Clemson sophomore middle linebacker Brandon Maye was not in the starting lineup after sustaining a knee injury, according to defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
Maye, who had started all 25 games he played the past two seasons, sat out Kentucky’s first two offensive series and was inserted for less than five plays early in the second quarter.
He did not dress out for the second half, watching from the sideline with jersey over casual clothes.
Steele said Maye suffered a knee injury and sat out most of two or three practices within the last week. The school had not announced the injury.
He spent some of the first quarter riding a stationary bike on the sideline, and Steele said it became evident Maye could not move as desired.
“It just didn’t feel right,” Steele said.
Freshman Corico Hawkins got the start in Maye’s place, but senior Jeremy Campbell logged the majority of the snaps. Hawkins registered five tackles and Campbell three.
Wait and see. Swinney said junior safety DeAndre McDaniel has yet to decide whether he will return for his senior season.
He intimated that McDaniel had not received his projection from the NFL’s underclassmen advisory committee, although Swinney thinks McDaniel will fall between a second- and fourth-round projection.
McDaniel was not made available to reporters.
“He could tremendously benefit from another season,” Swinney said. “You can counsel them, but they have to make that decision on their own. I expect him to come back, but anything can change.”
Pro bono. One former NFL executive believes Clemson running back C.J. Spiller has the makings of a pro star.
Matt Millen, fired after eight seasons as the Detroit Lions' president, served as ESPN's color analyst for Sunday night's TV broadcast.
Millen, who had only seen Spiller on film before the contest, said concerns over whether Spiller would only be effective as a situational player such as Reggie Bush appear unfounded.
"He's the real deal," Millen said. "He has all the requisite skills to be a very good player if he's put in situations that accentuate his skills, which is the coach's job to do.
"If he can continue to hone his receiving skills, he can be the kind of player Marshall Faulk and Ricky Watters were."
The real Diehl. Sophomore fullback Chad Diehl got TV time for his turn wearing former prep teammate Stanley Hunter's No. 17.
But Diehl earned extra recognition by producing three road-grading leading blocks to spring Jamie Harper for significant runs.
Out of the I formation, Diehl cleared the path for 26- and 33-yard gains. Two plays later, on third-and-goal from the 1, he pancaked Kentucky safety Calvin Harrison on Harper's touchdown plunge to push Clemson up 14-10.
Theory of Calvinism. Kentucky coach Rich Brooks hoped that seeking a fourth consecutive bowl victory was validation for a senior class that put up with the perception that the Wildcats would never amount to much.
Among the group is Harrison, a Richland Northeast graduate. Brooks said Harrison, who is fourth on the team in tackles, had been instrumental in directing a secondary marked by youth and injuries.
"We knew we could turn things around," Harrison said.
Extra points. As expected, Kentucky had a partisan home-field crowd at LP Field. Clemson wound up selling almost 4,600 of its 7,500 mandatory allotment of tickets, a school official said. By comparison, Kentucky exceeded 16,000, with a few thousand more scooped up by fans through the bowl committee instead of the school.