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The Boys Are Back In Town


  by - Senior Writer - Friday, August 1, 2014 8:18 AM
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It won't be long before Death Valley once again hears the roar of the crowd

The boys are back in town, and college football is finally back.

It’s been a whopping 210 days since the Clemson Tigers last played in a game that counted, and spring practice ended 110 days ago with the annual spring game. During those long stretches, we’ve talked recruiting and high school camps and talked ad nauseam about the quarterback battles, position groupings and how to beat Florida St. and South Carolina.

Thankfully, the time for talking has come to an end. Sometime Friday afternoon, the familiar sounds of fall practice will fill the air – the sounds of the cleats on concrete, the whistles during stretching, the blaring of the music during the first part of practice and offensive coordinator Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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screaming “tempo, tempo” at the top of his lungs.

Aaahhh football, we’ve missed you. No more trying to find things to talk and write about. No more guessing who is going to play where. No more downtime. And, in less than a month, the sights and sounds and smells of a college football gameday will once again fill the air.

The boys are, indeed, back in town, and as camp opens up on Friday there are several storylines that we will be watching. Here are a few.

Quarterbacks

Both offensive coordinator Chad Morris and head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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have said that Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
Fr. Quarterback
#4 6-3, 190
Gainesville, GA

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will play in the opener. But I’ve heard coaches say things like that before, and once the games begin coaches tend to err on the side of caution. With that in mind, how much of a push will Watson make during camp? Will he show enough in the scrimmages and force the coaches’ hands, pushing his way into playing time? How much and how soon Watson plays might be played out over the next three weeks.

Offensive line

Many people point to the secondary or special teams as areas of concerns when discussing this year’s team, but good teams win games in the trenches and the Tigers have more questions than answers on the offensive line heading into fall camp. Two potential starters – David BeasleyDavid Beasley
RS Sr. Offensive Guard
#68 6-4, 315
Columbus, GA

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and Shaq AnthonyShaq Anthony
RS Jr. Offensive Tackle
#76 6-3, 265
Williamston, SC

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– are suspended for the opener in Athens and the coaching staff will spend time during camp trying to find someone who can step in and play left guard and right tackle. Beyond those two – will Tyrone CrowderTyrone Crowder
RS Fr. Offensive Line
#55 6-2, 325
Marston, NC

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show enough to earn playing time? Can Eric Mac LainEric Mac Lain
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#78 6-3, 260
Hope Mills, NC

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push past his spring injury and solidify a hold on an interior position? We’ve heard about Joe GoreJoe Gore
RS Jr. Offensive Tackle
#73 6-4, 275
Lake Waccamaw, NC

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for a couple of years now, but he has played just 124 snaps over 12 games. Can he take over at right tackle? Will a lack of consistency at the guard spots force Ryan NortonRyan Norton
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#58 6-3, 270
Simpsonville, SC

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to move from center? Can Isaiah BattleIsaiah Battle
Jr. Offensive Tackle
#79 6-6, 280
Brooklyn, NY

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gain enough weight and be a legitimate option at left tackle? The next few weeks will be crucial for this group – you don’t need to have line issues when you’re breaking in a lot of new skill players.

Wide receivers

Charone PeakeCharone Peake
RS Jr. Wide Receiver
#19 6-3, 200
Moore, SC

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will miss the first week of spring practice, and now you have to wonder how effective he will be right out of the gate. Clemson quarterbacks have had the luxury over the past four seasons of knowing that they had a go-to guy in either Nuk Hopkins or Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Wide Receiver (2011 - 2013)
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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. The question now becomes, who will be that guy? Can Peake live up to his potential? Will Mike WilliamsMike Williams
So. Wide Receiver
#7 6-5, 205
Vance, SC

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take over that spot as Clemson’s clutch receiver? Or will one of the freshmen come in and become that guy? Hopkins and Watkins answered the bell during big games, and both had career games in their final Clemson games – Hopkins against LSU in Atlanta and Watkins against Ohio St. in Miami – and now it’s time for the next go-to guy to pick up the baton. Who will it be?

Cornerbacks

All eyes will be on MacKensie AlexanderMacKensie Alexander
RS Fr. Defensive Back
#2 5-11, 185
Immokalee, FL

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, but Cordrea TankersleyCordrea Tankersley
So. Defensive Back
#25 6-1, 190
Beech Island, SC

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had an outstanding spring and might just be the one to start opposite Alexander in Athens. Tankersley had just 21 snaps last season, but did have a team-high nine tackles on special teams. Back from injury is Martin JenkinsMartin Jenkins
RS Sr. Cornerback
#14 5-10, 180
Roswell, GA

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, and he will likely push both Tankersley and Alexander for playing time. Out for the game against Georgia is veteran Garry PetersGarry Peters
RS Sr. Cornerback
#26 6-0, 195
Conyers, GA

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, who will add depth once he serves his one game suspension.

There are other things we will be watching, and there will be plenty of time to catch up on all of that as we go through camp. For those who wonder what the camp schedule is, here are the dates they will practice:

August 1
August 2
August 4
August 5
August 6
August 7
August 8
August 9
August 11
August 12
August 13
August 14
August 15
August 16
August 17 –Fan Day
August 18
August 19
August 20 – First day of school, no practice

The 19th will probably be our last availability before the regular game week schedule begins the next Monday on August 25th. With that in mind, I want to throw a Clemson version of the “The Boys are Back in Town” as performed by our very own Hurricane Duane, who was kind enough to let me use this in the story.


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