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2014 Masters Sunday -- Sunday Thoughts

Tyler Smith

I apologize for my delinquency last weekend. I ran into an off-the-STS buzz-saw that featured playing golf and having the privilege of heading over to the National for a bit. I'll dive into the golf soon enough, but first the football action. Clemson laid rest to the 2014 Spring sessions with the Spring Game yesterday. First off I'll say that ESPN's Spring Game coverage is incredible. Years ago I never would have even fathomed the concept of televised Spring Games but this year we got Carolina's at noon then Clemson's at 4 on ESPNU. This is light years better than ESPN360 and very convenient for those who won't be able to make it to the game.

From what I saw and have heard, the game was about what you'd expect out of a Spring Game featuring a team that has to replace a lot of players. I was disappointed with the receiver play especially. When we had guys like Sammy and Nuk you didn't have to worry about them playing their asses off and working hard to be all around great players. Part of that effort involves perimeter blocking. Basically I believe we'll see a bunch of guys who don't care about blocking and won't be pressed to get any better. We haven't had a great wide receivers coach here since Stockstill and I obviously have concerns over how much success Jeff Scott will have motivating these guys to do the little things they have to do to make this team better. Perimeter blocking is very important and, sans Humphries who busts his ass every play of the game, I think I will be very frustrated watching this group block this year.

From what I saw, neither quarterback particularly wow'ed me yesterday though Cole Stoudt did what he needed to do to maintain the upper hand in the quarterback competition. Swag Kelly's turnovers marred his day and Stoudt was not bad but wasn't great either. I did not see the alleged confrontation between Chad Kelly and the coaching staff but understand Dan Brooks was involved. I will immediately take Brooks' side unless compelling evidence countering this emerges. Brooks is a damn good coach and Swag Kelly has behaved more like a reality television personality than starting quarterback. The fact that he sat the entire second half furthers my opinion that Kelly was in the wrong and needed to be reprimanded. Player insubordination is unacceptable. The Chad, Jeff Scott, (likely Brooks) and ultimately Dabo Swinney made the correct decision to bench Kelly. You cannot have your starting quarterback acting like a jackass when he doesn't agree with the coaching decisions. That point was made yesterday.

The rumor machine has already spit out lots of talk about Kelly transferring. We've said it here that we believe there is a very high probability he will transfer if he rides the bench this fall. Assuming Deshaun Watson's collarbone heals properly (and, yes we are very concerned anytime an issue like this arises--just look how well Will Korn's injury was handled) you have to believe that Kelly would remain the backup if he doesn't see the field in 2014. He definitely is talented and wants to play. Obviously, his outburst yesterday (along with the two interceptions) doesn't help the cause. We'll see how the fight for the starting quarterback role plays out this fall. Cole Stoudt appears to be leading the race but, like we've said all winter, Chad Morris will ensure that the competition will officially remain open until preparation for Georgia begins a couple weeks before the trip to Athens.

Now to the golf. We were able to attend the Drive, Chip, Putt championship last weekend at ANGC. I'll first say that the skill level of those kids was absolutely incredible. It is amazing how good these youngsters are and I'll say I'm glad I don't have to play against them on Saturday mornings as I'd probably be quickly embarrassed and asking for strokes. The course itself was absolutely incredible (as usual). The (as I still call it) new practice facility is world class and simply ridiculous. They opened the practice facility as well as the putting green near the clubhouse, 1 Tee area, 10 Tee area, 9 green complex, and 18 green complex around which patrons could observe. Several of the professionals came out to play practice rounds while we were there, most notably Freddy Couples. The smaller crowds, the standard ANGC excellence, and all the activities going on in this inaugural event shows how this golf club can take something as mundane as a practice contest and make it a world class event that is worth blocking off your schedule to see.

Of other interest to me is my Masters Pool. To better describe it, The Wagon started this thing up several years ago and it continues on through big tournaments to date. I had some success early on but it was The Wagon completing a "Wagon Slam" last year that really caused us all to step our respective games up. For those interested, a "Wagon Slam" involves boat-racing the field in all pools then laughing it off like it's no big thing. Needless to say, the rest of the field took the winter months to sharpen up their prognostication skills to avoid sending the check to the same address once again. Below are my picks. I'll let you know how this thing turns out next week. The two choices I struggled most with (Ryan Moore and Harris English in the third selection tier) did not make the cut so I'll need to work on that aspect of the selection process.

Adam Scott
Matt Kuchar
Bubba Watson
Jimmy Walker
Ryan Moore
Harris English
Fred Couples

After a fast start then lackluster performance yesterday, I need guys like Adam Scott and Bubba Watson to outpace Jordan Spieth and Rickey Fowler. Sunday at Augusta is a high pressure environment so it will be interesting to see how Spieth holds up today.

I will say that I was deeply disappointed by an article written on SBNation earlier this week. The article featured a caddy who needed to wear sandles instead of athletic shoes. It sucks that the guy has issues with his footwear, but the best aspect of the Augusta National is that they have rules and expectations and no one (including Five-Star General and United States President Eisenhower) is exempt from those rules. The members and chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club assess rules and enforce them across the board. Because they adhere to their own rules, the process may appear brutal at times but it is always fair. It is fair because there's a set of rules and the rules will be enforced as described. If a rule is not appropriate, it will be addressed and adjusted and the new rule will be applied as dictated. You cannot ask for anything more fair and admirable.

Clemson baseball has been up and down the past week. The Tigers split the first two games in Virginia and look to take the series today against the #2 ranked Wahoos. It is never too early to start talking about playoff baseball, and taking the series on the road against UVa definitely wouldn't hurt the resume. Clemson hosts Coastal mid-week then heads up to Pitt for next weekend's series.

That's about all I got. Enjoy the Spring weather and major championship golf while digesting Spring Football results.