College Football is Back! The 2019 season starts this week, and we couldn't be happier
|Monday, July 15, 2019 8:13 AM- -|
Hello, college football. We missed you.
Yes, it’s still six weeks until the season kicks off for real under a twilight sky in Death Valley, but the quiet portion of the summer is over. We haven’t spoken to the coordinators since early April (for some reason, we weren’t given availability after the spring game) and haven’t spoken with head coach Dabo Swinney since May.
That all ends this week. Tuesday to be exact.
Select members of the media will meet at Swinney’s house tonight for the annual media meal. This informal get-together is always the kickoff to the season for us. Sorry – anything said there is off the record and can’t be repeated, but one day the book will be a bestseller. I’m kidding. Sort of.
Swinney’s annual media golf outing – usually held at The Reserve at Lake Keowee – is no more. At least for now. The rise of digital means that fewer and fewer media members played golf, so the outing has been moved to the football operations center (where the Wi-Fi will be much, much, better) and starts at 7:30 am Tuesday morning with breakfast.
This is the one time of year when we get all of the coaches and hopefully obtain enough material to last until practice, which starts on August 2nd.
Wednesday and Thursday are the ACC Kickoff in Charlotte. The Atlantic Division goes on Wednesday this year with the defending champs going later in the afternoon. We do have the Commissioner’s Forum early that morning, and that should give us all the latest and greatest news ahead of the launch of the ACC Network.
Back to Swinney – he will address the media for the first time this season at 12:15 Tuesday. There are several questions we want and will ask, but there are a few that top the list.
*Defensive tackles Nyles Pinckney and Jordan Williams missed spring practice with injuries, and both will be asked to be the leaders in the middle of the defense this season. Are both healthy enough to practice? Are they fully recovered or will they start practice in a yellow or green jersey? The health of those two is important to Brent Venables’ young defense.
*Is he comfortable with what he has at tight end? Since the last time we spoke to him, we learned that Braden Galloway will have to miss the season after being suspended for a trace amount of ostarine.
Galloway played in 12 games and had five receptions for 52 yards, including a touchdown, as a freshman last season. He also added four receptions for 33 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown reception, during the spring game in April.
The only other player with any experience is J.C. Chalk, a 6-3, 260-pound junior who had two receptions for 21 yards in 2018. Other tight ends on the roster include Cole Renfrow, a junior who’s the younger brother of former Clemson wide receiver Hunter Renfrow; sophomore Luke Price; and senior J.L. Banks.
Freshman Jaelyn Lay enrolled last January and took a big step forward in his development this spring. Lay has all the physical tools to be dominant but is far from a finished product. Davis Allen enrolled in June and will take part in fall practice.
*Wide receiver Amari Rodgers tore his ACL during the spring and many wondered if he would miss the season. According to what we’ve heard, Rodgers is way ahead of schedule. The Tigers obviously have depth at the wide receiver spot and there’s no need for Rodgers to rush his rehab, but he returned 39 punts last season and is the most experienced option in the punt return game. It will be interesting to see if Swinney has a timetable for his return.
*There are plenty of other questions – who has emerged as leaders over the summer, is he comfortable with his linebackers, punter and kicker, etc. – and they will all get asked this week. I like writing that – this week.
Football is back. Just in the nick of time.