By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
DeShawn Williams and the rest of the Clemson defensive line heard the challenge Wednesday afternoon from head coach Dabo Swinney.
Watching his young offensive linemen dominate “Paw” drills—similar to what is known as Oklahoma drills—to open the first day of full pads in camp, Swinney grabbed the two leaders of the group—Grady Jarrett and Josh Watson—and challenged them to get it done.
At that point, it did not work as freshman running back Tyshon Dye ran right through the line for a nice gain on the next set.
“This is no way to start the football season,” Swinney yelled to his team.
Swinney is right, if the Tigers were having issues slowing down their fourth string running back with second and third team offensive linemen, what will they do against Georgia’s massive offensive line and running back Todd Gurley on Aug. 31 in Death Valley?
Williams says he appreciates Swinney getting on to them.
“It shows that in practice, we will have to step it up,” the junior defensive tackle said. “He is doing it to get the best out of us. He would not do that if we weren’t good. I just take pride in that. You can’t take it wrong. You have to swallow (your pride) and take it in the chin, move forward and practice hard.”
That’s exactly what the defensive line did when the Tigers moved to short yardage and goal line situations later in practice. Swinney said the defensive line stepped up and came to play after “Paw” drills and got better as practice moved along.
“They dominated short yardage,” he said. “They won. There were a lot of up-downs by the offensive guys today in short yardage. It’s win or lose.”
Though he was glad to see his defense play a little better in the second half of practice Wednesday, Swinney is anxious to see how they will respond when they do “Paw” drills again on Friday. Clemson will do the “Wind” drill Thursday which is a different type of drill it installed in the spring to kind of off-set the days when they don’t do “Paw” drills. The “Wind” drill is also very physical, but it is more one-on-one and winning at the point of attack at every level.
It has the offensive line and the defensive line go against each other, then there are tight ends and fullbacks climbing to linebackers at the second level, then there are the receivers and defensive backs going at it.
“The whole team is involved. It is a very fast paced and competitive drill,” Swinney said. “We will see how they respond tomorrow and then we will do the Paw drill again on Friday. I would expect we will have a little better temperament from those guys.”
Williams says practices at Clemson are so much more physical now than they were when he first started at Clemson three years ago.
“There is more hitting every day,” he said as he pounded his right fist into his left palm. “(Swinney) has told us we are all veteran guys and he was going to take care of us, but he wants us to be physical. If you can’t be physical, you can’t play this game.”
That’s why it was important that the defense respond in the short yardage and goal line situations later in practice and win the challenge.
“Coach was telling us how good we did in those situations last year. In 2011, we were below average, but last year we bounced back and did better. It starts right there,” Williams said. “We did well. We stoned them up front.
“We picked back up from what we did during the first half of practice. It proved that we can do it. We can’t have times in the game when we say, ‘Oh, I will just turn it on in the second quarter.’ It’s going to be too late if we do that. You have to turn it on right when you get on the field.”