Normally, coaches and players are not happy about having to take a week off just three weeks into the college football season. But as everyone knows, 2020 has not been a normal year.
With the way the summer conditioning program went and an extend fall camp, if you will, due to the reorganizing of the schedule, No. 1 Clemson could not have had an open date at a better time.
The extra time allowed the Tigers (2-0, 1-0 ACC) to heal the bumps and bruises that came with camp and the first two games, as well as allowed the players to just relax for a few days and recharge their batteries for a six-week stretch of games before their next bye week [Nov. 14], as long as there are no stoppages, cancellations or postponements.
Clemson will begin its six-week run in the ACC Saturday when it hosts Virginia (1-0, 1-0 ACC) at 8 p.m., inside Memorial Stadium in Clemson.
“The team is in a good spot. This is probably as healthy as we have been in a long time,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said after Wednesday afternoon’s practice. “We pretty much have everyone going with us to the hotel this weekend and keeping them together.”
Below are some of the comments Swinney had after Wednesday’s practice.
Swinney asked to evaluate cornerback Sheridan Jones. “He has done great. He is really about-his-business guy. He and [Andrew] Booth. I am so proud of both of those guys. Two really talented young players. Obviously, both of them got a little bit of experience as freshmen last year, but this is a developmental game and it does not matter how good you are in high school, it usually takes a little bit of time to get your feet on the ground and get your confidence where it needs to be. More importantly, you are getting the knowledge you need to have to play fast, to display your skill set.
“Sheridan has been great and so has Booth and it is good to have Mario [Goodrich] back healthy and rolling. I am excited to have a full group. It is the same thing with the two freshmen that we have in Malcom [Greene] and Fred [Davis]. Both of those guys are just great young talent. I am super excited about that whole group.
Defensive end Greg Williams is ‘Good Bamboo.’ “Speaking of developmental, he is the epitome of that, and we have guys all over our team that way. There were a few guys like Jackson Carman when he was a freshman. But if you look at [Matt] Bockhorst. His first time to start, he is a fourth-year junior. Cade [Stewart] is a fifth-year senior. These are great players for us, but nobody was talking about those guys as redshirts and redshirt freshmen and some of them as redshirt sophomores. You look at [Will] Putnam. He was a backup last year. He is a different guy. Jordan McFadden is a redshirt sophomore, a third-year guy who has just gotten better and better. Look at Braden Galloway. He is a third-year guy. The same thing at linebacker. Baylon Spector is a four-year (player). He is a redshirt junior, so it is his fourth year. He is developing. K.J. [Henry], [Justin] Mascoll, it is his third year, guys are developing and getting better and is exciting to see.
“Greg is one of those guys. We have a saying around here. We say, ‘Good Bamboo.’ Just keep watering the bamboo. If you know anything about bamboo seed, you can plant it and water it for a year. You can water it for two years. You can water it for three years. You can water it for four years, and everyday you see nothing, nothing. Then all of sudden, if you stick with it and keep watering it, and in year five it will sprout up like ninety feet in six weeks. We have so many guys like that and that is what I would say about Greg. We just keep watering him every day and eventually he is going to be a really good player for us.
“He is made of the right stuff. It is important to him. He has the skills and so the transition and all that he is learning, it is fun to watch. The same thing with Regan Upshaw. This is a kid that is really helping our football team and he is a fifth-year senior that is kind of blossoming right in front of us.”
Defensive tackle DeMonte Capehart has a long way to go, but he’s going to be good. “He is just a big, talented young player that has a lot to learn. He missed a lot of camp. He had to spend sometime away from here, so that hurt him a little bit. But since he has been back … I love his self-awareness. That is one of the things I like about him. Obviously, he is very talented, but he is very self-aware of what he needs to do to improve. I love guys that have that type of awareness.
“He is a guy that is not afraid to work. He is going to be special. He is a guy that it is going to take a little bit of time. The biggest thing is he has some very talented guys in front of him that he can see. That helps when you have a great example to learn from and to be a part of that expedites the learning process. So, we are fortunate, and he is fortunate that he has great visual to see.
“Todd [Bates] is an awesome coach and is doing a great job with him, but he will be one of these guys that we just talked about… In a normal year, he would be a redshirt guy. A classic guy that needs a year, like Isaiah Simmons was a redshirt guy. We have had a lot of great players that were … Vic Beasley was redshirted, so he would be in that category, but obviously this is a different year.
“So, he will have an opportunity to hopefully play and really maximize his development this year, as opposed to just playing four games. I am proud of him. He is working hard. He is coming along. His fundamentals are getting a lot better, but he still has a lot to learn.”
Joseph Charleston is Tigers’ third starter at safety. “He is going to be a great player. He was one of those guys we played as a freshman last year. We could see it coming. The same thing with Lannden [Zanders], any experience we could get them last year we knew could pay off this year and it certainly has. Joseph is a fun guy to watch play football. If I were playing wideout, I would know where No. 18 is because he is going to be around that ball, and you are going to know it when he is there. He is a very physical player. He loves that part of it. He can play either safety.
“He is our next guy in right now. I have a lot of confidence in him right now. He, Lannden and Nolan (Turner) are our three-starters type guys. They can play starter snaps for us with no problem at all, but he is a really good young player with a bright future and is a guy that has some diversity to him and we can move him around a little bit.”
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