Friday practice report: Swinney looking for depth on offensive line

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CLEMSON – The loss of guard Wilson Norris, who tore his ACL in Wednesday’s practice and will require surgery, leaves the Clemson coaching staff scrambling to find depth at a usually slim position, and Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday night the talent is on hand – it will just take time to get them game-ready.

“I do feel really good about the first five,” Swinney said after Friday’s practice. “I feel very good about that first group, and we had Mason Cloy back in a green jersey and he did a little team work today. He started a year-and-a-half for us. Those six we can line up and play with.

“Then we have a guy like Ben Ramsey – I am confident in him as far as knowing what to do, but he has been injured a little bit, and we need to get him back. Wilson was a veteran guy, and this puts more pressure on Brandon Thomas, Tyler Fowler and Phillip Price. And then we have Kalon Davis that can do some things. We are putting a lot of pressure on those guys, and right now they are not there yet.”

Swinney said that he put two of those players with the first group in Wednesday’s half-scrimmage, and he thinks that tactic helped.

“Phillip Price and Brandon Thompson did some good things in Wednesday’s scrimmage,” Swinney said. “We put them up with the first group, which helped them. I feel like Phillip Price can be a factor, and I can say the same thing about Brandon, but he has a little ways to do.”

Swinney said that he was looking for more of a “blue collar” approach from his team when they scrimmage Saturday morning in Death Valley. The scrimmage is closed to the public, but is part of Youth Day activities.

“I just want to see a bunch of blue collar guys who play hard and don’t beat themselves,” Swinney said. “We have been working really hard on that this spring, and hopefully we will see that tomorrow. We will have Kyle [Parker] in the morning, so he will get some scrimmage work, and Tajh [Boyd] will get the two’s.

“In this scrimmage, I want to see guys taking care of the football. No stupid penalties. I am also ready to see the second-tier group execute better. I don’t want first-team or second-team guys. I just want players. Just guys that take pride in doing their job. We have some guys that need to pick it up a little bit.”

Swinney said he has pleased with Boyd’s evolution as the spring has progressed.

“Tajh? He is coming. He is coming,” Swinney said. “We have just kind of thrown everything at the wall to see what sticks with him. Some of it has stuck and some of it hasn’t. The stuff that hasn’t, we’ve just kind of picked it up and thrown it up there again. It’s a repetitive process, and we’ll keep doing that until we get it on there. But he is on schedule.”

Swinney said that he was pleased with the team’s effort in Friday’s scaled-back practice.

“It was a good practice,” he said. “We cut them back two periods, because we are going to get started early in the morning. We have 7:30 [a.m.] meetings, and we want to have a good, fresh day. One of the things we did today was put the ball on the [offense’s] 1-yard line.

”We worked on trying to create some room for the offense, where you can punt it, and if you’re the defense you’re trying to pin them. I was a little disappointed in that we did have an offsides on defense. And then we had a dropped snap on offense and the defense got a safety off of it. It was not near as crisp as I would like to see it. But it was a good day, good tempo.”

Youth Day Saturday at Death Valley

The Clemson football program will play host to “Youth Day” on Saturday at Death Valley. All first through sixth graders are invited to attend the team’s practice and scrimmage Saturday morning. Check-in will begin at 10:00 AM and all children and their parents are asked to enter at the West Endzone gate at Clemson Memorial Stadium.

All kids in attendance will be able to tour the new WestZone facilities, watch the Clemson Tigers scrimmage, meet players and coaches, run down the hill and enjoy a highlight video from the 2009 season. Pizza and drinks will be provided for the kids for free.

A presentation will also be made about summer youth football camps.

This day is completely free and no pre-registration is needed. For more information on Tiger Youth Day, visit the camp website ( .

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