By Heath Bradley.
Monday nights practice saw the Clemson football team put on the shoulder pads and take the field for the first time this fall. The Tigers practice both outdoors and indoors due to weather on Monday night. Practice was forced indoors for almost 35 minutes due to a passing storm. Swinney was proud of the way his team handled the rain so early in the season.
“We had to come all the way in and then go all the way out, but you know they just kind of stayed focused and didn’t get distracted,” said Swinney.
The offensive and defensive lines have made up much of the preseason talk, with the Tigers having to replace three starters on each side of the ball. Through the first three days of fall camp, Swinney has been impressed by the play of the linemen. “I really like out young guys. Those guys are competing well up front and hopefully that will continue to be the case, because certainly we are going to need those guys to come through for us.”
Swinney mentioned two players in particular that he has been impressed with to this point in camp, defensive ends Vic Beasley and Tavaris Barnes. Barnes is currently making the transition to playing end after playing the 2011 season at defensive tackle. “He is one of those guys if he continues to work and commit himself and stays healthy he is an idea body to play on the next level. He can run, Outside of Vic Beasley he is probably the fastest defensive linemen we have. He is powerful. He has his body in good shape.”
The Tigers have very little depth at the defensive end position, so this move with Barnes will allow Goodman another fast, strong, effective backup to give him an occasional rest. Swinney made it very clear that he had faith in Barnes at defensive end this season, but also that Barnes could make the transition back inside at some point and be a dominant player. “I think he can play end and be very effective, there is no doubt he can slide inside and be a dominant players as well because of his speed, athleticism, and size.”
Youth will play a major role in this Clemson season, Swinney often talks about the number of sophomores that must contribute at key positions entering 2012. While on the defensive side we just discussed Barnes, across the ball Swinney believes that wide receiver Charone Peake is poised for a big second season.
“Charone has been awesome. If there is a guy on our team on a mission it is Charone Peake. I do not know what clicked other than he got that first year behind him. He is just incredibly confident,” said Swinney.
With an offense that features players like Andre Ellington and Sammy Watkins it is Charone Peake who is currently the fastest player on the team entering 2012.
“I think he ran the fastest time of the summer of any guy on the team, which is incredibly impressive because we have some guys who can run.” Swinney told the media when describing the improvements Peake has made over the spring and summer.
Swinney seemed very proud in discussing how well Peake was currently playing even when being cross trained at multiple receiver positions at this point in fall camp. “He is just playing at a high level right now and hopefully that will continue.”
Peake’s ability to play multiple wide receiver positions will provide a key depth role for the Clemson offense. Swinney has said on multiple occasions in his tenure at Clemson that building quality depth at every position is key and having players like Peake as a backup entering the 2012 season is a direct example of building quality depth.
The Tigers will take the practice field one final time this fall in just shoulders pads Tuesday night before transitioning into full pads Wednesday night. Check TheClemsonInsider.com tonight for a practice report, and stories from coaches and players.