By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- After Monday’s practice, the first day of pads for the Tigers, Clemson’s Head Coach Dabo Swinney expressed to the media that he couldn’t be more pleased with the improvements his squad has made since he last worked with them during spring and the energy they’ve shown throughout the first three days of fall camp.
“It was good today to get the pads on and seeing them fly around,” Swinney said. “It was good to see guys hit. It was a good day today on both sides of the ball. We worked a lot of third down today, got into some different third down situations, we’re trying to install all of the situations that we’ll face but also continue to install on both the offense and defensive side, we had a good bit put in on both sides today and it seemed like they handled it fairly well for the most part. It was good to get the pads on though and see some banging and clanging.”
When asked if any particular players had stood out to Swinney so far, he was quick to answer that although the veterans have looked very impressive; the freshmen class who are still trying to catch onto Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris’s new system are adding a little bit of competition and giving the veterans a run for their money.
“No one in particular has surprised me,” Swinney said. “The veterans look good, but the thing about this team is that they look like they’ve paid a price, they’re in shape and look like they’re committed and the guys that should be standing out are on both sides of the ball. The veteran guys are leading the way, and I continue to be very impressed with the freshmen group and how they’re absorbing some stuff.”
Coach Swinney has been very pleased with freshmen offensive linemen Ryan Norton and how quickly he’s absorbed the new offense and has gotten a good amount of work at center because of it.
As for the place kicking competition going on between starter Chandler Catanzaro and freshman Ammon Lakip, Swinney said they’ve both looked solid so far.
“The kicking competition has been okay, solid,” Swinney said. “We’ve only had two days to kick because we didn’t get to kick the first day outside with the rain. Chandler came out of spring #1 and he’s looked solid so far. Our freshman Ammon I’ve been impressed with him, it looks like he’s going to have a chance to compete. He has to adjust a little bit as far as getting the ball up, a little change for him. Dawson Zimmerman has done a great job punting the ball, however I’m very impressed with him as a holder, and I think he’s going to be an excellent holder.”
What did Swinney have to say about Jonathan Meeks and how he’s stepped into the leadership role that DeAndre McDaniel had last season at safety, and how he’s developed so far as a player?
“He has grown so much since the time he got here,” Swinney said. “If you look at what exactly we want at that position he’s the picture of it. He’s a high character first of all, loves to play and be coached, loves to study the game, loves to watch film, he’s always in the film room, he’ll probably be in there before he goes home tonight, he can run and he’s just a physical guy, he’s got everything that we’d want and I really believe he’s got a chance in these next two years to develop into a great player.”
Overall, Swinney is very pleased with where the team is right now. Although they still have plenty more of Morris’s new offense to learn before September 3rd, Swinney has seen his team really absorb everything that is thrown at them and they continue to improve every day, which is something that leaves him as a Head Coach encouraged at the end of the day.