Consider Dabo Swinney pleased with where his team is at the end of spring practice.
Clemson held its annual Orange and White scrimmage on Saturday with the White team getting a late to score to win 14-13. It was the first chance for fans to see what next years team will resemble.
Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Cornell Powell and Amari Rodgers have all moved on, meaning the Tigers offense had an all-new look with sophomore D.J. Uiagalelei taking over control of the offense. However, those weren’t the only guys missing as Clemson took the field with a large number of players unavailable for the game.
Despite all that, there is a lot to like about this Clemson team. Some of the faces may have changed but the talent level has not. In fact, this team should feature even more talent across the two-deep as evidenced by Swinney’s remarks afterwards.
“I’m excited about what we have a chance to put together,” Swinney said. “Especially when we get everybody back.”
The Clemson head coach says this will the most experienced team he’s had since the 2018 season when the Tigers went 15-0 and won it all and Swinney loves what he has seen from his veterans from a leadership standpoint.
“This team is definitely further along than last year’s group,” Swinney said. “There’s no doubt about that. The ’18 team, you know those guys were with such a veteran group. This will be the most veteran team we’ve had since that ’18, you know, from a leadership standpoint. So I’m excited about that. Definitely ahead of where last year.”
Clemson had issues along the offensive line last season. The Tigers were replacing four starters and the group never really gelled. Depth was an issue as well, and not only along the offensive line. Injuries hampered the Tigers defense too, causing the coaches to rely more heavily on inexperienced youth. Swinney doesn’t foresee those things being an issue in 2021.
“It’s not even close because, again, just so young in the offensive line, and we’re still young,” Swinney said. “But we got more guys functionally, mentally ready to go compete and can play winning football for us. The same thing on defense. We’re more mature up front, more guys that have been through the battles and got a few scars on them.”
Overall Swinney is happy with where his team as of right now. However, there are still several months before the season opener and the Tigers’ head coach said there is still more work to be done.
“A lot of good things this spring,” Swinney said. “Now they’ve got four months to transform. Sept. 4, the lights come on. We’ve got a lot of work to do to be ready.”