Swinney pleased with practices, ready to get the pads on


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One receiver the Tigers will be counting on is redshirt freshman Bryce McNeal, who looked good at times on Monday.
One receiver the Tigers will be counting on is redshirt freshman Bryce McNeal, who looked good at times on Monday.

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said the first two spring practices gave the Clemson coaching staff a chance to look at the mental aspect of some of the Tiger players, but he is ready for Wednesday’s practice to see how the players do when they don pads for the first time.

“We had a good practice today and a good couple of days in shorts,” Swinney said. “But I can’t wait for Wednesday, and I’m anxious to get pads on them and start critiquing them physically as well as mentally. The first couple of practices have been more about the mental part, but Wednesday we can bring the physicality on.”

Swinney said there was a huge difference between this spring practice and last year’s when the staff was trying to get younger players ready for the spotlight.

“Our attention has been very good,” Swinney said. “On both sides on the lines, we have some veteran guys, and there is definitely a big difference from where we were last year. I am very pleased with what I have seen, but we’ll put the pads on them Wednesday and see what we have.”

Swinney said that quarterback Tajh Boyd did as well as could be expected considering this is really his first time with the first team.

“Tajh handled it well, but it’s a lot of pressure to take his first reps and it has to be with the ones,” Swinney said. “He has a couple of veteran offensive linemen, a couple of veteran tight ends and wide outs, and he was out there trying to run the show. He was poised.

“He has to work on some fundamentals, like his tracks with his handoffs, finishing plays with his fakes and things like that. He made a couple of good throws and a couple of bad throws. But he showed a good grasp of what we are doing, and the mistakes he made yesterday he corrected.”

Swinney also said that tight end Dwayne Allen is a player the Tigers will be counting on heavily next season.

“He made some plays for us last year, but he was just swimming,” Swinney said. “Now he has played a whole year, and he’s made some mistakes. But he’s been coached hard, and he’s much more mature as a player. He understands the big picture now.”

One receiver the Tigers will be counting on is redshirt freshman Bryce McNeal, who looked good at times on Monday, but also had some teaching moments with wide receivers coach Jeff Scott, and Swinney said that McNeal still has a lot to learn.

“The athletic part just jumps out at you,” Swinney said. “But he still has a lot of I's to dot and T's to cross. I'm pleased with him. I'm excited about working him all spring. We're teaching him a foundation of the offense. He's shown good promise."

Swinney also said the junior defensive end Kourtnei Brown, who redshirted last season, took advantage of the redshirt year, and after completing Joey Batson's 12-week power hour program over now stands a solid 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds.

"He's really bought into what we're trying to do,” Swinney said. “He's really changed his body. I think he's smarter, too. He's a more complete football player now, too. Last year was a win-win situation for him. He looks good standing over there, so we'll see what he does when we put the pads on this Wednesday."

The Tigers' practice Wednesday is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. It is open to the public, and will be the last time the team practices until after spring break. The Tigers' next scheduled workout will be on March 22nd.

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