NASHVILLE — Clemson's troubles stopping the Wildcat might have gotten more difficult.
Four Tigers reserves have been suspended for today's Music City Bowl against Kentucky for curfew violations, most notably defensive tackles Jamie Cumbie and Rennie Moore. The others were third-string tight end Durrell Barry and receiver Kyle Johnson.
Cumbie and Moore were part of a five-member rotation Clemson uses on its interior defensive line.
So the Tigers will be without much depth as they try to rectify their issues against the Wildcat, which Kentucky has used successfully the past four weeks with receiver Randall Cobb.
"We've got one game, four quarters," Swinney said Saturday. "So let's go win it and not make any excuses."
Swinney said the players were late for Wednesday's 1 a.m. curfew, Clemson's first night in Nashville. All four remain with the team, Swinney said. The punishment ends the careers of Barry and Johnson, both seniors.
Cumbie, a junior, is the top tackler among non-starters and has averaged 28 snaps per game.
Swinney said that could mean about 60 snaps apiece for starters Jarvis Jenkins and Brandon Thompson and backup Miguel Chavis; the starters normally play about 40 snaps apiece. The team also could insert ends Da'Quan Bowers or Kevin Alexander in passing situations, Swinney said.
It was no secret that before Clemson's 28-20 loss to Kentucky in the 2006 Music City Bowl, several players enjoyed their freedom perhaps too much, fueling scrutiny of the Tigers' focus.
But Swinney said the actions of a few do not reflect the team's approach.
"There's consequences for every action," Swinney said. "They were just late, and the consequences for it are they aren't going to play.
"This is a business trip for us. I'm really proud of our guys that we spent two weeks in Clemson, nothing going on, nobody there, and not one guy gets in trouble and they're all doing what they're supposed to do."
Field of dreams. Swinney and Kentucky coach Rich Brooks shared a laugh over the difference in condition of the grass at LP Field now compared to that of the teams' 2006 meeting.
That year, the turf had been resodded after an NFL game. And because of the weather, it had not taken hold, creating choppy footing.
While the Tennessee Titans played host to the San Diego Chargers on Friday night at LP Field, both coaches believe the field will pose no problem.
"It's Augusta National right now compared to what it was," Swinney said.
Changing gears. After Kentucky lost junior starting quarterback Mike Hartline to a knee injury against USC, the Wildcats adjusted their offensive scheme the next four games to take pressure off freshman backup Morgan Newton, including an increased reliance on the Wildcat.
Newton, whom Clemson recruited, is slated to start. But Hartline is expected to return and appeared to have overcome the knee swelling that limited his practice participation earlier in the week.
"He's rusty a little bit," Brooks said. "We're confident he can go and play physically."
Extra points. Brooks said he plans to mix up the kickoff plan against C.J. Spiller, but the Wildcats do not intend to kick it away from him every time. ... Among its Christmas festivities, Clemson had a gift exchange and a karaoke contest (Swinney tabbed corners Crezdon Butler and Marcus Gilchrist the winners for their carol crooning). But the surprise success was an idea crafted by his wife, Kathleen: breaking the team into foursomes for a gingerbread-house-building contest. "You put competition on the end, and these guys go nuts," Swinney said. "There were hot tubs, mansions ... It was hard on some of these guys to be away, but it was nice."