On Tuesday, Dabo Swinney was not happy with the way his team was acting. After Clemson players started to get chippy with each other, he stopped practice with about three periods to go.
I thought we got a little sloppy towards the end of practice because they decided they wanted to push and shove on each other so we just kind of ran for the last three periods of practice,” the Tigers’ head coach said. “They were not quite as chippy today. They decided they wanted to practice a little bit so I thought today was a better day.”
Wednesday was the first day No. 2 Clemson was in full pads. The Tigers began practice with a little bit of live work with a tackling drill Clemson calls “Paw Drills.” It’s Clemson’s version of the Oklahoma Drill.
The Tigers also ended practice live with a little bit of short yardage and green zone (10 yards and in) work.
Wednesday was the first time the coaches really got a chance to see who stands out and who does not.
“I have been getting teams ready to play for a long time and I have a method I believe in wholeheartedly, as far as how we get ready and how we practice,” Swinney said. “There is a certain amount of live that you can do and you have to make it count. You can’t just go out there and go live every day. You could at this time of year, but that is not very smart, so we try to be smart with how we practice and the first day of pads is the first time that we are really able to get live work in.”
Swinney says in pads, he gets an opportunity to see how guys respond to hitting. How tough are they? Can they be physical?
“The game is a little different when you are going all the way to the ground,” he said. “Some of those tackles you think you made in thud, they don’t necessarily happen. Guys bounce off and you don’t quite hang on so the game is a little different. I thought they did a nice job today. We got into some green zone inside the ten and got into short yardage today.”
The goal is to prepare the players for what it is going to be like out on the football field when it is for real. Clemson will have its first stadium scrimmage of the summer on Saturday.
“We have a few more things we have to get done and get them ready for all the situations that might come up,” he said. “It was good. It was very physical as you would expect. This is a fast and physical team.
“They are practicing right now the way I need them to.”
Thomas gets the hit of the day. Freshman defensive end Xavier Thomas had the hit of the day when he picked up reserve running back Ryan Mac Lain during Paw Drills and spun him around—twice–before slamming him into the ground. To Mac Lain’s credit, he popped back up and jumped to the front of the line and went again. Mac Lain went straight at Thomas, but it was just a normal tackle.
“Ryan, he is as tough as nails,” Swinney said. “Xavier, he is kind of freaky like that. He is incredibly strong and that was one of the highlights of the day.”
Lyn-J Dixon also made some noise. Freshman running back Lyn-J Dixon really showed what he could do in practice. He had a couple of touchdowns in situational drills and showed his explosiveness getting through a hole.
Swinney said at the end of practice co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tony Elliott has a “horseshoe up his butt” after hitting on a running back for the second straight year from a small town.
Dixon is from Butler, Ga.
Injury updates. Wide receiver Tee Higgins has a hamstring injury and sat Wednesday’s practice out. There is no time table on when he will return to practice, but Swinney indicated it is not too serious.
Higgins injured his hamstring on Tuesday.
Right guard Sean Pollard was in a green jersey, which means he participated in practice but was limited. He did not participate in any live drills.
Linebacker James Skalski was wearing a yellow (no-contact) jersey again on Wednesday as he has all of camp so far. Defensive end Chris Register was also in yellow.