Monday morning practice nuggets

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Members of the media were allowed to watch a little over forty minutes of practice Monday morning, and while I wish I could tell you we were allowed to watch something other than drills, like a scrimmage situation, it was just more drills.

And while you can’t tell a lot from just drills, because they are, after all, just drills, here are a few nuggets gleaned from the time spent out on the practice fields behind Jervey.

*Watched the quarterbacks throw for several minutes, and particularly focused in on Tajh Boyd as he ran through all kinds of passes, from quick slants, to out routes across the field, to fades in the end zone, and it’s obvious just how accurate of a passer he is. He shows nice touch on passes that need touch, and he has good zip on the ball when he has to make strong throws. He stands tall in the pocket, and delivers a nice ball.

He already looks different from the freshman of last season, and looks more poised than he did in the spring. Granted, it’s just practice, and the real test comes when he faces a live rush, but it’s readily apparent that he has all of the tools to be a good college quarterback.

*Watched more of the special teams, and the feeling I get from watching all of the different returners try their hand [literally] at returning punts, it looks to me like Marcus Gilchrist would be the main guy at this point. He has great hands, and it was interesting watching Gilchrist and DeAndre McDaniel working together when the team had two returners waiting on the punt.

*Three NFL scouts were at practice this morning – one from the Seattle Seahawks, one from the Detroit Lions and one from the Carolina Panthers. As one of them told me – they already know about these kids and their abilities. They want to watch them interact with their teammates and coaches, check out their body language at a Monday morning practice, and generally get a feel for what kind of practice player they are.

*Watched the receivers for a good bit as well, and there were far fewer drops today than we’ve seen at some of the other practices. Jaron Brown looks smooth running his routes, and caught everything I saw thrown his way. I know the coaches are high on Brown, and he could be one of those guys that steps up and makes an impact this season.

Offensive coordinator Billy Napier stepped during one drill, and watched as one receiver dropped a pass, and apparently Napier thought the receiver’s body language showed that it was a tough catch to make, so Napier made him do it again, and this time the pass was caught. Napier said, “See, would have made that last catch if you wouldn’t have been making excuses.”

*Defensive end Da’Quan Bowers was not a practice today, and we’ll try and get a feel from head coach Dabo Swinney after practice today on when he expects Bowers back.

*Freshman wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was in a yellow jersey today and didn’t take part in drills. Once again, don’t know if he is injured or if it was precautionary, but he looked fine as he tossed a football with a teammate, so we’ll try and find that out from Dabo as well.

*And finally, on the humorous side, I love watching defensive ends coach Chris Rumph during a practice, and today he was running a fumble drill with each of the defensive units. In the drill, the player faces Rumph, and he rolls the football end over end toward them, and they have to pick it up, tuck it away, and run with it. Rumph chided defensive end Kourtnei Brown on one toss, telling him to bend his knees and scoop it up, and then told Brown, who attended Victory Christian School in Charlotte, “Come on, man. Bend your knees. I know they played baseball at VCC.”

Two players later, defensive tackle Tyler Shatley made a clean scoop and then forgot to toss the football back to Rumph. Rumph turned to Shatley, and said “Man, that isn’t your ball you can take home just because you didn’t get picked to play today. You gotta give it back to me.”

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