I tend to wait until I've read most of the articles on spring practice and seen enough before I post any impressions and this year is no different. You'll hear a new name making highlights every day and only the ones that do it often are really newsworthy. Dabo might pump up different guys on different days in response to questions too. Yesterday we had what I believe is the 2nd scrimmage of Spring ball and as I expected going in, the defense is well ahead of the offense, which is still in the reinstallation phase. The team as a whole is still a bit sloppy which doesn't really surprise me in Spring.
- OL - Not impressive. Its harder to judge when they go against the best DL in the ACC but I was particularly unenthused by Walker. Smith looked fine at LG and McClain looks only marginally improved. Smith did come in with the 2's at LT some as well. Wilson Norris was 2-LG. Mason Cloy was moving around and is improving, he'll be gone this summer for a month for ROTC training.
- WR - Still having considerable trouble catching the football, particularly Bryce McNeal, who Dabo says is thinking too much out there. WRs do have to make a coverage read on the fly pretty quickly for some routes. Expect to see McNeal used just like Jacoby Ford was on orbit plays. Route running OK. Dye, Marquan, and Ashe will still start but don't be surprised if Jaron Brown finally makes a move up the depth chart. If he puts his ball skills together with the route running he'll be a good one, and I do still expect him to take or seriously push for one of the two outside spots in August. We predicted he would in our WR position review and stand by that. Also, Clear has good skills and it would be nice if he just put 2+2 together out there, and then both outside guys would be in jeopardy. Sawchik looks over the depth chart here.
Talk about what you like now at receiver. You've mentioned them a couple of times now this week. Who's got your attention there now?
Dabo:"All seven of those guys have competed very well. They were not making a lot of mistakes. They're really executing properly. Brandon Clear had an excellent day today. Jaron Brown just continues to progress. You come out to practice and you don't notice him, you need to take your glasses off. He just jumps out. Bryce is just still processing info. He'll make a play and then he'll drop a ball. That's a product of him not being fully focused. Dye had a good day today and made some nice plays. Marquan continues to keep his arrow going up. Brandon Ford has had a good spring. All those guys have done well. Terrance Ashe is just as steady as they come. It's a solid group but right now I'd say Jaron, Marquan and Clear and Dye? they stood out the most."
Is that the group, the foursome, that you need to really step up in order to have a lot of success there this fall?
Dabo:"Well yeah, absolutely. Last year it was about our offensive line. I feel like we have a group there that has proven that they can win at a high level. Yeah, our wideouts are going to have a lot of eyes on them. But I'm confident in them. I'm excited about them. Just as I sat here this time last year and was excited about safety. Yeah? we had some guys who had to go prove it. But yes, I have all the confidence in the world in the guys we have on campus now and the guys that are coming in here. We're going to have an excellent group of wideouts that are going to pose a threat." (swinney post scrimmage conference)
Other notes from last weekend's practice are here.
- Dwayne Allen - on par to be this year's King of Spring. Aside from a decleater by Spencer Shuey yesterday he looks damn impressive. May need to work on extending his hands from his body to make the catch. Blocking was better but need some more practice at it. You don't wanna know how his backups looked. When Dabo was asked who stood out to him so far, it was Allen.
- RB - Andre Ellington is lethal, but you already knew that. He finds a hole = TD. Harper looks good so far as well. Rod McDowell looks like another scatback type.
- With Brother Bill there for the Clinic this week, the defense showed that they were going to be the strength of this team again. In the early 7-on-7 the LB play was pitiful though. Maye is out still with the stress fracture in his foot and Hawkins looks like the definite #2 LB but some guys still look like they dont know whats going on. Cooper and Andrews don't make plays at SAM. Willard has been at WILL but I still expect that to be Maye or Hawkins' spot. I like what I'm seeing when the offense adjusts its strength -- the defense changes the front. I expected that to happen more last season than it did.
- Secondary - outstanding. Gilchrist was playing Nickel but where he ends up is still going to be up in the air, I still say he takes the spot opposite Maxwell. Meeks looks pretty good so far and I hope he'll be able to contribute more, he needs to be groomed for DMac's job this season. DMac himself is being challenged to be a real leader this offseason by the staff, and one of the things he's working on is man-man techniques. Thats an indication for you that Steele wants to be versatile when he has to play a 3rd LB, as well as Nickel situations where DMac will have to go one-on-one with somebody. Spencer Adams is repping some at Corner but is raw.
- Rennie Moore really stood out but Cumbie gets stood up too much so far. The rest of the DL seems to be just fine. Josh Watson looks QUICK, but needs muscle. Kourtnei Brown has serious muscle gains since the last time I saw him. Lots of guys have slimmed down up front.
- Tajh Boyd is not on the same level with Parker, but is similar to how Parker was last spring. Boyd's passes do tend to sail a little and his accuracy isnt as good as Parker's (which needs some fine-tuning). He throws bullets though. This week is Boyd's time to work though, with Parker gone to Charlottesville. Swinney says Parker himself hasn't lost anything and I'd agree with that, it appears like its December for him.
- With the way Parker is lacing the baseball, it may be time to really think about his leaving. I would rather see what Parker does facing good pitchers before I get anxious, and it is possible for you to play Rookie-league ball and then come back to football in August, you just cant be on scholarship. This Baseball America chat is worth a look.
- New numbers via LW: 5 (Jonathan Meeks), 18 (Jaron Brown), 33 (Spencer Shuey), 34 (Quandon Christian), 42 (Corico Hawkins), 48 (Kasey Nobles), 82 (Drew Traylor)
- GNews photo galleries here.
- Sawchik gives his 5 Players to Watch, and I always wonder, why is it always 5 questions or players to watch? why not 3? why not 10?
Finally, Cockfan is going nuts because some legislators said some things about black recruits going to SC. Leaving aside my intense hatred of the chickens, this has to be one of the dumbest things I've ever heard, right behind the NCAA boycott. I expect Ron Morris to weigh in on it and piss everyone in the entire state off soon.
Oh and EDSBS shows the real truth behind the Stephen Garcia helmet cam....as if Steve wants to see how dumb his QB is through his own eyes.