Monday practice report: Swinney wants second units to get better

by - Senior Writer -
Swinney wants to see his Tigers build depth along the offensive line

CLEMSON – The Clemson coaching staff had a chance to look at the game tape of Saturday’s scrimmage in Death Valley, and head coach Dabo Swinney said there were really no surprises other than the fact that his second units have to get better.

“It’s about like we thought,” Swinney said. “First of all, both first groups have a chance to be pretty good, and both units did some good things. What we have to work on is getting the backups up to speed and close the gap.”

However, Swinney pointed out that the defensive groups were much closer than the offensive groups.

“Defensively, we’ve got some backups that are a lot closer to the ones,” he said. “There is not near as much drop-off as there is offensively. Offensively it's more due to inexperience as opposed to ability or talent. We've got guys over there capable of closing the gap, but we just have to keep teaching them."

Following practice, the offense was kept on the field later than the defense, and Swinney said there some discipline issues [“just football stuff” is how he characterized it] that needed to be addressed, but he said that the tempo of the practice was good as the team put in the next round of installations.

“We had to catch up on some things we put on the shelf last week,” Swinney said. “I am really proud of this group, we just gotta continue to buy into having that toughness. There is no substitute for great effort, toughness and dependability, and that is what we tell them, and that is what we are trying to achieve.”

Other notes from Monday’s practice:

*Swinney said MIKE linebacker Corico Hawkins, who has slipped into the early lead as the starter, has taken advantage of his chance as last year’s starter, Brandon Maye, continues to try and come back from the leg injury that caused him to miss most of the Music City Bowl. Swinney said that Hawkins’ ability to pick up the defense has helped his cause. "He just understands calls and can make them," Swinney said. "He’s gotten everyone lined up and he's communicating. He's getting the calls. He just gets it. That's what you need at that position."

*Maye has actually been spending time at the WILL spot, behind Tig Willard, and Swinney said that Willard is another name that keeps coming up when the coaches talk. “The guy I'm really excited about is Tig Willard,” he said. “He's having an excellent spring. He's not making a lot of mistakes. He doesn't miss a lot of tackles."

*Senior linebacker Scotty Cooper did not participate in Saturday’s scrimmage and Swinney said that Cooper suffered a groin injury during practice last Friday. Swinney that x-rays have been taken and will be sent off tonight, and he said that the coaches hoped it is just a pulled groin and not a sports hernia.

*Swinney also said that the coaching staff moved redshirt freshman Darrell Smith from defensive end to tight end last week as they try to build depth behind Dwayne Allen at the position. Smith played tight end in high school in Alabama, and Swinney said he was pleased with what he’s seen of Smith to this point. "What we saw of him in the paw drills, he's explosive in his hips and is very strong. It looks like a much more natural position for him. He's got a chance to help us there."

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