Goodrich, McMichael have great opportunity to play when they get on campus
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has been pleased with his starting cornerbacks so far this spring, but he knows the Tigers are thin behind starters Trayvon Mullen, Mark Fields and A.J. Terrell.
So Swinney and defensive coordinator Brent Venables will be counting on freshmen Mario Goodrich and Kyler McMichael to be ready to go when they get on campus in July.
“Just numbers alone, they have a great opportunity,” Swinney said. “But, I can’t force them to be ready. You still do not know until those guys get here and you coach them. They certainly are going to have a huge opportunity.”
Swinney said he will be shocked if the two freshmen cornerbacks are not set to go when camp starts in August. As for the rest of the secondary, the Clemson coach likes what they have in place.
“Our first group of guys, we have a really good group,” he said. “I think we have three corners that are pretty special. I think we have three safeties that will be starter type guys right now in Denzel (Johnson), K’Von (Wallace) and (Tanner) Muse. Then it depends on where you count Isaiah (Simmons) in that situation, but we have a good group.
“Again, you are repping three groups so you get thin quick. But we have a lot of guys getting some reps, though. So we have some of our walk-on guys and guys like that getting some opportunities to compete.”
Pollard adjusting to right guard. Junior offensive lineman Sean Pollard played both right guard and right tackle in last week’s scrimmage. Swinney said the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Pollard is still transitioning to right guard.
“It is still a little bit of a change for him, but he is one of those guys that I know we are going to be able to count on,” Swinney said.
Etienne is getting better. Running back Travis Etienne led the Tigers with 81 yards in last Wednesday’s scrimmage at Death Valley. So far this spring, the rising sophomore has improved in a lot of areas, especially in pass protection.
Last year, Etienne rushed for a team-high 766 yards and scored a freshman record 13 rushing touchdowns.
“He had a lot of success, but there are some areas he needs to improve … pass protection. Physically, he needs to improve his upper body strength and I think he is working in all of those directions,” Swinney said. “Then there is knowledge. Just knowledge of why we do what we do. Not just, ‘Hey! Run this!’ But a bigger picture and understanding of the offense and of the system.
“He is a great kid and is just going to get better. I think he is just what we thought he’d be right now, a guy that is focused and hungry to go improve.”