Monday Notes: Preparing for Miami

Trying to predict how bowl games will play out always seems to be a crapshoot, especially games played after New Year's. Keeping players motivated and hungry through the holidays isn't the easiest task. Some coaches are better at it than others. For Clemson, this shouldn't be one of those games. In a few weeks, the Tigers will play for the Orange Bowl in Miami. Motivation shouldn't be a problem.

Coach Dabo Swinney is glad his players and the fans have a chance to celebrate. But he said it's time to get the players' minds back on work and No. 23 West Virginia.

Freeman said it wasn't hard getting back to the practice field, no matter how good the Tigers still feel about the ACC championship. "I can speak for myself and a lot of the guys, we were ready to get back to work," he said. "As well as we played (against Virginia Tech), there are still things we can correct."

Clemson will be making its first trip to the Orange Bowl since the 1981 team capped a 12-0, national-championship season with a 22-15 victory against Nebraska. Now, the Tigers (10-3) have a chance for their highest victories total since 1981.

One story that has been quietly discussed, is the amount of tickets being sold for the Orange Bowl. As of last Friday, both schools only sold roughly one-third of their allotted 17,500 tickets. This could potentially turn into a huge financial burden for the school if those tickets remain unsold and could have to pay upwards of $2 million if no more tickets were sold.

At this point you have to think with the game still weeks away, Clemson will sell more tickets, but it begs the question, why is this game being played in the middle of the week? The fact that many fans will have to take off several days of work to make the long trek to Miami is bad scheduling by the BCS. Still, after such a great turnout in Charlotte, it would be a shame to watch an empty Orange Bowl in Clemson's biggest bowl game in a long long time.

You give these universities an allotment of tickets and say, 'Okay, if you don't sell them, then you're paying us back for them,' and the university has to cover that, which is not fair," said James Thurn, of Sports Talk Radio WCCP-FM.

As pointed out by the Smoking Musket the statistics for the two teams are comparable:

Clemson Offense: Total Yards 441.5 -- 29th; Passing Yards 284.8 -- 21st; Rushing Yards 156.8 -- 61st; Points Scored 33.6 -- 26th Defense: Total Yards 379.4 -- 58th; Passing Yards 202.9 -- 38th; Rushing Yards 176.5 -- 81st; Points Allowed 26.2 -- 62nd

WVU Offense: Total Yards 459.6 -- 18th; Passing Yards 341.8 -- 7th; Rushing Yards 117.8 -- 100th; Points Scored 34.9 -- 20th; Defensel Total Yards 340.3 -- 27th; Passing Yards 199.6 -- 32nd; Rushing Yards 140.8 -- 51st; Points Allowed 26.2 -- 63

Still, it's hard to make comparisons between two teams when every publication has Clemson as having played a tougher slate this year. Having faced Virginia Tech twice, Florida State, Auburn, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech is no easy task. The Mountaineers didn't face nearly the same schedule in a conference that very well could be losing its BCS birth in the near future.

The interesting matchup in the Orange Bowl for me will be Clemson's offense against this West Virginia defense. Can Clemson find the mojo that was on display in Charlotte, or will they regress to how they played almost the entire month of November? This West Virginia defense was thrashed by Maryland (which also thrashed Clemson's defense), Rutgers, and Louisville. Not exactly three powerhouse offensive machines when you think about it. If the Orange Bowl is similar to any game not named Virginia Tech this year, Chad Morris's squad will have to put up a ton of points to win this game.

When the Mountaineers have struggled, it’s usually been because of poor tackling, Casteel said. "We just weren’t real consistent," he said. "Our tackling leaves a lot to be desired at times, and that’s what gets us in trouble. A lot of times we’ve had an opportunity to make some plays and just didn’t do it."

"I wish I had the answers. We just try to work the fundamentals. To win games, you have to get people on the ground. When you’re not doing that, it comes down to fundamentals. Guys aren’t in the right spots, and we just have to point those things out and get better at it."

We'll have plenty more coming up in which we will break down Casteel's 3-3-5 defensive scheme.

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