Monday night update: McCloud looking good, quarterback battle shaping up
|Monday, March 6, 2017, 9:26 PM- -|
CLEMSON – The first four practices of the spring are in the books, and all eyes are on Clemson’s quarterback situation where Kelly Bryant, Tucker Israel, Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson are all vying for a starting spot.
Four practices in and Bryant is still the leader.
“We are off and running. We have four practices under our belt. All of them are doing a good job and competing,” head coach Dabo Swinney said after Monday’s practice. “I am really pleased with the young guys. I am really pleased with Kelly after four days. He should be out in front - he knows more, and he has more experience. He should, and he has, and I am very pleased with that. We are building towards our first situational scrimmage Wednesday and then next Wednesday will be our main scrimmage.
“I am really pleased with Zerrick. You can tell he put a lot of work in during the fall. And then Hunter is very gifted and is getting it, but he's a guy that just got here, and he's still processing things. Tucker has a good understanding of what to do and he just needs to maximize his opportunities. But we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.”
Swinney said that practice has been smooth, something he credits to playing so deep in January.
“We have a lot of experience. The retention is amazing. We have a lot of guys who have played,” he said. “But again, we were only on the field seven weeks ago or so. It hasn't been that long, and it's shown. And we were able to rep a lot of our young guys in bowl prep, and that was priceless. We just had our first accountability run tonight, and nobody had to run. Last year was the first time I've ever had that. I've always had a team that someone had to run gassers because someone wasn't pulling their weight. We are a junior-sophomore team. This year we only have seven scholarship seniors. I think we are up and running and I am very pleased.
“The defense is way ahead of where we were this time last year. Offensively, we have some developing to do with our skill guys. We are very confident in the guys up front. We are going to be very, very good in the trenches. But you have to bring your hard hat every day, or you will get exposed.”
Gage Cervenka at center
“I think he is competing every day. He has never had a spring (at center). You forget we didn't move him until fall camp. So he hasn't had any reps as an offensive lineman, and then he took to it naturally when we did move him in the fall. He got in some games, got on some tape and learned a lot. He had great JV practices. He is doing really good.”
“That kid is a football player. That is a guy who will strike you. He has some explosiveness to him. We are exposing him to some things he hasn't done but if you stick his hand in the ground and tell him to go get the quarterback he can do it.”
“That's an elite group. I like how Brent (Venables) is managing them right now. Take Kendall (Joseph) - he is playing WILL, and he is playing MIKE. We are moving guys all over. Dorian (O'Daniel) is staying out there at the SAM. We are challenging those guys, trying to cross-train them so that we can find the best four.”
Surprise of camp
“I am most pleased with Ray-Ray (McCloud) offensively. It's like the light has come on for him a little bit as far as his work ethic and practice efforts. Love, love, love what I am seeing out of Ray-Ray.”
“Chase (T.J. Chase) is still coming. He has some tools. He is still a developing guy. He is sneaky quick. Diondre (Overton) has it all there, but we are trying to put it together. We have to get him out of his comfort zone and try to make him beat Deon out. He has another level to get to.”
“If I didn't see them, at least I got the feedback on them. I got a lot of feedback on our guys, and I am really proud of them. They represented well. I was very pleased with the feedback we got on those guys.”