By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- After a day off from practice, the Tigers were back to work early Monday morning, and when Head Coach Dabo Swinney spoke to the media following practice, he was pleased with some of the improvements made but believes that the team as a whole is nowhere near where they need to be to be a dominant football team.
“After watching the tape from Saturday’s scrimmage we’ve got some guys that are progressing nicely,” Swinney said. “And we’ve got a group of guys that are going to be role players for us and are doing a pretty good job right now of performing their roles. But we’ve also got a group of guys that are frustrating us, we’ve got to get something out of them and they’re just progressing slower than we’d like.”
Although Swinney was not thrilled with the overall performance and intensity of Saturday’s scrimmage, he believes that his players have learned from watching the tape of the scrimmage how to correct the minor mistakes made.
“It wasn’t a good scrimmage, but it was a good first start,” Swinney said of the Tigers first fall scrimmage. “Today they came out here with great energy and enthusiasm, we had good meetings last night and we worked a couple of different situations today. This is a big week for a lot of guys, we’re coming back tonight, have a one a day tomorrow and then have a situational scrimmage Wednesday.”
Swinney believes that there are a few guys that if they’re going to make a move, this is the week to do it.
“We’re frustrated with some guys on both sides of the ball,” Swinney said. “Mostly veterans that can definitely help us, that we’re challenging but they just haven’t responded, and we haven’t kept it a secret that they have to step it up in order to earn playing time.”
As for the freshmen group, Swinney couldn’t be more pleased with how they’re progressing so far this fall.
“The freshmen are progressing nicely,” Swinney said. “I tell you that freshmen group is a really good group, and it’s shown in everything they’ve done. WE got their grade reports back the other day and they did an outstanding job with the two classes that they took this summer, all of those guys, lots of A’s and B’s. But those guys we have a little more patience with but they’re coming along quite nicely.”
Quarterback Tajh Boyd, who really stood out on the offensive side of the ball in Saturday’s scrimmage, looked just as good on tape to Swinney as he did in person.
“Tajh had an excellent scrimmage,” Swinney said. “He took care of the ball and made good decisions. He had some very good throws, with what we asked him to do and I’m just very pleased with him.
Backup quarterback freshman Cole Stoudt did not have as good of a scrimmage but Swinney isn’t worried because he came out Monday to practice and performed much better.
“Cole didn’t have his best day,” Swinney said. “But he’s one of those guys that he came out here today and had a better day. But he’s a really poised young guy and the first time this fall camp he didn’t scrimmage like he’s practiced. He’s a true freshman though and he’s just going to get better, I’m not worried about Cole.”
Swinney has been very encouraged by Gifford Timothy and Reid Webster, who have both made progress and jumped up the depth chart of the offensive line where the Tigers are lacking depth.
“We’re really encouraged, they’ve still got a lot of work to do but we’re really encouraged of what we’ve seen of both Reid and Giff,” Swinney said. “Reid is improving, making progress, working primarily at guard now. Giff is very coachable and also making progress, he did a pretty good job in the scrimmage as well. I’m very proud of Giff, his stock is definitely rising.”
The lineman who Swinney believes has been the most consistent so far is none other than Philip Price, who is leading the way in the competition at left tackle.
“Price has been the most consistent of any of our linemen,” Swinney said. “He’s had the best camp of anybody. He’s really really playing well and I’m proud of that. He’s playing with an edge, a chip on his shoulder and really trying to be a leader for us. It’s been interesting watching his transformation into this role.”
Swinney believes that his Tigers are in good shape both installation wise and physically.
“We just got to get some more guys to become a little bit more knowledgeable.” Swinney said. “But as a football team I think we’re on track. It’s the first scrimmage; we’ve still got a long way to go. We’ve got excellent leadership and that’s continued to show. We’ve got about 23 guys on defense right now that we can count on and you can go out there and win with 18. I think we’re about there on offense too, but we want to have as many guys as possible that will take pride in doing their best and will go out there and help us win. We’ll see how we are this weekend but I expect us to go out there and be much better next Saturday as a football team.”