By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- According to Clemson Football Head Coach Dabo Swinney, the Tigers haven’t lost a step after having a break from practice for over a week for Clemson’s Spring Break. Although there are definitely still areas for improvement, Swinney is pleased with the progress his players have made on both sides of the ball.
“I thought in today’s practice both sides won different things,” Swinney said. “Our offense did better during the two minute drills however defense really did a great job today with the short yardage drills.”
Swinney believes that the purpose of spring practice is for players to work on the fundamentals, which is something that he has noticed his players doing often this spring, and because of this players are not only improving as individuals but as a team.
Swinney believes that Sophomore Chandler Catanzaro has improved his kicking game since last season and has a strong hold on the starting job as of right now.
“Cat has come back, he didn’t finish out strong before Spring Break it wasn’t a good day for him,” Swinney said. “But he’s come back and had two very good days, Monday and today he went 4-5”
As for first year starting quarterback Tajh Boyd?
“He’s going to be very good,” Swinney said. “I’m not worried about him. He’s going to make some mistakes, but he’s going to do a very good job for us. When you have a guy with his kind of skill set that is enthusiastic about learning, you can just tell he’s going to be a great player.”
Since Tajh has taken the starting quarterback job, Swinney has seen a great change in his leadership skills.
“He’s leading every day,” Swinney said. “He’s leading in the dining hall, locker room, on the practice field; he goes out of his way to engage everyone on the team. You don’t have to look for him; he’s around all the time and is a lot more confident which is what you want to see in your quarterback.”
One example of Boyd’s new found leadership came over Spring Break when he decided to spend his time off watching film in the West End zone and becoming more knowledgeable of the new spread offense that the Tigers will run this fall.
On the defensive side of the ball, Swinney had nothing but great things to say about defensive linemen Brandon Thompson and Rennie Moore.
“Brandon Thompson is really a day’s work,” Swinney said. “He’s going to be one tough guy to block. I love his leadership also, he’s really asserted himself in that role and I just really feel good about what he’s doing right now.”
Swinney believes that Rennie Moore, who will now fill in where Jarvis Jenkins left off has done very well and he continues to improve every day.
“When I started here as head coach, I wasn’t sure if Rennie would last but he’s hung in there,” Swinney said. “He’s not a finished product yet however he’s very fun to coach and has a lot of talent. He’s worked on his craft now and I just hope and pray that the good lord will keep him healthy because he’s going to be one heck of a finished product.”
As for Andre Ellington, the Tigers explosive running back? He’s hoping to be fully healed and back to practice no later than June.
“I feel great about how Ellington’s recovery’s going,” Swinney said. “He’s starting to mentally get to another place which I feel is really good. He’s been planting, cutting and his confidence is shooting through the roof. He’s going to be rocking and rolling early this summer.”
Because of his experience and how hard he has worked in the weight room during the off season, Swinney believes that Ellington will be a better player than he was last year and is very excited for Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris to watch this explosive back in action for the first time.
“I find myself daydreaming about what this offense will be like with him in it,” Swinney said. “I tell Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris all of the time that he’s going to love Ellington, he’s seen a little bit of him on tape but seeing him live is a completely different thing.”