We heard a few positives this week about the offense from Coach Swinney. As you all know, we are extremely critical of too much praise at this point in the young practice schedule. Nevertheless, Phillip Prince, Drew Traylor, and Roderick McDowell received praise early after Tuesday's scrimmage. The emphasis, especially from the media, was on Hot Rod's team-leading 76 yard outing in the scrimmage are starting to excite a few folks.
Per the P&C:
"He's tougher," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "I thought he was pretty soft this spring. He's really been a more competitive, more focused player in camp. He's running the ball with more authority. He's finishing plays that aren't necessarily there, second-effort type plays, bouncing off the first hit."
McDowell definitely has the speed to be a contributor to this team, and Clemson definitely needs added depth behind apparent co-starters Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington. We will definitely be keeping an eye Rod as the season approaches and hope that he will be a back who is ready to touch the ball to quell the starter(s) over the course of the year. The running back position is also tough a player's body, so having three quality backs would put the Tigers in a much more comfortable position entering the season.
The defense is definitely way ahead of the offense at this point, which is what you would expect in early to mid-August. We would definitely be concerned if the offense was walking all over the defense and really expected the defense to lead this squad this season so there is really no surprise in this area.
One area that is still a big question for the Tigers is Clemson's passing game. Kyle Parker was merely 9 of 18 in the opening scrimmage for a little over a 100 yards and Tajh Boyd showed out at 7 of 18 for 71 yards. Tight End Dwayne Allen led the Tigers' with just under 50 yards on two catches. No wide receiver caught more than two passes on the day. Swinney offered up that Marquan Jones is stepping up, but we will need to see continued improvement out of the entire squad to feel more confident in this group. P&C went on to praise both Parker and Boyd's performances later in the week.
One obvious advantage to Parker's rise as a baseball star was Boyd getting plenty of reps and looking at the position in a different role this Spring and Summer. There is no doubt that Tajh is in better shape to produce with his extra emphasis on his potential role as a starter the past few months. Hopefully this will payoff with a more mature freshman getting some quality snaps this year and on into the future.
There are a couple fish wraps out therewho focused of the loss of Crezdon Butler and Chris Chancellor. As we have discussed here before, there may be a few speed bumps in the transition from these two but Coach Harbison has Marcus Gilchrist, Xavier Brewer, and Byron Maxwell prepared to continue the quality play we have grown to enjoy over the past few years. Coach Cheese is a heck-of-a coach and we have the utmost confidence in him in all areas of his job--including player preparation and development.
On another note, click here to download the helmet football schedule. This has been a popular download over the years and I will assume folks still love the helmet schedule.