Practice Notebook: Swinney coaching up receivers

Sep 3, 2016; Auburn, AL, USA;  Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney cheers on his players against the Auburn Tigers during the third quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

All week long Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has said his offense’s struggles in the first two games could be fixed if his wide receivers could just hang onto the football.

The third-ranked Tigers dropped eight passes in their win over Troy last week, and have already dropped 12 this season through two games. Being that he played the position in high school and in college, and coached the position for 13 years at Alabama and Clemson, Swinney decided he needed to get his hands dirty this week and help coach his receivers up, sort of speak.

Swinney, along with co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Jeff Scott, has spent a little extra time after each practice with the wide receivers in hopes they fixe whatever issues they had the first two weeks.

“We went back to the basics,” Swinney said after Wednesday’s practice. “It has been fun with those guys this week. I love how they have responded. There is pride in that group and no one needs to tell them they have to do a better job.”

Swinney said if the wide receivers just become more consistent then it will change everything on offense. That’s why they went back this week and looked at the fundamental mistakes they made. They looked at catching the ball, where their eyes are, where their head is and hand placement.

“It’s about creating that confidence all over again, and it will show,” Swinney said.

As for getting back in and coaching a position, again, Swinney said he is having a blast this week.

“Jeff does an unbelievable job and he always has, but he has coordinator duties, too … This is a week where I really needed to get back. Now, if they play great it isn’t because of me it’s because they got their mind right,” Swinney said. “I felt like this is a week I needed to jump in there with Jeff and help him and just kind of go back to some of the things we need to do from a drill standpoint and again creating that intensity that it takes and the confidence. It’s been fun.”

Fields in green jersey. Cornerback Mark Fields banged up his shoulder covering a kick in practice on Tuesday and was wearing a green jersey (limited contact) in Wednesday’s practice. Swinney said everything was okay with the sophomore and he practiced on Wednesday. He is expected to play in Saturday’s game against S.C. State, which is set to kick at noon at Death Valley.

Bryant likely to miss the Georgia Tech game. Though he has made big strides and is doing much better, Swinney said defensive end Austin Bryant will probably miss the Georgia Tech game, which will be a week from Thursday in Atlanta.

Bryant broke a bone in his foot during the last week of preseason camp and has been out ever since. Swinney was hopeful the defensive end could make it back for the Georgia Tech game, but now it is looking more like the Louisville game, instead.

“It’s going to be close to honest with you, but probably not,” he said. “I think Louisville is a pretty strong possibility. Maybe if the game was on Saturday it might be a little closer for him.”

Kelly update. Swinney said he would love to redshirt freshman defensive end Xavier Kelly, but he is not ready to make that decision after two games.

The Lobbyist. On Sunday, Swinney said linebacker Ben Boulware was not going to play in Saturday’s game against S.C. State due to the ankle injury he suffered in the win over Troy last weekend. By Tuesday, Boulware was upgraded to being dressed and on Wednesday the Clemson coach said he will probably let his senior linebacker go through warm ups.

In other words, Boulware is doing a great job of lobbying for playing time. Who knows, but by Friday he might be in the starting lineup.

“He is doing pretty well. He was out there sprinting today,” Swinney said with a smile. “I love Ben Boulware. He is such a grinder. He is the epitome. He just loves it. Blue collar and is just so selfless and committed. He is just committed. He is doing great.”

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