Thoughts after a Week of Fall Practice

In case someone missed it, Munson is making short videos after practice in addition to the usual post-practice audio that you can get on TNet or wherever. All those videos are on youtube: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4. Steele speaks in Day 3's clip. Munson is at least doing something, since his predecessor did not do squat with the video department.

Otherwise things seem to be going normally for the first week of camp. You can't tell anything until they put pads on and start scrimmaging (first is Tuesday) but early returns say things are going well enough. The team will have two-a-days starting this week. Yesterday was the first day in pads and Dabo had this to say about it:

"A lot of energy, lot of enthusiasm, a spirited practice, big hits on both sides of the ball, biggest disappointment was that I saw a few guys get tired and a little sloppy towards the end of practice. Majority of the guys pushed through pretty good, had a few that got sloppy."

"Offensively put the pads on, you start seeing things from a different perspective, We’ve got to consistently finish plays, and defensively, we had a couple of untouched touchdowns, 50 yards, where nobody got a hand on the guy. We can’t give up big plays. There are going to be some plays from time to time, but we’ve got to live for another down.

"Somebody’s going to make the tackle, make the play, lt’s line up, play red zone defense, goal line defense. It was a little bit of first day in gear, intensity’s acting up a little bit. All of a sudden you misalign and take a poor angle. When you’re playing against good players, that’ll cost you. Hopefully things will go better next time we get in full gear Monday morning."

"I think we’re on schedule, we’re right where we ought to be after five days."

"Rod McDowell ran extremely hard today, he was tip-toeing through the daisies all spring, and he ran like a running back today. That was good to see."

He went on to praise the backup TEs, which I don't buy for one second. I did think that Traylor could be an adequate blocker at TE after seeing him in the spring a few times, however.

--The offensive linemen all came back to camp in a little better shape as a group. Kalon Davis has lost 35lbs from the 378 he was carrying, but in 7 months thats really not much. Right now it appears he's set to backup McClain, and Napier said he was not going to redshirt. Mason Cloy lost weight in the ROTC training he went through (under 290), and both Hairston (lost 20) and Walker (at 305) got in a little better shape. David Beasley showed up to camp at 319, about 20 more than it should be. Phil Price is just under 300lbs now, so he's finally big enough to play, its just a matter of whether he can actually do it. We still need a full training table, but this is still progress. Sawchik talks about the experience in the trenches here.

Since 1972, when Clemson returns four or more starting offensive linemen, as the Tigers do this fall, Clemson has averaged nine wins per season.

A Wall Street Journal study last year concluded offensive line experience predicts success. The analysis noted two of 2008's biggest surprises, Utah and Mississippi, returned more than 80 starts along the offensive line, while two preseason top-10 teams that faltered -- Clemson and Georgia -- returned fewer than 40 starts.

The research validates conventional thought: experience is paramount along the offensive front where five players operate in unison. Fueled by a veteran offensive line this fall, Clemson hopes to surprise in opposite fashion to the 2008 team -- strong at skill positions but weak along the offensive front -- that disappointed.

Well then they better win 10 and put up 500 yards rushing on North Texas and PC.

--There doesn't seem to be much on the WR front to report, other than McNeal and Hopkins doing well so far. We already expected Hopkins to avoid the RS and everyone who saw the spring game knows that McNeal played well and is now up to the size he needs to play the slot with Marquan. I am encouraged that I'm not hearing much about the drops we had big problems with last year.

--Steve Fuller will be recognized with the ACC Legends Class at the ACC Championship Game, same thing Danny got recognized for last year.

--Clemson released a few Level II Secondary violations, which are pretty stupid.

--Rivals has released position rankings and gone through some superlatives for the conference. Its hard to argue with some of this stuff. They put Hairston, DMac and Bowers (despite calling him overrated) on the 1st team All-ACC. Jarvis Jenkins made 2nd team.

BEST OFFENSIVE NEWCOMER: Clemson WR Bryce McNeal. Miami redshirt freshman RB Lamar Miller might have greater potential, but we're not sure how many carries he will get in the Hurricanes' crowded backfield. So we'll place our bets on McNeal, who could get more of an opportunity because Clemson lacks proven receivers. McNeal, a redshirt freshman and former Rivals100 prospect, showed his big-play potential by finishing with more than 100 yards on just three catches in a spring scrimmage. Other newcomers who could make an impact include Virginia redshirt freshman RB Dominique Wallace and North Carolina's Bryn Renner.

MOST OVERRATED PLAYER: Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers. The highest-rated recruit in Clemson history arrived on campus as the No. 2 overall prospect in the 2008 recruiting class, but he has recorded only four sacks in 955 career snaps. Bowers still has enormous potential, which he showed off with an 11-tackle effort in the ACC championship game. He remains a blue-chip NFL prospect. But he needs to develop into more of a pass-rushing force.

Bowers has repeatedly acknowledged that his production has been weak over his first two years and that he is consciously trying to pick it up this year. He slimmed down and hasn't been wearing the knee brace, but I do not want to hear about Bowers' knee this postseason like we did Sapp's as an excuse. If its not 100%, sit on the bench and fix it.

As far as the unit rankings, I think they've short-changed us a little. I wouldn't say we're the 5th best offensive backfield or 3rd best DLine. I don't see how you can put Butch Davis' staff at 4th and Clemson 6th, when Butch can't teach his team how to score points.

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