By Trey McCurry.
After over two days off the practice fields, the 2010 Clemson Tigers returned to the practice field Thursday evening. Second year head coach Dabo Swinney was not pleased with how the team returned to the field after the short break.
“Today was a sloppy practice. We looked like a good 6-6 team today. I know it was the first practice after the first day of classes and we were away from the practice field for a few days, but that is not an excuse. There were just too many mistakes today. We can only be as good as we are committed to being and today just wasn’t very good.”
One of the major points of Swinney’s post-practice talk today was again on the kicking situation. He targeted Chandler Catanzaro as one of the bright points of today’s practice. “The Catman (Catanzaro) is way out in front at this point. Spencer Benton and Richard Jackson are super talented, but right now based on performance Benton is second with Jackson third. But like I have told Jackson, I’m not giving up on you and don’t give up on yourself.”
Swinney pointed out that there are still two-and-a-half weeks til the first game so Catanzaro has to continue performing to win the job. “It’s a long season, so you have to keep competing every day. Every day is a new day and a new beginning.”
When asked more about the kicking situation and what he has been pleased with, Swinney continued to heap praise on Catanzaro. “I am really pleased with the Catman, he has been outstanding all camp. I’ve been very pleased that we have a guy kicking it with his kind of consistency and hopefully the other two can get in the race too.”
Swinney also addressed another area of special teams: the return game. He said Marcus Gilchrist is the number one guy on both kick and punt return. With the Tigers three person kickoff return setup, Gilchrist will be the deep back while Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper will be the up guys. Other guys Swinney pointed out as using as possible returners are Bryce McNeal, Jaron Brown, and Rod McDowell.
Another main discussion point was the red-shirt status on some of the freshman class. “We don’t play for two-and-a-half weeks, so we don’t have to decide that that today. We would obviously like to red-shirt as many guys as we can. Justin Parker and Nuke Hopkins are headed in the direction to help us. Those are the only two I can say right now. There are three or four others on the bubble that we still have a few weeks and some scrimmage work to go before we make a decision.”
Swinney welcomed back Kyle Parker to practice after Parker missed the late practice Monday and Tuesday’s scrimmage so that he could focus on signing a contract with the Colorado Rockies. Da’Qaun Bowers also returned to the practice field after missing the previous 10 days to deal with the death of his father, Dennis.
“I spoke with him (Bowers) some before practice and we welcomed him back at the team meeting this afternoon. He was excited to get back out here and get to work and get back to some normalcy. He was very close to his dad and this has been a tough 10 days for him.”
Swinney also pointed out several other players that have had to deal with tough family situations in the last few days. “We have had some tough family situations lately. Brandon Clear’s grandfather passed away and he will be leaving tomorrow night for the funeral, while Justin Parker’s mother has had some significant surgery recently.”
The Tigers will practice tomorrow night and have a scrimmage Saturday morning before having Fan Appreciation Day activities on Sunday.