Spot the ball: Head coaches, rosters set for spring game


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Tony Elliott and Danny Pearman will be the two head coaches on Saturday
Tony Elliott and Danny Pearman will be the two head coaches on Saturday

CLEMSON – The rosters are set, two new head coaches are in place and the final act of the spring will take place Saturday when Clemson holds its annual Orange & White Game.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney met with the media Thursday afternoon in the Reeves Football Complex and said that all of the pieces are in place for Saturday’s spring game.

Danny Pearman and Tony Elliott are the two head coaches,” Swinney said Thursday. “They have no idea who they're going to get. They don't even know who the staffs are until today. We split the team yesterday. They have to split it evenly because they don't know who they're going to get. We had the coin toss today. Tony Elliott won the toss. He has a choice and he can choose either offense or either defense. It was his choice.

“They knew how the team was divided yesterday. They had 24 hours to think about it. I told them who the head coaches were going to be yesterday, but nobody else knew who was going to be where. He chose the defense, so the next group gets the other defensive group. Then the other head coach gets the first pick of the offense. That's how we do it. Then we flip again for who is going to be orange and who's going to be the white team.”

While the act of choosing a roster may not seem controversial, the players take notice when the coach doesn’t pick them.

“I love to tell the players that Tony didn't pick their team,” Swinney said. “It always spices it up. He didn't pick Christian Wilkins' team and Christian isn't very happy about that. He chose defense, so I don't know what that says.”

The quarterback competition has been the focus of spring practice and Saturday will be another step in the process as all four quarterback will be live.

“They are going to be live. That's something we've talked about and really wanted to do,” he said. “That's how we're going to do it and see how it plays out. Kelly (Bryant) and Tucker (Israel) are on one team and Zerrick (Cooper) and Hunter (Johnson) are on another team, pending Kelly kind of tweaked his hamstring the other day. If he can go, that's how we'll roll. He practiced today, so hopefully he'll be able to go, but if some reason he can't go or he tweaks it again then we'll move Hunter over and swing Tucker back and forth so they can get the reps.”

There is also one final transaction still left to finalize the roster.

“We've got the teams split up. We've got one pending trade,” he said. “It's depending on if Kendall Joseph can go. He suffered a mid-foot sprain yesterday. He might be able but not sure. If he can't we'll have to trade (Jamie) Skalski. As of today, Skalski practiced with his team so he might have some insider information if he gets traded over before the deadline tomorrow night.”

Swinney hopes to have a crowd of 70,000-plus in attendance as the Tigers wind down spring practice.

“We've got a good plan. I think it's going to be a very competitive game. I'm hopeful we get a huge crowd,” he said. “I think it's going to be beautiful weather. It's been a while since we've played football. I'm excited to get this bunch out there. They've worked hard this spring. We've got a lot accomplished. We're not ready to play. We've got a few guys that could go play, but we're not ready as a team.

“We've got a lot to do over the next couple of weeks from exit interviews, player evaluations, a lot of feedback, a lot of conversations that have to take place with our players so that we can give them good information and prepare them to go into the summer. It's what we call the transformation phase of the year so when they come back in August, they'll be ready to go. I like the team. I think we've got the ingredients. We as coaches just have to put it all together.”

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