Key questions for Swinney's media golf outing


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Tanner Muse will play a bigger role this season
Tanner Muse will play a bigger role this season

Later this morning, Clemson’s entire coaching staff and the media will meet at The Reserve at Lake Keowee to talk about the upcoming season. While the ACC Football Kickoff usually signals the start of the college football season, head coach Dabo Swinney’s media golf outing is the true start for both the coaches and media.

Swinney spent most of the Kickoff talking about last year’s team and last year’s players, and when we gathered at his home late Monday for the annual media supper, Swinney mentioned that no one asked him about Mitch Hyatt, Deon Cain, Kendall Joseph and the other players that will be the bedrock of the 2017 squad.

That all changes today. We get to talk – for the first and only time (unless they make the playoff) this season – with each member of the coaching staff. We get to break down each of the position groups and look ahead to the season.

This time of year is always exciting to me. A new season is like a new gift under the Christmas tree. You don’t know what to expect, but you know that something special is about to happen and you feel that tingle of excitement as you ponder the possibilities.

Will there be another close game against Louisville? Can we match the magic of a win over Notre Dame in a driving rainstorm? Will there be another Pitt-like heartache? Will the rivalry game once again be lopsided?

We don’t know the answers to any of those questions, but we will get to ask some of the questions we’ve been waiting all summer to ask. Here are a few:

QB coach Brandon Streeter

We will get a breakdown of each quarterback, and what he is looking for each from each player. Does he see any one player with an edge? What would freshman Hunter Johnson have to do to win the job? Can Chase Brice jump into the mix? Why was Tucker Israel not on the three-deep?

Running backs coach Tony Elliott (and co-offensive coordinator)

Hopefully Elliott can give us a recap of how each running back fared in summer workouts. This is a big summer and fall camp for Tavien Feaster. Can he unseat C.J. Fuller?

Wide receivers coach Jeff Scott (and co-offensive coordinator)

Scott has a stable of talented wide receivers. My big question for Scott will center around where T.J. Chase, Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers fit into this season’s plans.

Tight ends coach Danny Pearman

Our plan is to get a breakdown on each of the tight ends, as well as check in on the progress of Garrett Williams, who injured his knee in the spring. Pearman has to replace all of the production of Jordan Leggett, and it might be a tight end by committee to start the season. Pearman also coaches some of the special teams units.

Offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell

This might be Caldwell’s best group, but it will be interesting to see where he sees Tremayne Anchrum, Sean Pollard and John Simpson settling in. We’ve also heard great things about Gage Cervenka over the summer, and we will ask if Cervenka has a chance to start at center.

Defensive line coach Todd Bates

It will be fun to see how he feels about making the step from Jacksonville St. to coaching what might be the nation’s best defensive line group. However, with the loss of Richard Yeargin there are concerns about depth, and we’ll ask about who he sees stepping in to fill the void.

Linebackers coach and defensive coordinator Brent Venables

This might be Venables deepest linebacker group, and I am anxious to see where he thinks everyone fits in. He has a lot of talent that might not get a lot of snaps, especially with six or seven guys that might start at a lot of other places.

Secondary coach Mike Reed and safeties coach Mickey Conn

This group will be under the most scrutiny, and we’ll go over the post-spring depth chart with Reed to see who gets the first and best shot at playing corner. Replacing Cordrea Tankersley will be a task, but Reed has plenty of talent to choose from. For Conn, he has to replace safety Jadar Johnson, and while we’ve heard great things about Tanner Muse we’ve also heard great things about Isaiah Simmons.


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