Heading into fall camp, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and defensive coordinator Brent Venables were hoping Kyler McMichael and Mario Goodrich might be able to sure up some depth issues at cornerback.
With camp now over and the Tigers preparing for their season-opener against Furman, Swinney believes the two freshmen are where they need to be heading into the regular season, but they still have some work to do, obviously, before they can be totally relied on.
“They are not polished at all right now, but athletically, the mindset you have to have, that is all there for these guys,” Swinney said after Thursday’s practice behind the Allen Reeves Football Complex in Clemson. “They are just going to get better. We have been preparing for a season, but now that we start getting ready for some games, I think, they will make another jump as we kind of hone in a little bit with game plans.”
Swinney says they have thrown at a lot at the young corners and so far they are what they hoped they would be. However, they are not consistent to detail at this point, but he believes they have the tools, the athleticism and the mindset to get there.
“We are going to mix them in on special teams and then hopefully, we can pick our spots,” Swinney said. “Ideally, you would like to pick your spots when you play them, but hopefully, we don’t have to count on them to play starter type snaps, but it would be great if we could create the depth that we need there and that is only going to come from experience.
“So, I definitely think that those are two guys, as we go through the season, that will grasp things a lot better and have more opportunities to play.”
Potter in position to kickoff. Swinney said freshman kicker B.T. Potter still has a chance to win the kickoff job. The Clemson coach said he has been pleased with Potter’s progress to this point.
Swinney also admitted Potter is one of the freshmen the coaches are on the bubble with when it comes to redshirting.
Tigers head into opener in pretty good shape. Swinney says the Tigers are in really good shape from a health standpoint heading into its Sept. 1 season opener against Furman at Death Valley.
“We are in a good spot,” he said. “We are very fortunate. This is a tough game and you have to practice tough to get ready to play. We have been very fortunate to this point to come through camp in a pretty good spot.
“I have a couple of guys that got banged up a little bit this week and last week, but nothing serious or long term or anything like that.”
Injury update. Speaking of guys banged up Swinney did say cornerback Mark Fields and tight end Milan Richard were both held out of practice on Thursday with knee injuries.
The Clemson coach said Richard has just a bruised knee and he expects him to be back at practice next week and there is nothing serious to worry about.
Swinney did not give the extent of Fields’ knee injury, but he did say the cornerback was running at practice on Thursday and he sees no reason why he should not be able to play against the Paladins in Week 1.