CLEMSON - On the first full day of practice there are no positions to be won. Head to head competition for spots on the depth chart won't begin in earnest until the pads go on and the real hitting begins.
So for the astute college football coach, the first day is about detecting the subtle things - both from veterans and newcomers.
"You'd like to see them understand the tempo we want to practice at," Clemson's Tommy Bowden said after a three hour, 15-minute workout Saturday afternoon. "You want to practice as close to game tempo as you can. Right now the objective is not to be able to play after today's practice, but you want to start looking at alignment, assignment and game tempo."
Coaches also look for a player's ability to mentally grasp what's being thrown at them in the early stages of fall camp.
If an assistant coach chastises the player in front of you for making a mistake during a certain drill, Bowden said, don't immediately make the same mistake. The smoother the practice, the easier the preparation. Especially for the upper classmen.
And for the incoming freshmen?
"Absorb," said Bowden. "When they do get in, have they been paying attention?"
Bowden said most of the noticeable work Saturday came on punt protection drills.
Freshman Richard Jackson is taking all the first team snaps at punter for the moment while incumbent Cole Chason recovers from a foot injury. Chason's injury has given Jackson a leg up - so to speak - in the early competition for the spot.
But Bowden reminded the media gathered at the Jervey practice facility that the plan all along called for Jackson to push for the position.
"I said from day one he'd come in here and start with the first team," Bowden said. "Now, instead of splitting those first team snaps with Cole, he's getting them all himself."
Chason was one of three Tigers in yellow jerseys (no contact) on Saturday. Sergio Gilliam (knee) and Jamarcus Grant (broken foot) were the other two.
Sunday's practice is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. and is closed to the public.