Camp is only three days old at Clemson, but Dabo Swinney is very encouraged by what he has seen from his defensive line thus far.
“My biggest encouragement to this point is that they just look so different than they did in the spring,” he said following Monday’s practice. “Those first three days of spring practice, it was like ‘Wow! We got a lot of work to do.’ But we just look totally different.”
It has helped that the Tigers’ welcomed back veteran defensive tackles Jordan Williams and Nyles Pinckney back to practice after they missed all of spring while nursing injuries. Besides Williams and Pinckney being back Swinney says he is also impressed with the way guys like James Skalski, K’Von Wallace, Tanner Muse, Justin Foster and Isiah Simmons have led the defense overall.
“Those guys have worked their tails off in this off-season from a mental standpoint,” he said. “We are young upfront … we are young. Obviously, Nyles and Jordan getting back in there, that makes all the difference in the world. But across the board we look just so much more like a knowledgeable defense.
“We are much more coordinated. Guys are flying around. I am very encouraged with the work they put in when nobody is watching. I say that all the time, that is when you make your biggest gains. Coming out of spring and that transformation. That group has truly transformed mentally and physically since the last time I have seen them on the film.”
Monday was the first day the Tigers were in shells—shoulder pads and shorts—and Swinney wanted to see how things looked on the defensive side of the ball with the shoulder pads on.
“It is off to a really good start with that group. They are young, but I’m excited about what we have to work with and where we are from a progression standpoint right now.”