News and notes from Friday's practice

by - Senior Writer -
News and notes from Friday's practice

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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told the media Friday that he doesn’t even look at which players are rotating in and out on the defensive line this spring, that the players are almost interchangeable and there isn’t much of a drop-off from one group to the next.

In other words, the defensive line is gaining depth.

"I don’t ever even look, to be honest with you,” Swinney said. “The guys up front – used to I would notice but I don’t even know who is in there. Every good team I have been on has had that situation where the guys in the trenches can just go play.

The defensive line is much further along right now than they were this time last year. Sometimes it can be a little hard to gauge because we are mixing and matching a lot of different guys and seeing different combinations. We are a long way away from being championship caliber, yet, but we are making progress. “

He said there are fewer questions with this year’s group.

"Last year, there were a lot of 'what ifs' but now, flash forward a year and they are all competing hard," he said. "It is a very unselfish group. It is a good situation. You have a chance to be successful when you can be that good in the defensive line."

*Swinney said that Isaiah BattleIsaiah Battle
Fr. Offensive Tackle
#79 6-6, 280
St. George, VA

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needs to have a sense of urgency if he wants to win the left tackle job.

"He has all the talent, but I will not say that I'm over the top pleased with him and his performance this spring. It is just inconsistent. It is really just about having the focus and drive every day to be the best and until he commits to that he is not ever going to be what he is capable of being. But at the end of the day the coaches are going to put the guys out there that give us the best chance to win.”

*Swinney said that Brandon ThomasBrandon Thomas
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#63 6-3, 305
Spartanburg, SC

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has been working up and down the offensive line as the coaches try and find the best five.

“We’ve mixed it up. He’s worked right tackle, left tackle and guard. He’s worked all of it this spring. He has had a good spring. I am really pleased with Brandon Thomas. He had a good 'W' drill today. He is another one of those guys that is kind of like Battle. In fact, Battle is much further along than Brandon Thomas was after his true freshman year. It is not even close.”

*I wrote about the new “W” drill in the observations piece earlier today, and Swinney explained.

"The Paw Drill is really just at the point of attack, just trying to defeat blocks and create a new line of scrimmage, get movement and toughness with the backs. The W drill is good because you still have that point of attack element with that first group and then you have a tight end or a guard climbing to a linebacker in space and then you have a receiver blocking a defensive back. It kind of gives you all of those elements. It is fast and it involves everybody. It is a good drill."

*He said the Tigers had a half-practice, half-scrimmage on Friday, and worked on the two-minute drill. For the record, the offense took it down the field and scored on the defense for a scrimmage-winning score.

"I thought the guys responded well from the last scrimmage to this scrimmage," Swinney said. "That's really what I was hoping to see. I wanted to see them improve a little bit when we went live again."

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