|Swinney says defense now tackling in practice|
|by David Hood - Senior Writer - Wednesday, October 3, 2012 7:45 PM||
CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
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Clemson’s defense has struggled with tackling for a few years now, and many have wondered when the Tigers would go away from the ‘thud’ and actually simulate live game action. The answer – last Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was repeated this week.
Thud tackling is where the defender simply wraps up the ball carrier, but both players stay on their feet. Starting last week, Swinney allowed the defenders to take the offensive players to the ground.
“I would say I probably made a mistake,” Swinney said. “Ninety-nine percent of college teams and 100 percent of NFL teams don’t go live during the season. You are full-speed, but you thud people up and stay on your feet. Last year, we had a bunch of veteran guys that knew how to play the game up front on both sides. This year, I felt like the only way we were going to get better was to simulate the game speed in practice and to just go live and tackle to the ground and try to fix some of our problems.
“And create some confidence – I thought we had a confidence problem as far as finishing some plays. Not treating them like a veteran group, which they aren’t. At some point, you have to realize there are some diminishing returns with that. I felt that with last week and with the open date coming up, we would hold our breath and go through it. We have improved, and I definitely think it helped us last week. I don’t think there is any question about it – I think we tackled better.”
Swinney says he wishes he had made the decision to tackle sooner, even though the Tigers will likely scale back on live tackling drills in coming weeks.
“If I had been a little smarter, we would have done it earlier,” he said. “But, better late than never. And we’ve been lucky, and nobody has gotten hurt. If you go out there and get a great player hurt, you beat yourself up on that. But I felt like we needed to take that risk and let them see that game-speed on the practice field. They have been engaged this week and it has been good.”
*Swinney said he was also pleased to hear the ACC’s announcement that the conference would not move to nine conference games next season.“I think this is great for us and great for our conference,” Swinney said. “With our continued rivalry with South Carolina as an annual non-conference game, and Notre Dame playing each ACC school twice in a six-year period, it was going to be difficult to keep the door open to play two-game series like we have had recently with Auburn and will have next year with Georgia.
“This will also give us flexibility in our schedule and to have seven home games going forward. That is very important for our community from an economic standpoint as well. I am glad we will continue to play eight conference games a year.”
*The Tigers are fairly healthy, but running back D.J. HowardD.J. Howard
RS So. Running Back
#22 5-11, 195
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#55 6-5, 265
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*He said he still hasn’t made a decision on who will handle kickoffs. “We have another day tomorrow, but we will run one of them out there.”
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