PAW drills highlight start of full pads practice

by - Senior Writer -
Freshman RB Wayne Gallman busts through the line for a touchdown in the PAW drill. (TigerNet Staff)

CLEMSON – The first part of Wednesday’s practice session would get the blood pumping of even the most casual of fans.

The Tigers – forced indoors because of the torrential rains – began the session with the PAW drill, and the amount of energy and the physical nature of the drill were highly evident.

During the drill, a quarterback hands the ball off to a running back, and three offensive linemen try to clear a hole against three defensive players. Once the initial rush began to subside, head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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jumped into the fray and berated his players for a lack of intensity.

“Is that how you want to start your season? You are soft!” Swinney screamed at the defense after freshman running back Tyshon Dye took it up the middle almost untouched against what was called the “bruiser group” of Grady Jarrett, Josh Watson and DeShawn Williams.

Following Dye’s explosion through the hole, the entire offense jumped and followed Dye to give him a pat on the back, but Swinney broke it up to make them run the play again. Incidentally, the offensive line in place at the time was made up of Reid Webster, Jay Guillermo and Patrick DeStefano. DeStefano and Guillermo and Webster were just mowing people over during their part of the session.

*Dye looks like the real deal. During the PAW drill, he not only had the one big burst that showed better quickness than I thought he had, but he also had a couple of runs where he lowered his head and just ran people over. If he learns the playbook and can earn the trust of offensive coordinator Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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, he could be a major factor this season.

*The defense lost the first PAW drill session, but defensive tackle D.J. Reader wasn’t one of the losers. Reader absolutely mauled the running back on three different plays when he was on the field.

*Freshman defensive tackle Scott Pagano certainly looks the part of big-time tackle, and it was good to see that he not only enjoyed the physical nature of the drill, but looked like he actually embraced it.

*Defensive end Tavares Barnes looks like a changed man since spring practice. One coach told me that Barnes was about to eat his way into becoming a 3-technique before the spring, but he looks like he has added muscle while losing weight. He showed a great burst during the drills.

*Former Daniel product Shaq Lawson catches my eye every time we are allowed to watch practice. I know a lot of people were disappointed because of the NCAA’s ruling last season, but it’s obvious that going to Hargrave allowed Lawson to get bigger, stronger and ready mentally for the rigors of this season. I am hearing he is going to be a part of the rotation at defensive end.

*Dye wasn’t the only running back to impress during the drills – fellow freshman Wayne Gallman showed he isn’t afraid of contact, and Zac Brooks lowered his head and moved the pile a few times.

*Sammy Watkins. I hesitate to say that Sammy is “back” after last season, but he looks stronger and thicker than at any point during his Clemson career. And during special teams drills, he drew plenty of attention by showing off a burst that we simply didn’t see last season.

During the games in 2012, I remarked more than once in the press box during games that Watkins simply lacked that extra little burst that he had as a freshman. It has been back during the first few practices.

He fielded one punt – looking more comfortable than he was at any point in his first two years – and showed the burst and quickness we saw when he was a freshman, A healthy and determined Watkins will help out quarterback Tajh Boyd in more ways than one.

*I know it’s early, but tight end Sam Cooper (ACL surgery) was jogging around the inside of the facility while his teammates practiced. He was jogging without a limp, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him be ready to play at some point this season. Whether that happens or not is still a decision that is a long way away, however.

*We were able to watch defensive backs run through some of their drills, and Mackensie Alexander jumps out at you with his intensity. It looks like he takes every play personally, and wants to win every drill. One person who is in attendance at most practices said that Alexander has proven to be a lockdown corner during the early practices, and Boyd told the media Tuesday night that has already noticed that it’s difficult to throw to Alexander’s side when the offense faces the defense.

*Daniel running back and 2014 Clemson commit Jae’lon Oglesby was at Clemson’s practice with two of his Daniel coaches. The Lions, who begin scrimmaging this weekend, have already started practicing for the season and one of the coaches told me that Oglesby was recently timed at 4.39 (unofficially) in the 40-yard dash.


Date: August 7, 2013

Practice number: 5

Duration: 21 five minute periods

Location: Indoor practice facility

Dress code: Full pads

Yellow jerseys: Martavis Bryant, Adam Humphries, Mike Williams, Chad Kelly, Sam Cooper, Garry Peters, Wes Forbush, Jadar Johnson.

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