By William Qualkinbush
Since his arrival at Clemson three seasons ago, offensive coordinator Chad Morris has often opined that he learns a lot about some of his players when the hot, humid weather hits the practice field.
Rarely has he gotten to see how they adjust to conditions that make October seem downright balmy.
With the temperature barely reaching 70 degrees and a steady rain falling for much of the morning, the Tigers responded to an unplanned rest day—sort of—with a spirited morning session in the indoor practice facility.
Swinney was pleased with his team’s efforts after letting them go early on Thursday. He described how he set up his big announcement by doing something he does often during practice.
“I just spotted the ball at the goal line and said, ‘Let’s go, right now. This is how the game could start right here. It could be the first quarter, could be the fourth quarter. Are we ready?’” Swinney said. “Of course, there was a lot of excitement, which was good to see.”
Swinney then told the team to go home and get some rest, a pronouncement that elicited a spirited reaction from the entire team.
“You would’ve thought they had won the lottery or something,” Swinney said with a grin.
Swinney commented that he thought his team was a little tired after Wednesday’s workouts, which included a situational scrimmage. He hoped a few players would use the day of rest to recover from some minor injuries that have kept the team from evaluating some of its potential contributors in advance of the matchup with Georgia in a couple of weeks.
One of the players Swinney wishes he could see more of on the field is tailback Tyshon Dye. The freshman has been dealing with a lower back injury that has limited him for a few days, and others have seized the opportunity to shine in the available reps.
Fellow freshman Wayne Gallman has also received rave reviews for his play thus far, and Swinney intimated that he may be the freshman most likely to get substantial playing time against the Bulldogs given his performance in camp.
“He’s a violent runner, very tough, very smart,” Swinney said. “He hardly ever makes a mistake. For a true freshman to come in and pick it up the way he has is impressive.”
Swinney was also thrilled to see Martin Jenkins get quality work in against the Clemson receivers. The Tigers’ head coach said Jenkins matched up well against Sammy Watkins during practice on Friday, which was a positive sign considering the arthritis that has plagued him during camp.
“He’s been practicing all camp, but he’s kind of just going and doing what he can do,” Swinney said. “That guy right there, he loves to play. He loves to practice, and he knows this football team needs him.”
Swinney referred to Friday’s chilly weather as a “sign of the apocalypse”. Clemson has had a physical preseason so far, so Thursday’s off day—while appropriate, in Swinney’s mind—was also unexpected. The Tigers are hoping the rest of the preseason’s surprises are all positive moving forward.