By Ashley Denny.
Encouraged is one word that Clemson University’s Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney has used on numerous occasions throughout the Tiger’s spring practices to explain how he leaves each practice feeling. He is pleased with how his players have put their disappointing 6-7 season behind them and quickly picking up Clemson’s first year Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris’s new offense.
On the ACC Teleconference held on April 21st, encouraged is just how Swinney sounded.
“I’m very pleased with what the team’s accomplished this spring,” Swinney said. “We’ve filled a few holes on defense and are creating depth at several positions, all while installing a completely new offense which the players have really responded well to.”
With 31 scholarship players joining the Tiger’s squad in either July or August, all a part of one of the nation’s Top 10 recruiting classes in 2011, no wonder players and coaches are leaving practices smiling in Clemson, South Carolina.
After having to make some offseason hires, Swinney could not be happier with the Tiger’s new Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris and what he’s already brought to the program.
“I feel like our players have adjusted to his system tremendously,” Swinney said. “We have personnel here at Clemson and signees that will be joining us later this summer that fit into his system very well by playing at a fast tempo and spreading the field.”
Swinney believes that Morris’s spread offense will only accentuate the skills of Clemson’s first year starting quarterback, Tajh Boyd.
“Tajh is a very dynamic young player,” Swinney said. “We want to involve every ounce of his skill set on our offense, he’s got a strong arm and I’m also impressed with how well he’s run the ball this spring.”
Who will be the starting left tackle for the Tigers this fall? That was one of the many questions answered by Swinney on the teleconference.
“As of right now, Philip Price is our guy,” Swinney said. “He’s been at Clemson for four seasons already and has had more game time experience than the rest of the players competing for the starting job. Price is a big athletic guy, who used to play tight end for us and was moved over to the offensive line last season.”
According to Swinney, Price came into spring practice with a mindset that he was going to be the starter and he hasn’t wavered.
“It shows how hard he’s been working this spring,” Swinney said. “Price even won our Most Improved Award at the Spring Game, so I feel like he’s going to be the guy to fill the void that Chris Hairston left.”
Although Swinney is pleased with the performance of Price and the remainder of his starting offensive line, he is still unsure as to who will be the second string right tackle.
However, on the defensive side of the ball, depth is not as much of a problem.
“We fortunately developed good depth last season on the defensive side,” Swinney said. “Malliciah Goodman has been a great player for us, and as he takes over Da’Quan Bowers’ spot, I hope this is his best season yet. Our front four are all very experienced players however the majority of our depth will come from young talented but inexperienced players.”
Swinney believes that out of the 31 scholarship athletes coming to the Tigers in the summer, 10-12 of them will be given the chance to play right away where the remainder will be redshirted. The question is, which members of Clemson’s stellar 2011 recruiting class will step up?