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Practice Notes, One Week of Install to Go

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Then we get into game week preparation for Troy, and by that time we'll have pinned down the preseason depth chart. Clemson will practice Tuesday morning and rest Weds, shells Thursday, and Friday is the Beanie Bowl. Saturday will be in the film room and after the weekend we should have an idea on who rolls out.

Theres not a ton of news out, but we're doing much of the same thing you are and soaking information up before putting fingers to the keyboard. Reporting on each day of practice seems a waste unless something actually happens that day.

- We did catch from Justin Parker's interview last week that he is crosstraining at MLB and SAM still, and I hope you caught the reasons why from Steele. The 3-4 set is just a 1st/2nd down defensive set, and the Under front is best for a pro-style set, and since our offense is almost entirely 3-wide all the time, we're showing a lot of Nickel in practice. In Nickel, there are 2 linebackers: the MIKE, commonly called "Mac" in the Nickel or Dime because he's not in the middle anymore; and the "Money" position ($). Sometimes the $ is just the WILL backer, because they line up in the same place...but it is also a spot where you can put a FS for coverage purposes, and Marcus Gilchrist and Rashard Hall did both play at the $ spot last year. Justin has the experience at Mac backing up Hawkins, and perhaps Anthony isn't quite there yet in the Nickel set.

With Steward likely playing this year, and Anthony definitely playing, I'd expect Townsend and Goodson to redshirt as we originally projected. Spencer Shuey is playing all around, but you and I both know that he's not playing over one of these freshmen or Justin Parker inside.

I'm a bit puzzled over the position flip of Anthony and Steward, but I'll see why in a few weeks.

"The truth of the matter is, the common eye couldn’t tell me whether they were playing mike or will," Steele said. "Not with all the formations we see."

Which is true most of the time, one is protected by a DT and one isnt, but otherwise they're very similar positions in the Under front. SAM is the oddball LB spot in that front. The thing is, Hawk will have an easier time holding his spot because of the responsibilities of the MLB in changing the front and QB'ing the defense than would Willard. Anthony may have an edge in the ability to learn quickly thus far, which could explain the move.

- Looks like it'll be Brewer at one CB spot and Sensabaugh at the other, at least to start out. That is not surprising, but if Sensabaugh is starting (despite his 4.31 speed) by midseason I'll be surprised. Brewer will play the Star position (Nickelback) with Martin Jenkins in Nickel sets.

I'm more interested in how the rest of the secondary depth chart shakes out. Breeland will likely be the first one behind Sensabaugh, and Robinson behind Brewer. I'm not confident in Carlton Lewis' ability, and judging by what I've heard, not many are. Capable backup? sure, but will he push Hall? Not likely. Garry Peters seems to be an option there at FS, but we don't have a backup SS yet. I think if Davis doesn't RS, that they may have no choice but move him to FS and bulk him up.

"Lewis, when healthy, he’s got the skill set, is a smart guy and has gained his confidence back," Steele said. "So we’ve got some work to do there, but he’s played, and we have a trust factor. Peters has the skill set, but he needs a lot of reps."

"That second group, a little bit frustrated with them. Too many young guys out there playing like young guys, and they have to step up because we’re 14 days away from playing, and they’ll go out there and play three or four good plays, then one like they’d never seen it. That’s a little frustrating, but we’ll have to keep working with them."

Before DeShawn Williams turned his ankle he'd have been the 5th DT, and I still think he will be once thats alright. The DL is otherwise set for now, but Steele is not happy inside:

"Not fast enough, not far enough. Ability-wise, we have some who have stood out. But not ready to play in a game."

- On offense it has become more apparent where guys are going to be used. None of this really surprised us after studying the offense, except that I would give Watkins several reps at the 5 as well.

2-man: Sammy Watkins and Bryce McNeal - Outside to the RH side, often gets jet/rocket sweeps. This position gets more touches than any other aside from the RB.
5-man: Jaron Brown and Charone Peake - Inside slot to the RH side, gets deep balls, major target of the system. In 3-WR sets he's often the Flanker.
9-man: DeAndre Hopkins and Martavis Bryant - Outside to the LH side, like a Split End.

You'll recall from our first post where we stated how the others get used. The 4 is a FB/H at times and sometimes a ballcarrier. The 3 is a TE or RB. It really depends on the playcall as to who you see line up where.

Dwayne Allen is a 3-back type who would also line up at the 4 and 5 in situations, for example. Brandon Ford got substantial work at the 5 as well. McNeal has worked at the 9 as well.

"This offense is a better fit in the sense I am able to create mismatches and capitalize, and a better sense in that it’s different," Allen said. "I’m able to show versatility being off the line or in the backfield, running different route concepts."

but incoming recruit Zac Brooks is tailor-made for this position in the offense. When Joe Craig returns, we think he'll be a 2.

- With all the fuss about Brandon Thomas in Spring, and then the staff saying he had come on some in Summer, why the hell do I keep hearing he's a big softy still? Its all mental with this kid. He's got every tool he needs to be a good Tackle. Gifford Timothy isn't ready at RT, and unless Ryan Norton picks this scheme up quick, we're still stuck with 7 guys we can play and no depth up front. This is a serious problem for 2011, and even moreso for 2012 if nobody steps up. I don't think they're at all inclined to actually play a freshman OL.

"To be real honest with you, you don’t want to play a freshman if you don’t have to," Morris said. "And the way we’re playing, I can’t foresee playing a freshman."

But it does look like they think Price can do it. I'll be convinced when I see he can handle Brandon Jenkins. Remember the Matador vs FSU a few years ago?

- From everyone I talk to, what you see in print about Boyd's progression is true. He really is picking things up in practice well. Don't fall in line with the lemmings until you see him do it in a big game though. Even KP could rip up patsies. Hopefully The Chad will walk Tajh through the playbook in a similar fashion as Gus did Cam Newton.

"If we feel this football team would be a better run-oriented team, we’re going to be 60-40 (run-to-pass)," Morris said. "You can be as much as 70-30. Every team has a little different identity.

"Last thing I want to do is put a lot of pressure on Tajh early on. He’s having a great camp, but you can’t overload them. A cluttered mind is a slow mind. And these kids can’t play slow."

- Right now I wouldn't be surprised if 17 of the incoming freshmen get RSs. This is a good thing for the future.

- Finally, as we firm up our weekly posting schedules for the season, we see a gap during the first part of the week. We do our usual postgame bitchfests and tirades on Saturday, and then the Film Review takes me almost all week. The game preview for Friday takes almost all week to do properly as well. This means we'll need another writer to help with football news and notes during the first part of the week. Our only requirement is that you not pump sunshine all damn day, and be able to write one article per week. If you'd like to do this, we'll need you to email me privately.