By Trey McCurry.
After taking yesterday off from practice to visit the Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville, Head Coach Dabo Swinney’s Tigers were back on the practice fields Wednesday.
“They were really into it,” Swinney said to the media after practice. “I saw that on Monday night, too. They were anxious to get back. I would kind of characterize them as mad. They’re kind of mad at what happened Saturday. They are mad at themselves. They want to do something about it to get it right. It was a good practice. I like the leadership of this team. I like what I see from that standpoint. Today and tomorrow is like a typical Tuesday practice for us. We had good meetings yesterday. A good team outing, which was fun. Another good day tomorrow and we’ve got a good start. We’re in our plan already for Miami. One more day and they’ll be off this weekend and then we will get back to work on Monday for a normal week.”
One of the major things Swinney addressed was the tight end position and the move of Brandon Ford from wide receiver to tight end. “We’re taking Brandon Ford and moving him to tight end,” Swinney said. “We actually started toying with it a week or so ago. We made it a full-time move for this season right now. We’re going to see if we can get him up to about 235 [pounds]. He really has great ball skills. He’s a little bit of a better matchup inside against some of those bigger linebackers. We had been toying with it a little bit for a couple of weeks, and we just haven’t moved him. We’re going to see if we can grow him up a little bit. He wants to do it. Darrell Smith did a really good job the other night when he got in there. I think he’s capable of being a solid guy. Dwayne – I’m proud of him because he stepped up. He played offensive snaps, he’s playing punt team. He’s getting after it.”
Another focal point was the offensive line – with the loss of David Smith, at least for a couple of weeks. The injury will force Mason Cloy into the starting left guard role, while also increasing the role of Brandon Thomas. “Mason moved to left guard and we put Brandon Thomas in there,” said Swinney. “Brandon’s going to be fine. He’s a football player. He got some guard work. We trained him up at guard some in camp. It’s not like he hasn’t been in there. He’s a really good tackle, too. He’s kinda like David Smith in that regard.”
Speaking of Thomas, Swinney said he spoke with him today and basically told him it is time to step up. “He’s a luxury kind of a guy because he can play either spot. We’ve got a little bit of flexibility. He’s played a little bit now to where he’s got some confidence to go with his youth a little bit. But he’s a big, strong guy that’s athletic, can run and is physical. I think he’ll do a good job for us.”
Tajh Boyd took all the snaps with the first-team offense, with Michael Wade working with the “twos” on Wednesday as Kyle Parker continued to take a break following the injuries he sustained during the Auburn game. “KP was there for all of it. He looked better. KP was moving around much better, actually. I think that will continue over the next several days. Hopefully he’ll come back Monday ready to go.”
With the open date this weekend, the players will have a few days off before beginning a historic stretch of eight ACC games in eight weeks as they work towards a second-straight appearance in the ACC Championship game.