Monday Morning Quarterback
This is a big week for several players as Clemson concludes spring practices with its annual Orange & White Spring Game this Saturday at Death Valley. The Tigers will practice two more times this week—today and Wednesday—before splitting the team up and playing Saturday’s 1 p.m. game.
But there are still plenty of things to get accomplished this week for a Clemson team that will likely be projected No. 1 or No. 2 when the preseason polls are released this August.
The Tigers are still looking for a starter at running back. Running backs coach C.J. Spiller said there is no pecking order at this time. Swinney said all the running backs ran well in last Friday’s scrimmage and he is pleased with all of his running backs overall.
However, Kobe Pace’s name is the one name that has consistently come up in the post-practice interviews and it appears he might be Lyn-J Dixon’s biggest challenger for the job when the team gets back together for fall camp in August.
On the offensive line, Hunter Rayburn appears to have taken the lead at center. Swinney and offensive coordinator Tony Elliott have both raved about the redshirt sophomore. With Matt Bockhorst unable to practice live reps at left guard, Paul Tchio has taken advantage of the opportunity and has add a very big spring to this point.
Jordan Williams and Walker Parks are still battling it out for the starting spot at left tackle, though Swinney has said Parks has proven he is a capable starter at either left or right tackle.
Swinney also said they have built some quality depth on the offensive line, which was the objective this spring, but now they have to close out this last week and show they can be a little more consistent in their production.
The main issue on defense is in the secondary, an area Swinney was not pleased with after Friday’s scrimmage. The coaches feel good about the cornerback positions, but they want to see them be a little more consistent.
However, safety is still the bigger issue for the Tigers and by the way it sounded it seems like the team needs to get better play there. Last year, Clemson’s safeties were out of position or missed too many tackles and it cost the Tigers, especially in its College Football Playoff loss to Ohio State.
In last Friday’s scrimmage, they again gave up too many big plays and there were missed tackles. This week will be big as the coaches see who is improving and who they have identified as players they can count on this season.
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