For the second time this spring Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney put his quarterbacks in real-game situations, and for the second time he liked what he saw.
Swinney allowed quarterbacks Kelly Bryant, Zerrick Cooper, Hunter Johnson and Tucker Israel to be tackled like the rest of the team when the team had it’s good-on-good and situational sessions in Monday’ practice.
“I will tell you, we have some elite (quarterbacks) and it is fun to watch them compete,” Swinney said. “They have all kind of settled in a little bit here, and it is game on. Really, it is great competition at that position and all of them really played … it is probably the most consistent day we have had at quarterback as far as all of them making some big plays, all of them.”
Swinney said Cooper threw a couple of touchdown passes and his best day overall this spring, while Bryant was tremendous he said, and Johnson showed more improvement. Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott had a lot of praise for Bryant and Johnson afterwards and said Johnson’s arrow is on the way up.
“They are all just competing, and I love to see that,” Swinney said. “It is a good healthy competition. All of them have been ready when there number is called.”
Defense still made plays. Though the offense shined on Monday, Swinney still saw some good things out of the defense. Marcus Edmond had an interception, and Amir Trapp, who was working on punt returns on Monday as well, continues to catch Swinney’s eye from time-to-time.
“He just has to be consistent,” Swinney said.
Overall, he was disappointed that the defense did not finish like he feels they are capable of.
“They have had a great spring so this is really the first day where I can kind of walk off the field and say, ‘Wow! The offense kind of won the day.’ There has been some close competition at times but defensively they have been very consistent all spring long, but today there was too many big plays and we could not quite get off the field like we needed to.”
Ring ceremony. Swinney says they will have a special ring ceremony for the 2016 National Champions on Wednesday night for the current players on the team. Then on Saturday, at halftime of the Orange & White Game, it is going to be all about the seniors.
The winningest senior group in the history of the school will be presented their rings at halftime in front of the crowd at Death Valley.
“We have a really cool video that I think the fans are going to enjoy to see, that will go along with that,” Swinney said.
Swinney says the team will get three rings and they will get a really nice case for all three rings. One of the rings is from the College Football Playoff. They send their own ring to the champions, while the second ring will be the ACC Championship Ring that will celebrate the Tigers winning back-to-back titles, and then there will be a special National Championship Ring from Clemson.
Tiger Walk, Swinney calls out the fans. Swinney said they will have Tiger Walk for the spring game. The Tiger Walk will be at 1:05 p.m. They will come down the hill about 2:25 p.m.
Swinney also said he wants to see a large crowd on Saturday … a record crowd. Last year, Clemson announced a record 55,000 at the spring game. Swinney wants to see one bigger than that.
“If we can have 70,000 show up for a parade, surely we can have 70,000 plus show up for the game,” he said. “It is a true evaluation piece to be able to have a true game environment with that many people to see how some of these guys respond.”
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