CLEMSON - If players are not excited about the Music City Bowl, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said he will make sure they are on the sideline.
There might be some new faces in the defense regardless.
Having surrendered 34 and 39 points in consecutive losses, Swinney said Sunday the Tigers could explore several personnel changes during preparations for their game against Kentucky.
"We've got a couple of guys not playing well at all," Swinney said. "I think we've got to challenge them or put somebody else in there."
Swinney declined to identify names or positions, but he did offer blanket praise for the defensive tackles, while ends Da'Quan Bowers (career-high 11 tackles) and Ricky Sapp appeared to have strong showings in Saturday's ACC championship game loss to No. 9 Georgia Tech.
The likeliest candidates are at inside linebacker, where sophomore middle backer Brandon Maye has struggled the past few contests. Based on potential, freshman Corico Hawkins and redshirt freshman weakside linebacker Jonathan Willard would appear options for increased roles.
It might be worth monitoring how Clemson handles its cornerback rotation. Junior Byron Maxwell saw extensive time in replacement of 5-foot-9 senior starter Chris Chancellor against Georgia Tech. Senior corner Crezdon Butler and nickel corner/safety Marcus Gilchrist were guilty of misplays on several perimeter runs as well as the Yellow Jackets' 70-yard touchdown pass.
"We have to get better on defense no matter who we play, and that will be a big focus," Swinney said.
Cloy out. Clemson will be a leg down on preparing its starting offensive line for next season during spring practice.
Redshirt sophomore Mason Cloy broke the fibula in his right leg in the fourth quarter Saturday. Cloy will not be available for the bowl game or spring practice, although Swinney said he expected the Spring Valley High grad to be ready for next year's season opener.
Cloy, a backup at center and both guard positions, is expected to inherit the starting left guard spot vacated by senior Thomas Austin.
Redshirt freshman Matt Sanders (27 career snaps) and redshirt sophomore Wilson Norris (155) figured to require grooming for backup roles.
Swinney said Cloy suffered breaks in a couple of spots and compared the injury to what receiver Jacoby Ford incurred midway through the 2007 season.
Trip adviser. While his contention for the Heisman Trophy seems out of the question, senior running back C.J. Spiller will learn today whether he will be a finalist for the Heisman and earn a trip to New York this week for the trophy presentation ceremonies.
The 926 votes are due for online submission by 5 p.m. today, and the finalists are to be announced during ESPN's 6 p.m. "SportsCenter." The number of finalists can range from three to six.
Spiller and Swinney will travel to Orlando on Thursday for ESPN's college football awards show. Spiller is one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award, presented to the nation's top running back.
Extra points. Clemson will resume practice after this week's exams. ... Of the 1,435 Football Bowl Subdivision games this year, Saturday's ACC championship marked the first in which both teams rushed for at least 300 yards. Georgia Tech went for 333 while Clemson posted 323. ... Kentucky will be without its second-leading tackler and the SEC's No. 2 player in interceptions, senior linebacker Sam Maxwell, coach Rich Brooks announced during the weekend. Maxwell, who has six picks, is to undergo surgery for a torn labrum.