By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- After Monday’s practice, Head Coach Dabo Swinney expressed to the members of the media that in order for the Tigers to have the team and season that they want to have they would have to do the little things better than everyone else.
“Being in good football position, lining up properly, these are all things we have to do a great job with this summer,” Swinney said. “They need to take some ownership and we’ve got to go to a whole other level on these little things.”
According to Swinney, the team worked out well today, practicing some situations that they will definitely see during game days.
“We did a little line work today,” Swinney said. “We created some second and long situations which are good because if you want to have a good defense you better create some second and longs. And offensively if you want to be an aggressive offense you’re going to have some second and long situations.”
After dealing with a family tragedy, defensive end Andre Branch was back Monday and ready to practice which was something Swinney was very happy to see however offensive lineman Antoine McClain did not practice as he is dealing with a sprained MCL, and is questionable for Saturday’s Spring Game.
Sophomore wide receiver DeAndre “Nuke” Hopkins has had a very solid spring for the Tigers so far however Swinney still feels like Nuke has some room for improvement.
“I want Nuke to focus on learning how to play the position,” Swinney said. “There was so much thrown on him so quickly last year and he really relied on his athletic ability quite a bit, but he and Jaron Brown, the light is just shining bright on both of them right now, and I’ve seen some big improvements in Nuke, he’s just so much more technically advanced now and is working on his craft which is great to see.”
Swinney would like to see more out of defensive end Mallciah Goodman who has big shoes to fill, as he is taking the spot of Da’Quan Bowers.
“Mallciah is one of those guys that we’re challenging a little bit,” Swinney said. “There’s a whole other level for him, kind of like Da’Quan, he’s going to have to have a big summer and come back with his mind and body ready to take the next step. If he can do that he’ll be a great player but as of right now he’s just a good player.”
As for the competition for backup quarterback? Swinney feels like Cole Stoudt has the edge as of right now.
“I think Cole has kind of separated himself a little bit,” Swinney said. “He’s kind of grasped things a little bit quicker. Tony McNeal is going to be an excellent player, but I just think there’s been some separation, Cole is just throwing the ball a little better and making plays. He’s out there looking like a redshirt freshman, and Tony is still looking like a true freshman.”
Although Swinney is pleased with the progress made by the two freshmen quarterbacks, he remains confident that starter Tajh Boyd is the man for the job.
“This is Tajh’s football team,” Swinney said. “He is clearly the starter, but he’s not perfect there is still a lot for him to improve on and learn, but the only way you’re able to get better is by playing, there’s no better teacher than experience. He has worked every day for this opportunity and I can tell.”