Swinney says D-line is ‘night and day’ from where it was last year

Swinney says D-line is ‘night and day’ from where it was last year

Football

Swinney says D-line is ‘night and day’ from where it was last year

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Clemson’s head coach ‘super encouraged’ by O-line as well

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said after his team’s sixth practice of the spring on Friday that the defensive line is far ahead of where it was a year ago, and it’s not close.

Talented true freshmen Bryan Bresee, Demonte Capehart and Myles Murphy joined the D-line corps when they enrolled in January, adding more depth to a group that includes defensive ends Xavier Thomas, K.J. Henry, Justin Foster, Justin Mascoll, Greg Williams and defensive tackles Tyler Davis, Nyles Pinckney, Jordan Williams, Etinosa Reuben, Ruke Orhorhoro, Darnell Jefferies and Tayquon Johnson.

“Just night and day from where we were last year,” Swinney said of the D-line. “Just not even close – in every area. Just overall talent, functional depth, knowledge, experience. We’re way further along than we were this time last year. Leadership… I’m very pleased with that group as a whole.”

Meanwhile, the Tigers are tasked with replacing four starting offensive linemen from last year’s team – center Sean Pollard, guards John Simpson and Gage Cervenka, and right tackle Tremayne Anchrum.

Swinney loves what he has seen from the first-team offensive line so far this spring, specifically left tackle Jackson Carman, center Cade Stewart, guards Matt Bockhorst and Will Putnam, and right tackle Jordan McFadden.

“Our first group offensive line wise is big-time thumbs up,” Swinney said. “Man I am super, super encouraged with those guys. Blake (Vinson)’s not out here right now. He’s out here, but he’s not doing any live work. He’s going to be a good addition for us.

“But I mean, our two tackles – McFadden and Jackson – really super job. And then Bock is Bock, he’s just really great. Two guys that I’m so pleased with is Cade and Putnam. Putnam is really improved from where he was. That just shows you what a little bit of experience will do for you, especially when you get a reset and kind of go back to base one. You’re like, ‘Woah!’ You just realize how far you’ve come. So, just really pleased with them.”

The second-team offensive line is a work in progress according to Swinney, but he is confident in the pieces he has in place.

“Our second group right now is all freshmen,” he said. “The defense doesn’t really slow down, so it’s a challenge. We’ve got the right guys. They’re kind of getting a little baptism right now, but that kind of comes with it. I love the guys we’ve got. We’ve got a lot of teaching, a lot of coaching to do, but really encouraged. They’re the right guys, just not very good right now.”

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