I hope everyone is enjoying the spring weather...we should be in for some nice temperatures and such for the next month or two so I'd encourage everyone to get out and about before it gets way too hot to do anything other than swim or head to the mountains.
With Clemson's Spring practice sessions now in the books, there will be little to discuss in these areas until the action picks up later in the Summer. The big news this past week involved schedules and injuries. As you all likely know, both Chad Kelly and Sam Cooper both have confirmed ACL injuries. Kelly presented competition for Cole Stoudt, and Stoudt has responded well with the added push he got this offseason from Kelly. While many thought that Kelly was the clear #2 during his play at the Spring game, we realize that he has a ton of talent but still has many things to improve upon--including what appeared to be happy feet. Long and short, I think that Cole would have secured the backup role even if CK hadn't gotten hurt. However, the added competition along with the experience CK would have gained and comfort of knowing your team has three quarterbacks who can play would have been nice. Dabo openly said something about Kelly coming back before the end of '13. I really would like to see him get his medical redshirt and assure he is available for '14. You don't play around with ACL injuries and I am very, very skeptical about a complete 6-8 month recovery. Maybe he can get some work in on scout team late in the season. Hopefully Chad takes this time to become more savvy regarding the offense from an X's and O's perspective because he obviously won't be taking significant practice snaps this year.
Sam Cooper's injury adds more questions to an already unclear tight end situation. We were returning little experience with Cooper and now have virtually no in-game experience at this position going into the fall. Jay Jay McCullough and Stanton Sickenger were the only TEs other than Cooper returning from last season. McCullough redshirted last year and Sickenger was moved from WR to TE. Add to this mix true freshman Jordan Leggett and you have a lot of concern. All accounts peg Leggett as a guy who will be very good before he leaves Clemson. The question here is just how quickly Leggett can adapt to the college game. The Clemson tight end position has, during the Swinney era, been probably the most active than in any other half decade in school history. Guys like Michael Palmer, Dwayne Allen, and Brandon Ford were each very capable players who were a big asset in Clemson's success. Further, Chad Morris has used the TE in a multitude of fashions since he's been here. Needless to say, we'll be observing this position closely and will also be cognizant of Morris' moves--particularly in formation choices and such.
The other big piece of football news was the announcement that Notre Dame would visit Death Valley in 2015. Notre Dame has been scared to play the Tigers since we ruined Senior Day in South Bend back in '79. This will mark the Irish's first trip to Clemson since they were given the silent treatment back in '77. While I'd rather just play Georgia every year, the idea of adding Notre Dame following the home and home Georgia series conclusion in '14 is a consolation. The other Notre Dame news is their deal with NBC was extended another 10 years--with Notre Dame on tap to receive $15 million per season from football broadcasts alone. This pretty much assures that the Irish will not join the ACC in football anytime soon and will just use the ACC as its bitch in the same fashion it pimped out the Big East. They get their television money for football, they have a conference spot for non-football, and their football program gets a seat at the table with the likelihood that the Irish steal an ACC bowl spot anytime the option presents itself. The ACC advantage is essentially that they pass Notre Dame around on a rotating schedule.
The NFL draft is coming up this week. This event is always interesting. This year I am sure all Clemson fans will be focused on DeAndre Hopkins. Nuk's projections range from late 1st to 3rd round. We'll see how it all plays out and where the receiver ends up.
Baseball had the winning streak stopped against Miami in another pitching duel. We knew this would be a low scoring series and so far have been correct (Friday was a Clemson 1-0 victory and Miami downed CU 2-1 yesterday). I just hope Dr. B's prediction of a 2-1 Clemson series victory following today's game. If Clemson can win this series, they have a very manageable schedule remaining. The Tigers host both Georgia Tech and Maryland before winding down ACC play in Tallahassee. Clemson, FSU, and NCST are neck and neck for the Atlantic Division crown. NC State finishes their series at Georgia Tech today, then hosts UNC and FSU to close out conference play. FSU has one at UVa today, hosts Wake, travels to Raleigh, then hosts Clemson to end the season. Clemson clearly has the schedule advantage over both FSU and NC State and hopefully the Tigers can get it done down the stretch.
The Tournament at Augusta last weekend was one for the ages. Even though Angel Cabrera has won two majors--including one at Augusta--I realized how good of a player he really was on Sunday. His playoff competitor--Adam Scott--was able to rebound from the tough Open loss last summer to win his first major championship. Either would have been a worthy champion but Scott showed tremendous nerves and skills sinking critical putts on both the 72nd hole and the second hole of the sudden death playoff.
I have two takeaways from the tournament I'd like to discuss with neither actually applicable to last Sunday's play. First and foremost, I am interested in the anchoring rule and how it will uniformly be enforced. I have never really been a fan of the long putter and definitely not a fan of anchoring said putter. I only wish the rules folks would have gotten ahead of this item years ago. The success of the long putter recently has the timing of this potential rule change as the lead story. We'll see if the governing bodies can conclusively reach a uniform rule on the matter. Likely, whatever happens will be similar to the fallout from the ban on square grooves in that it will be a big deal initially but after a couple months everyone will just adjust and move on with different equipment.
The second item of interest is the playoff itself. I like the sudden death format for most Tour tournaments. They are great for television and play wraps up Sunday afternoon. This, however, is a major championship. It is my understanding that playoffs at Augusta used to involve a 36-hole playoff. The US Open currently uses an 18 hole playoff and the Open Championship uses a multiple hole format as does the PGA. I guess the folks at Augusta like the uniqueness of the sudden death format. The club has employed this since 1976 to settle ties in the tournament. I would like to see them go back to full round playoff--either the 18 hole playoff that has been used or the 36 hole affair that was used in the early days of the tournament. Maybe I am just a little too greedy for championship golf, but there is little more entertaining and exciting than major golf at the Augusta National.
The Neckcar boys are in Kansas City this week at, you guessed it, Kansas Speedway. The Kansas Speedway was completed in 2001. This will be just the third spring race at the track thought the track has held an event each year since 2001. As I have stated here many times, it is tough for me to get all fired up for a trip to another 1.5 mile tri-oval built relatively recently. I realize that those tracks are impressive in that they can host events for a wide-array of motorsports' series, can accommodate larger crowds, and are located in larger cities. The uniqueness of some tracks that have lost races for one reason of another is something that I believe has hurt NASCAR over the years...but enough of my bellyaching about times past--let's go racing.