Thoughts as Spring Practice Begins - 5 Questions

"I’m real excited about getting onto the field and starting with this 2010 team," he said. "We’ve answered a lot of questions this year. We’re at a different point with this team. We’ve been through the fire. It’s not new. We know how we want to practice, what we want to practice. Last year, we signed 12 [in the recruiting class]. We feel good about this class we’re bringing in here. Minimally, we should be better. We should be a smarter team, staff. That should show from day one.

"If we can do the job the right way, it will help us play at a high-level every week. It’s a focus area for us. We’re good enough. As we evaluate all of the film, we’re pretty pleased with all of the information. We’ve got to take a little bit more pride in our consistency. If we can do that, we can have a very good year." (source)

Clemson started spring practice yesterday, and now comes the time when you hear of the offseason all-stars who get built up to superhuman levels and then come crashing down during the season. Last year it was Antoine McClain that got rave reviews from everyone, and then missed the most assignments of any starting lineman. Oh, and remember Rendrick Taylor, the Football King of Spring?

We've done our Positional Analyses (and the last one for the DL will come out this week), so I don't see any reason to do a spring preview. I would just keep in mind that whatever news is reported, here or elsewhere, in the next few weeks should be taken with a grain of salt. It is still just practice and scrimmages, its not performance under pressure in Fall against Auburn or UNC. Some guys don't practice worth a damn (Walker) and some light people up in practice so much that you'd think they are made of gold (Taylor).

This spring, we'll be looking at a few question marks.

1. WR corps. Can the young guys catch yet? Can they run routes any better and get open when we dont have Spiller and Palmer to catch the passes?

2 .Left Guard and the Tackle situation. Right now, David Smith is being moved to LG, but I don't see how he beats Mason Cloy for it in August if he's 100%. I think Norris should be moved to LG for Spring since he reps as a Guard already, but Brad disagrees. Technique things are the same for both positions so Smith can still learn at Guard, but I'd rather have him rep against the quicker Ends/LBs he'd see in Fall when he's moved back to Tackle.

Now with Price repping at 2-RT, Walker will have no one to light a fire under him. With his reputation so far as a lax practice player, we might come out disappointed with Walker in a few weeks. Brandon Thomas will start repping at 2-LT as a redshirt freshman. Recall that the 2's roll out as a unit in practice, so you cant tell Smith to rep at 1-LG and then 2-L/RT successively, so the depth chart is a bit misleading.

In reality, Smith would step in at either L or RT if Hairston or Walker went down. Putting in Price or Thomas shouldn't cause you to have a meltdown.

3. I have a suspicion that Tajh Boyd will be built up so much by writers this Spring that he will be the favorite player on the team this fall by TardNetters, especially if he doesnt play. Everybody loves the backup, and you'll hear people screaming for Boyd at the first sign of Parker struggling. Just remember, Parker has one year of reading NCAA defenses, and that experience counts. I also suspect you'll see at least 10 articles about Parker's baseball/football dilemma.

4. Linebackers. We need them to step up. They are talented, at least according to the recruiting sites, but none really has done anything yet. We'll see a definite rotation this spring but I suspect if a few guys continue to put on some weight, then things will change in Fall and the post-spring chart will be meaningless. I would not be surprised to hear us sticking to more Nickel and running out Meeks as a pseudo-SAM backer like we did with DMac 2 years ago.

5. Corner. Most of you, myself included, think that Maxwell will have one spot locked down soon enough. He did admirably last year. The other though is up for grabs. It could be Brewer, it could be Sensabaugh, or maybe someone like Spencer Adams will get moved over with the speed he has, but I think/hope Gilchrist steps into it.

Year 2 of a defensive scheme reaps the most gains, especially a complex one like we run. If the defense is not well ahead of the offense this spring I would be concerned. Bowers needs to step up his game to make up for the loss of Sapp, but I'm excited by having both Safeties back and expect quite a bit of 2 High Shell coverage.

Swinney will seek a new commitment to excellence this year, says Greg Wallace. We'll see.

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