By Trey McCurry.
Clemson took the practice field Wednesday for its first full day of preparation for its season opener versus North Texas.
“I’m really glad we have some extra time to get ready for these guys,” said head coach Dabo Swinney. “Not only is it an opener, which you always worry about, but also this is a truly unknown with all the new things at North Texas. With a new offensive coordinator, you have to prepare for what you have seen them do plus you have to prepare for what they may do.”
Swinney spoke briefly about a slight change of plans for practice for the upcoming week. After a regular practice on Thursday, the team will then move its annual “Beenie Bowl” up one day to Friday afternoon. This move will allow the players to have a little time off their feet while still working toward the September 4th opener. The players will still have meetings Saturday, have Sunday off, and go to a full game week schedule Monday.
A major topic of discussion after practice Wednesday was the released of the depth chart for the North Texas game. It was interesting to note that there are several sets of co-starters on both offense and defense.
The second year head coach addressed this area with reporters after practice. “We have a bunch of guys that deserve to play and we are going to play them. We have competitive battles going on and that’s a good thing. I want to play as many guys that deserve to play. Maybe somebody separates on game day, but right now it is too close to call in a couple spots.”
As noted on the depth chart, co-starters are listed at five positions. The positions are: left guard (David Smith and Mason Cloy), both wide receivers (Xavier Dye and Brandon Clear on one side and Jaron Brown and Terrance Ashe on the other), nose guard (Brandon Thompson and Miguel Chavis), and weak-side linebacker (Brandon Maye and Tig Willard).
Swinney looked as these battles as good for the team. He also talked about how depth makes good teams. “It doesn’t matter that much who starts. It is important to have some depth, have a fresh player at the end of the game.”
One area that Swinney reiterated that there is not a co-starter is at placekicker. “Chandler Catanzaro is the starter at placekicker. When we started camp I told him I wouldn’t put him out there unless he had won the job by a knockout. It was going to be an upset for him to do it. But, he did. Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson a few years ago and Catman has won the kicking job at Clemson.”
As noted earlier, the Tigers return to the practice field tomorrow as the continue to prepare for the season opener now just 10 days away.