|Tigers ready to strap on the pads|
|by Nikki Steele - Staff Writer - Tuesday, August 6, 2013 8:46 PM||
CLEMSON- The Clemson Tigers will finally strap on the pads for the first time in over three months when they take the practice field Wednesday evening, and there is nobody happier than Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
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Swinney said after Tuesday’s practice that his team has practiced very well through the first four days of fall camp; however, he is eager to see how his players compete when the pads come on.
“That’s day four in the books. We’ll get the full gear on tomorrow and get started with that,” Swinney said Tuesday evening outside the indoor practice facility. “I think we’ve had an excellent start through these first four practices. These guys, you can tell that they are a little bit more of a veteran football team, they aren’t afraid of work. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re a long ways away from where we need to be. If they continue to bring the kind of effort that we’ve had these first four days then I think we can really come out of this camp feeling good about our football team. We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Several players, including freshmen Mike Williams and Mackensie Alexander and veteran receiver Adam Humphries have been sidelined with injuries; however, Swinney said that he is hopeful that they will be back on Wednesday.
“We’ve got a few guys kind of dinged up. Hopefully we’ll get them back tomorrow. I’m anxious to get into a little more competitive work,” Swinney said. “It’s one of those deals. You coach the guys that are out there. We know those guys can play. They’ve got to get well. Mike had a great couple of days, but he just kind of went up and kind of came down awkwardly and tweaked his groin a little bit. We hope to get him back tomorrow. Same thing with Adam Humphries- he tweaked his hamstring early in the second practice. Hope to get him back tomorrow. Mackensie, I hope to see where he his tomorrow. He’s nursing a sore groin too. Hopefully we’ll get him back out there soon. They are all getting installation and all catching on pretty good mentally. The biggest thing is for them to get healthy so they can go compete.”
On the progress of the freshmen
“I really want to see them scrimmage to see what’s sticking. We can get off the field and really see their reaction and playing ball, it’s not as much situational stuff. This is a really good freshman class from top to bottom. I really think we hit on all of these guys. Even our walk-ons that we brought in are impressive guys. I like all of them. They are serious about it. Their demeanor is excellent. We’ve got a good combination of skill.”
On Tony Steward’s health
“It’s the first time in a long time that he’s been able to feel like he can fully go. That was what was so big for him last year. He didn’t get a senior year. We really felt like by middle of the year that he was getting his wings and takeoff and then he tore the other knee. He missed all season, all spring and was battling back during the spring. He basically missed two seasons and two spring trainings. This past season for him, to be able to finish the season and continue to work and build the foundation from a strength standpoint and get his explosiveness and his lower body strength, was big. He learned a lot and then to have his first offseason has been big for him. It’s the first time that he really has that confident look in his eye. He had a great summer. He ran a 4.62 last summer. All of his numbers are way up. He’s probably the second fastest linebacker that we have. He and Stephone Anthony are probably the fastest two linebackers that we have.”
On the linebacker corps
“Between Tony, Stephone, Quandon Christian and Spencer Shuey, we feel like we’ve got four starters. Tony can play MIKE or WILL. Stephone will play MIKE or WILL and Shuey can play MIKE or WILL. We are leaving Stephone where he is and cross-training Shuey and Kellen Jones.”
“Did they announce GameDay today? Wow. Shocking! That is great. Any time you can get great exposure for your brand, for your university, that is great. It’s good for these guys to get recognized for the work that they have put in. It is going to be a big game, obviously. But it’s good exposure and any time you can put that paw on national television, it is good.”
On Quandon Christian
“He just needs to finish more plays this year. Everybody likes Quandon. He is a good football player, and he doesn’t get near the credit he deserves. But he needs to get technically better, and he needs to finish plays. He isn’t the finisher at times we need him to be. His weight is good right now, and he is a smart, instinctive player. He plays that SAM backer position and he is one of the few guys that can go in and play SAM against regular personnel and then again in the nickel. We just need him to finish a little bit better.”
On the kicking game and Chandler Catanzaro
“We have a fourth-year starter back at kicker, and he is a proven guy. But we have to challenge him, and we did that today. Clemson-Georgia, two seconds left in the game, in the Valley, win or lose right now and he nailed it. And having Ammon Lakip back has been great. He has been great and has a big leg and it’s good to create competition out there. Having Pinion – the experience he got last year was priceless. He is a guy that Clemson fans are going to love watching him the next three years.
“He has to be on the field. He has had a great four days. He is getting to play in the first game and that helps. He just needs to be stay healthy and he will be fine.”
On Daniel Rodriguez
“It’s amazing the improvement he has made since last year. Talk about a guy that takes what he has and maximizes it. He has gotten a lot of work because Adam has been out. He is a tough little player. He is not a zero. He is a solid little guy and has made a ton of plays these first four days. He has made some really good plays. He is greatly improved from where he was last year. You love to see guys get rewarded. He just had a lot to learn and a lot of developing to do.”
On the return game
“G-Hop (Germone Hopper) is a guy that we don’t really trust right now, but he is coming on. And that first game is not one where you want guys out there trying to figure it out. T.J. Green is a guy that we signed as a kick returner and he is a guy that we will continue to look at. We will get into more special teams stuff next week.”
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