to fruition, and I think it'll be a tremendous addition for fans and players alike and a great thing for college football.
Winston on whether he preferred a playoff or the BCS: "Obviously, the computers made some people angry and some people happy. We support anything that promotes more football."
10) On the docket today: we meet with College Football Playoff officials (one of them, Michael Kelly, was kind enough to compliment our CFP hypothetical from a few weeks back - which, really, all the credit is due to Clemson SID Tim Bourret and Post and Courier designer Luke Reasoner) as well as ACC coordinator of officials Doug Rhoads.
Then we'll get the head coaches later. Dabo Swinney, Frank Beamer and Bobby Petrino in a room all at once. This should be fun.
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