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What we heard: Monday's practice

Clemson is in the home stretch of spring football now with just this week remaining until the team breaks for summer workout sessions. Some players and coaches met with the media following Monday’s practice to discuss the progress being made.

Here us what we heard:

Head coach Dabo Swinney was really impressed with the performance he saw from his offense on the rainy Monday evening.

“Today was the day that I thought the offense kind of won the day with some good on all phases,” he said. “We went live with the quarterbacks again today. We picked two days to do that this spring, and that will be it for the spring as far as making them live, but It was a really, really productive day today. I thought it was the best day, offensively that we have had probably all spring.”

While freshman quarterback Hunter Johnson stood out to the coaches in last week’s scrimmage, Swinney said all of the quarterbacks made great strides on Monday with an impressive practice. He is very pleased with the level of competition at that position.

“I will tell you, we have some elite guys, and it is fun to watch them compete,” Swinney said. “They have all kind of settled in a little bit here, and it is game on. Really, just great competition at that position and all of them really played … it is probably the most consistent day we have had at quarterback as far as all of them making some big plays, all of them. Zerrick (Cooper) had some touchdowns. Hunter made some big plays. Kelly (Bryant) was tremendous today, especially with some of the plays he made in some critical conditions. Tucker (Israel) made some nice plays. They are just all competing, and I love to see that good, healthy competition.”

Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott agreed his unit stepped up to show great progress and production in one of the final practices of spring football.

“It was one of our better days. It really challenged the guys coming back from Spring Break,” Scott said. “Our throwing and catching was by far the best today. The promising thing is that it wasn’t just one quarterback or one or two wide receivers, there was a number of guys making some key plays today in some critical situations.”

He added the quarterbacks did a very nice job with extending plays.

“Kelly Bryant had a nice long touchdown I believe today…he found Ray-Ray McCloud down the sideline. Hunter Johnson continues to do well. The arrow is definitely up on him now,” Scott said.

Having the quarterbacks go live in practice on Monday for the final time helps in evaluating that position group, but offensive guard Tyrone Crowder said it adds another level of competition to the linemen as well.

“It’s a challenge. I love the competition. It puts a bigger role on us as an o-line because there is no short whistle and we have to finish our blocks,” Crowder said.

The true test of the spring is now less than a week away as the annual Orange & White spring football game takes place this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Swinney said the day will serve as the best way to evaluate how his players react to a true game situation, so he hopes the fans can help by packing the stadium. He added that there will be a Tiger Walk and a special ceremony to honor the seniors at halftime.

“If we can have 70,000 show up for a parade, surely we can have 70,000 plus show up for the game,” Swinney said. “It is a true evaluation piece to be able to have a true game environment with that many people to see how some of these guys respond.”

 

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