The Clemson football team has been infested with bugs, the injury bug and as spring practice winds down, Dabo Swinney says his team is struggling to even scrimmage. Sound familiar ?
Swinney met with the media after Wednesday’s scrimmage. Ever upbeat he stated there were fifteen players out right now due to injury or illness.
“We’ve got a lot of guys out,” Swinney said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys out, probably 15 or so. We’ve had a couple guys with mono that are going to be out for the rest of spring, so that’s kind of a bummer.”
Swinney made an interesting analogy about Clemson Football’s plight.
“It’s like minor-league baseball,” he said. “We’re kind of having to console our coaches in a couple of spots, because you’ve got what you’ve got. Because we’ve got a lot of guys that need work, but you’ve got to put 11 out there. So, we’ve got linebackers playing corner, we’ve got a little bit of everything just so we can get the practice in.”
“It’s like minor-league baseball. You’ve got to get games, you’ve got to get reps, you’ve got to put a team together so you can play games. So, today was a little bit of that.”
In spite of the injuries, as usual, Swinney always tempers the not so good by highlighting the good. Here are a few takeaways from the second scrimmage of the spring, held in Death Valley.
Offensive Line a Work In Progress
The aforementioned injury bug hasn’t necessarily hit this group. Junior Walker Parks is out due with a case of mononucleosis and freshman Colin Sadler is out sick as well, but otherwise this group is relatively healthy.
“We’ve got a big group of redshirt sophomores and we need all of them to make a jump,” Swinney said. “We’re seeing that in all those guys.”
“Marcus Tate is a different guy. We’re seeing what you want to see. Just the progression there and the confidence. I think he’s earned the confidence.”
Swinney also weighed in on Will Putnam’s move over from guard to center.
“Has had about one bad snap a day,” he said. “He had one today. But he has really done a good job for a guy that has not snapped and all of the sudden, it’s live bullets. He’s not perfect yet, but by the time we get to August, I think he’s going to be polished and ready to go.”
Overall, the head coach is extremely happy with what he’s seen from the group this spring.
“All that group of offensive linemen who have been talked bad about and had bad articles written about them, ‘they’re awful’ and all that stuff, I think that whole little group is progressing,” Swinney said. “That group is making some strides.”
Throughout spring practice, Swinney has stated that DJ Uaigalelei has looked sharp doing everything asked of him by Brandon Streeter and staff. Cade Klubnik is a rising star. All who’ve watched him play say he’s the real deal.
Healthy Competition Among Quarterbacks
“DJ has had an excellent spring,” Swinney said. “I thought he started out a little slow in the first series today and then he kind of picked it up. He manages things well. He has great ownership of what he’s doing. He’s had a couple of great, great days.
“Cade just continues to impress. Really talented young player. I think he needs to be touching 200 (pounds). I’m not going to be pouting if he’s 198.”
“He is just a sponge. He loves every bit of it. He is 188 (pounds), right at 190 now. He is heading in the right direction there, so I am just proud of him.”
Defense in Midseason Form
Even with the staff changes, this defense is impressive. Swinney really liked what he saw from the secondary.
“The defense set the tone today,” Swinney said. “They got their hands on the ball. We haven’t really intercepted the ball all spring, but today they had two picks. That was good to see. What I’ve seen in the secondary is really good.
“Nate Wiggins has a chance to be special. He’s having the type of spring we all hoped he would have.”
“(Andrew Mukuba) can do a little bit of everything. His exposure this spring has been really helpful to our team.”
“Jalyn Phillips is one of the best leaders on this team and one of the most improved football players on this team.”
The head coach has even been impressed by the two freshman corners already on campus.
“(Jeadyn) Lukus got nine good days (of practice). He’s got a good foundation. So, these last six, he’s just kind of mentally staying sharp and getting well from his surgery. He’ll be 100 percent and ready to go.”
“But we saw enough in nine days with him to know that we hit a home run with him and Toriano (Pride). Those are two ready dudes. It’s rare that you see guys that physically and mentally can get it at that position. Those guys are not overwhelmed.”
The spring game is set for April 9 at 1pm and will be televised by the ACC Network.
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