Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson said he’d definitely play in the national championship game the night the Tigers advanced with a victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.
Saturday, nine days later, Lawson wasn’t quite so confident when he was repeatedly asked about the sprained knee that kept him out of the second half against the Sooners.
“I’m not really sure,” Lawson said when asked if he can play effectively Monday. “I’m just trying to get back my movement, my technique.
“Hopefully I can be out there with my teammates.”
Lawson injured his left knee in the first quarter of Clemson’s 37-17 victory over Oklahoma. He is Clemson’s best pass rusher this season with 10 1/2 sacks and 23 1/2 tackles for loss.
Asked Saturday to assess his pain level on a scale of one to 10, Lawson indicated it is an eight.
“I’m frustrated not to be what I’ve been all year. Whatever I can do, I just need to make the most of it,” Lawson said. “I wish I was at my best against a team like Alabama.”
Nothing social going on: Clemson was in South Florida for about a week for the Orange Bowl, participating in a beach party and other team outings. The Tigers arrived in Phoenix Friday for Monday’s game with a different agenda.
“This is a business trip, as far as I’m concerned,” said cornerback Mackensie Alexander. “Get a W and get out.”
ACC pride: Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said recent history should raise the status of ACC football.
“Two out of the last three national championships we’ve had a team here,” Swinney said, referring to the Tigers and Florida State. “For three years in a row we’ve had a team in the hunt. Florida State is in our division, so if you’re not undefeated you probably aren’t winning it.
“If you win this division, you have a chance” of winning it all. They (Florida State Seminoles) are a great program with a Heisman Trophy winner (quarterback Jameis Winston) and a national championship. But we were able to make a few plays this year we hadn’t made in the past.”
Clemson enters the national championship game at 14-0, the only remaining undefeated team at the FBS level.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129; @rick_bonnell