By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney described the first practice of the spring Wednesday as “average.”
“We have raised the standard up a little bit around here,” he said. “Anytime you rep three groups and we are always pushing the envelope as coaches and looking at some new things and different ways of doing things because we are trying to get better.
“That’s what spring ball is all about.”
Swinney thought practice was just okay and he hopes his team can have a little bit better day on Friday.
“The guys’ enthusiasm was very good. The energy is good,” he said. “But we were not as crisp as I would have liked to have seen us be on Day One.”
Battle plans. Swinney says they have plans for a lot of guys along the offensive line this spring, but they have just one plan for reserve left tackle Isaiah Battle – they want him to compete at left tackle.
The sophomore totaled 153 snaps last year while playing in five games, but most of those snaps came in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against LSU. He played a career-high 73 snaps due to an injury to Gifford Timothy at right tackle, and an academic causality before the game in Shaq Anthony.
Clemson ended up moving Brandon Thomas to right tackle, while Battle finished the game at left.
“You just throw him out there in practice and see if he will compete and win a job,” Swinney said about Battle. “That’s the bottom line. It is as simple as that. There is no difference of a plan for him as there is for anybody else.”
Timothy started the spring wearing a green jersey, which means no contact, and is expect to miss all contact drills this week and most of next week.
“We will probably cut him loose next week and get at least one full day with him (before spring break),” Swinney said. “When we come back, he will jump in there and do everything. Until he gets fully in the mix, we are not going to have quite the competition that we want to have.”
The rest of the offensive line seems to be in good shape. The Tigers seem to have a lot of flexibility at almost every position. Thomas, as he proved in the bowl game, can play right and left tackle and can even move inside and play guard if need be.
The center position has Ryan Norton and Jay Guillermo battling it out, and both can play guard as well. Then of course there are starters back in Tyler Shatley and David Beasley at right and left guard, while Kalon Davis, Reid Webster and Spencer Region will be fighting for playing time too.
Joe Gore, Patrick DeStefano, Jerome Maybank, Eric Mac Lain and Anthony will also be battling for playing time on the offensive line.
“We have some talented guys that all want to play,” Swinney said. “When it is all said and done, and we get through spring ball and these guys continue to develop in the summer and another fall camp, then we have a chance to have some flexibility in our offensive line.
“You may not have to hold your breath quite as much as you have in years past. We have a little bit more moving parts as far as guys that can cross train a little bit.”
Swinney says Timothy and Mac Lain are two players that could move inside and help out at guard if they need them to.
Defensive ends. Swinney says all of his defensive ends are interchangeable. Right now, the Tigers have Tavaris Barnes, Kevin Dodd and Shaq Lawson working at strong side end, while Corey Crawford, Vic Beasley, Martin Aiken and Ebenezer Ogundeko work on the weakside.
“Pretty much all of those guys are interchangeable,” Swinney said. “Whoever the best two are, that’s who is going to start.”