By Gray Gardner.
Clemson had the first day of two-a-days Friday. Coach Swinney is pleased with the chemisty of the Tigers.
The hot word coming out of practice Friday morning was “chemistry.”
“I really like the chemistry of our team,” Head Coach Dabo Swinney said following the first of his team’s two practices Friday. “I like how they’ve worked.”
Swinney said the focus now turns from installing more of the playbook to honing back in on the fundamentals.
“The biggest thing for us is – just as the installation is slowing down – kind of going back through some things, re-teaching some things,” he said. “That’s what tonight will be about. Tonight’s going to be a teaching practice because we’ve got a lot of mistakes to correct and hopefully we’ll get a lot of these guys really focused in for the scrimmage tomorrow.
“I like the chemistry, I like their work ethic. They have a real humble attitude and spirit to them and I like that. One week in, we’ve got a long way to go, but I think we’re in pretty good shape right now.”
Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele echoed Swinney’s words.
“We’ve got good chemistry,” he said. “You know the older guys have got good knowledge of the game…good football I.Q. The installation is not hard to them. The thing with them is that they play hard but we got to keep on the little things, the little technique things like leverage. Leverage and technique, fundamentals – those type things.”
“I DON’T GO DOWN LIKE NO SUCKER”
Speaking of leverage and technique, Rennie Moore is a guy that prides himself in the fundamentals of the game.
“That’s where I work with Coach (Batson) with my lower strength and I listen to Coach Brookes and I listen to Coach Hobby,” Moore said. “I work on my techniques and when I do it, it works.”
“Size is not a big deal in there. You’ve got to be low in there, that’s the whole part. I work hard out there,” he continued. “Now occasionally you get washed. There ain’t no softies out there (on the offensive line). Occasionally it happens. You’ve just got to know how to go back and remember to go back to realignment. Knowledge of the game – that’s what makes you a good player.”
Lots of questions have been swirling around concerning Moore’s ability. Moore said that, quite frankly, those questions make him mad.
“I’m not gonna lie, it does. I guess you just got to prove it to the crowd. I don’t feel like nobody’s going to knock me off the ball. I’m sorry. That’s not my M.O. That’s not gonna happen, man. I’m Rennie Lee Moore, Jr. and I don’t go down like no sucker. That ain’t gonna happen. I’m too tough for that.
“People ask that, ‘Are you going to be able to handle (starting)?’ I just say yes and I keep smiling because I know I’m gonna show them come game time.”
THOMAS READY FOR COMPLIMENTS
Dabo Swinney mentioned that Philip Price is “having a really, really great camp.” But Swinney said not to count out Brandon Thomas just yet.
“I’m going to tell you, Brandon Thomas – I haven’t had many nice things to say about Brandon. But I told him today, I’m going to watch the scrimmage tomorrow, and I’m almost ready to talk nice about Brandon.”
Thomas has not quite lived up to expectations yet, but Swinney is hoping he has turned that around.
“He’s done a great job in camp. He’s playing guard and tackle. He’s really talented. He’s got great feet and good size and strength and can move and all that, but he’s starting to act like he wants to be a good player.
“I’m anxious to see him scrimmage tomorrow and hopefully I can continue to talk nice about him.”
Tomorrow will mark Clemson’s first scrimmage. Swinney said he’s hoping it be helpful in forming the depth chart.
“One of our biggest things is trying to develop the depth,” Swinney said. “So many times I’ve felt pretty good about our first group on both sides. We’ve got some guys that have proven we can win with them. They’ve played a lot of football and the coaches are confident in them. We’ve just got a lot of holes to fill in behind that first group.”
“We’ve got a lot of talented guys and a lot of competition,” he continued. “But some of them are going to separate themselves by mistakes. So I’m anxious tomorrow to kind of see where some of our depth guys are.”
Swinney said he is especially excited to see the new freshmen perform.
“I’m anxious to see some of our young guys for the first time in that setting,” he said. “Some of the things I’ve seen on the practice field I’m anxious to see show up in a scrimmage situation. Tomorrow will be the first opportunity where we get on the field and they can play football and let their natural instincts kick in.”
NEW PLAYERS PROGRESSING
Speaking of new freshmen, Kevin Steele also commented on the progression of the young players on defense.
“Nobody has been disappointing,” Steele said. “Nobody’s been like, ‘Oh, word.’ Not at all.”
Steele said that he would refrain from naming a player that is performing well because he “could name you five things he did bad, too.”
“I’d be wrong to sit here and start naming names,” he said. “But they’re progressing. Their heads swim sometimes but they come back sooner and move on to the next play. There’s a lot of athleticism in that young group.”
-Swinney said that tomorrow’s scrimmage will focus a lot on special teams.
“I want to see our kickers have a good day. Chandler (Catanzaro) has had a couple of good days in a row. Ammon (Lakip) is really competing. We’ll do some extensive special teams coverage tomorrow. We’ve got a lot of do. There will be a lot of learning from this video tomorrow.”
-Andre Branch suffered a neck/head injury in practice on Thursday. Swinney said that it wasn’t serious, but with precautions concerning concussions, it was advised that he should sit.
Swinney expects Branch to return by Monday, if not sooner.
-In a more comical moment after practice, Kevin Steele was asked if the new no-huddle offense was giving his defense any problems. Steele responded sharply:
“We’re a no-huddle defense. We’ve seen no-huddle offenses before. It’s kind of like you asking an astronaut after his 17th mission to the moon, ‘Did the lack of oxygen affect you?’ If he’s done it before he doesn’t think about it. Guys, come on. There’s been no-huddle teams around for a good while now. And two-minute offenses have been around ever since two minutes have been around.”
-There will be no media availability for tonight’s practice. We’ll have more coverage following tomorrow’s scrimmage.