Spring Practice Report: Tigers Hoping To Improve Little By Little


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - As Clemson's spring football practice reaches its halfway point this week, head coach Tommy Bowden's constant theme remains the same.

Improvement.

For the younger players, it's a matter of mastering scheme and terminology. For the veterans, it's avoiding errors and mistakes in assignments. It's the little things, sometimes, which make the difference between a good team and a great team.

Need proof?

Clemson's four losses in 2005 were by a combined 14 points. Two were in overtime. The others came down to the game's final moments.

A block here, a tackle there, pick up an assignment over there...

You get the idea.

“The excitement from a coaching perspective is if we can get those guys to make improvement," Bowden said after Monday's workout. "And it’s not like a lot of improvement because we were close in the four games we lost. We can get better.”

While much of the early spring buzz centered around fifth-year senior quarterback Will Proctor and how he fits into the Clemson offense, Bowden has quietly focused on the other side of the ball.

Clemson's defense, under first year defensive coordinator Vic Koening a year ago, started slowly but made tremendous strides as the season wore on.

Now, Bowden said, the trick is to keep that momentum heading in the right direction and get even better by the time fall camp rolls around.

“That offensive line and those skilled guys will win games, but it’s the defensive line that helps you win championships; and the objective of the game is to win championships,” he said. “Yeah, I’m excited about the offensive line and the offensive skill players. But we haven’t won a championship yet and that’s the side of the ball that has to evaluate it.

You can help on offense by running the ball and keeping (the defense) off the field and all that, but I’m more excited about the talent level defensively we have.”

In other news Monday:

- Bowden addressed possible changes to his offensive and defensive schemes.

“Sure we are going to do some things from an offensive standpoint and defensive standpoint a little bit different,” he said. “We go out and study the pros and the cons, but we made good enough progress on both sides of the ball to say ‘hey the major parts of those systems are in place’. We feel like they are productive enough.

“Now if we can individually improve then I think we will be closer to where we need to go.”

- He continued to rave about freshman wide receiver Jacoby Ford, especially after last Saturday's scrimmage.

“The first time in the offense and being in that position as a wide receiver you have your assignments going through your head before the snap, coverages, conversions, and all of sudden the ball is on you,” Bowden said. “So there is a lot on a young guy like that, and to get the catches that he did that was very impressive…

"I think he is really going to be a good football player.”

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