I'll start with a bit of housekeeping...Apparently SBNation now has a free iPhone App. I own a Research in Motion product, so I cannot partake but do encourage you to check this out to you can cruise STS on your mobile with ease...LINK HERE.
Tickets and Related Matters
Also out of the Clemson AD, Wofford and Troy ticket prices have been reduced to $16. If I were you, didn't have a ticket, and wanted to go to this one, I'd get duckets at the game. If you are a person who has to have tickets in hand ahead of time, I'd get them off a season tix holder who cannot make one of these games (if you don't know peeps with extras, look on message boards and/or Ebay). Tickets will be cheaper and seats will be better.
Speaking of season tickets, Clemson announced that season tickets sold out. While I am a little skeptical about the 50,038 number (who says going into a campaign that they will allot exactly 50,038 books of season tickets?), the 50k plus commitment shows that Clemson has excellent fan support particularly in the current economy and following the debacle known as Clemson Football 2010.
The next time Dabo and/or others at the university start to question the fan's loyalty and call out the supporters for being pissed about a poor product on the field, I hope they realize that these people buy duckets in tough times and do not have to spend money on such items. Supporters can expect to be more critical if they are constantly asked for donations and such, shell out the money, then see crap on Saturday. Again, all this is AFTER spending a lot of time, money, and energy to support the school. If you don't want people to be critical, don't ask them to put skin (money, time, energy, etc...) in the game. Oh, and be appreciative of a fan base that will blindly follow and contribute to this university.
Football and Personnel Related Matters
I saw some murmurings about what the improved talent will do for all the receivers and don't think we've discussed this in depth here, at least not in terms of the interactive effect lately. Nuke's been talking with the media about getting some help and not being the offensive focal point he was at the end of last year, which is a valid point. I'll be quick to remind you that Parker's issues contributed to many of last season's offensive failures in addition to the lack of poor receiver play.
Obviously, the more viable offensive weapons you have the more a defense has to worry about. Sometimes it turns into a "choose your poison" scenario like the one we were in against Carolina last year (stop Lattimore and the rushing offense and make Garcia beat you through the air, which he and Alshon Jeffery did). IF the (young) receivers are as good as they are hyped to be-per Swinney and everyone else who's seen practice, they won't be able to focus on just one or two players this season as they did at times last year. Allen and Hopkins saw this at times late. I'll point out that we'll have a receiver going vertical which should also draw attention and stretch the field as well. The route and talent combination should make everyone more productive, especially a guy like Nuke who got little support from his wide receiver teammates last season.
We've fielded a lot of questions about Martavis Bryant and you finally got your answers from Dabo, same as we've alluded to earlier in camp: Bryant is physically ready but still has not mastered all items (i.e., fundamentals, portions of the offense, etc...) to get into the upper echelon of Clemson receivers yet. He'll play and likely improve drastically over the season but he is not ready yet. (I think Swinney described the situation as him needing a whole lot of coaching attention-or something to that nature. I'll refrain from injecting my usual ray of sunshine regarding receiver coaching).
I am tired of talking about our lack of depth up front...so that's all I'll say about it today.
You know, we praised the Sweatshirt a week or so ago for putting down the artificial noise makers and acting like a responsible, realistic coach. Well, we jinxed ourselves and had to endure a Tim Tebow-like lovefest for Sammy Watkins after Thursday's practice. I won't lie, I am starting to buy into some of his hype but question our coach anointing him the next AJ Green or Julio Jones before he even takes a snap. The guy is good (apparently really good), I get it. Let his play on the field do all the talking.
If you're wondering, here is a snippet of what Swinney has to say about Watkins:
"You can't compare any freshmen to him. I've never had a freshman like him," Swinney said. "I've had a lot of good players, been around a lot of really talented freshmen at Alabama and here, but never really one quite like him, as far as the whole package, the day he walked on this campus."
I guess this is the issue that most have with the Sweatshirt, he talks the talk but has did not deliver on the lofty expectations last season. In fact many will point and say that his comments really set up the vicious fan backlash last season. Bring us down to reality and, if given the opportunity, sandbag a little. It never hurts for a player to exceed perceived expectations, especially a true freshman. Additionally, you add unnecessary stress and possibly get these young guys to needlessly press because of the expectations.
At least Swinney went on to say this about his receivers (and Sammy in particular).
"We just kind of open the box up and say go, and don't screw him up," Swinney said. "It's unbelievable. You get a guy like that, just enjoy it while you got it, give him plenty of opportunities."
I will say that I did echo Swinney's sentiments of the coaches-urrr, current and former Clemson wide receiver coaches-not screwing up with all this talent. At least he realizes that non-production at WR is directly attributable to poor coaching.
I am looking forward to Rashard Hall's junior campaign. Last season didn't seem as memorable for him (especially in my eyes) as his freshman campaign. All reports, however, indicate that Hall has put in needed effort to become a better football player. I meant to chat about this in late spring/early summer but neglected to do so. Coaches praised Hall's offseason film study, with some suggesting that they set him up an office because he was in the facility watching film constantly. Steele and Harbison have repeatedly stated that Hall will be directing traffic in the defensive backfield and have complimented him as a leader and role model. As everyone knows, Hall is currently in Grad School after receiving his degree earlier this month in, I believe, Marketing.
From here on out, the staff and team are focused on Troy. Like those folks we begin to shift our emphasis on our in-season routine.