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What we heard: Spring practice Day 4

On the fourth day of Clemson’s spring football practices, head coach Dabo Swinney and the football program was presented with a special honor. Representatives of Pickens County were present at the practice to award Swinney and the team with the key to Pickens County. Afterwards, Swinney and others spoke on the progress being made so far.

Here is what we heard:

Roy Costner, the Chairman for the Pickens County Council, said the presentation of the key was to honor Swinney and Clemson for the qualities the program embodies in addition to the success the team has brought back to its town and county.

“This is pretty special,” Swinney said. “We are going to hang this proudly in the office so everybody can see it. All of these guys came out and I appreciate them putting this together and giving us this recognition.”

A reoccurring question of the spring has to do with how the corps of quarterbacks competing for a shot at filling the void left by Deshaun Watson are progressing. Swinney stated at the start of camp that Kelly Bryant would begin as first string, and that is still the case four days in.

“He should be out in front,” Swinney said. “He knows more. He has had more experience and it should show, and it has. I’m very pleased with that. Now we just have to grow and have to go and continue to do it.

“We are building towards the first scrimmage. We have a long way to go and a lot of work to do, but after four days, I’m not disappointed. I recognize where we are and where we have to get to. I know we are nowhere near ready to play.”

While Watson and key skill players from last season’s National Championship team have moved on to presenting their skills in the NFL scouting combine, co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott pointed out the offense also took a hit by losing center Jay Guillermo.

“I’d go up to Coach Swinney sometimes and say, ‘you’re going to miss Deshuan, but I am going to miss Jay Guillermo,'” Elliott said. “Being in charge of the run game and also the protections, you know how important that center is with as fast as we play, how much is on his plate to be able to identify correctly and be able to get everyone on the same page.

“No doubt that Falcinelli is going to be able to fill those shoes. Obviously he is going to have to learn.”

As for the defensive side of the ball, Swinney is thrilled with what he has seen so far. He explained he’s especially pleased to have so much depth at linebacker. However, it is early in the spring and there is still plenty of work left to do.

“The defense is way ahead of where we were from this time last year,” he said. “I’m very pleased with that side of the ball, and then offensively, we have some development to do with our skill. I’m very confident with the guys we have up front. I think we are going to be very, very good in the trenches. There are a lot of good things, but you have to be prepared to bring your hard hat every day or you are going to get exposed.”

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