By Will Vandervort
Dabo Swinney likes to call days like Monday “thuds” practice. The reason? For the first time in camp his Clemson Tigers were able to put on the pads. The eighth-ranked Tigers worked for two-and-half hours in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts.
“It was the first day we could see some hitting on the offensive and defensive lines,” Swinney said. “We have a competitive bunch and that is good to see. It was a good day. That is how you develop depth, through competition and it starts in the lines.”
Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said the intensity level has picked up a little with the shoulder pads now on.
“I was waiting on that,” he said. “Going up against offensive linemen with no pads on, you can’t even come off on them like you want to.”
Offensive tackle Gifford Timothy said it was nice for the offensive line to pop someone as well.
“It helps a lot whenever you can get some hand placement on the defensive line and stuff like that,” he said. “It was a little better transition working towards getting back to playing some football.”
The Tigers will work in the same gear on Tuesday and will go to full pads on Wednesday.
Knowing the offense. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris said he was going to have all the installation for his offense in place by the end of practice Monday. After talking to the players, it seems he was successful in doing that.
One of the guys who said he has it all down is sophomore running back Zac Brooks. That’s an improvement for the Arkansas native because that was one of the reasons why he did not see the field as much last year.
“Everything they have put out, I know,” he said. “All the stuff that we went over, I have a good grasp of it.”
A band of brothers. Timothy feels the offensive line will be a more cohesive group this season than in years past. The reason? They do everything together.
“We have actually been really close this summer,” he said. “We have done a lot of hanging out together outside of football. We spend a lot of time together as a group just to grow closer. We even group message and text each other, make fun of each other and all of that stuff.
“Tajh (Boyd) has gone out with us. He has gone bowling with us. We have done all kinds of stuff this summer just to stay as a close group. Just the other day, it was Friday, when we got out of meetings, we decided it would be a great idea to push our tables together and eat as a unit. I think that is definitely making us a lot closer.
“We are not relying on one or two people to be the leaders. I think we can all grow as a group and try to lead the team.”
Leaving the team. Swinney said after practice that two players have decided to leave the program. Dante Stewart, a walk-on defensive back from Swansea, S.C., who lettered last year, has been offered a scholarship to a FCS school and has accepted it.
Tra Thomas, a scholarship offensive lineman, who played in five games over the last two years, also will transfer to a lower division school.
“Both young men have been excellent representatives of Clemson University and have an opportunity to see more playing time at another school,” Swinney said. “In Dante’s case he will be on scholarship. We wish them the best. They will always be Clemson Tigers.”
Injury update. The injury list was the same as last Saturday’s list with one addition. Cornerback Darius Robinson tweaked an ankle last Saturday and was held out of practice on Monday. He is expected back on Tuesday.
Wide receiver Mike Williams (groin) , defensive back Mackenzie Alexander (groin), wide receiver Adam Humphries (hamstring) and offensive guard Spencer Region (Hip) also missed practice on Monday. All but Region are expected back by the end of the week.