Orange and White Thoughts
With brand new coordinators on both sides of the ball, the spring was mainly focused on terminology and schemes. The coaches admittedly tried to get as much in as possible, and then further develop players within the system in the fall. There were some good surprises on Saturday and there were some disappointments.
The timing between the quarterbacks and wide receivers is much farther ahead now than it was this time last year. Both quarterbacks appeared comfortable with all five wide receivers. Charlie Whitehurst may not have put many points on the board, but he looked much more comfortable throwing the football. One area that Whitehurst appears to be benefiting from is the underneath passes. The Tigers did not show much of a vertical passing game on Saturday. He was much more settled in the pocket and was very accurate throwing the ball underneath.
Will Proctor is without a doubt the number two quarterback. The talk all spring had been about how well Proctor was playing. It clearly showed on Saturday. Last season, Proctor was not ready to step in and lead this team. In just a short time under Spence, Proctor appears very comfortable in this offense. He showed off his athleticism as well as couple of beautiful play fakes.
Anthony Waters looked very impressive on Saturday. The Tigers played mostly zone coverage on Saturday, and Waters did a good job of getting in his drops. Waters made two really nice plays batting passes down in coverage against Chansi Stuckey.
Several redshirt freshman on defense had very good days. Michael Hamlin played both free safety and cat safety, and he looked equally comfortable at both positions. Fellow redshirt freshman safety Roy Walker showed off his athleticism. Walker does not appear to be showing any ill-effects from his knee surgery. Chris Clemons will continue to push Sergio Gilliam for a starting position at cornerback. Clemons showed maturity beyond his years, when both Whitehurst and Proctor made beautiful play fakes. The play was design for the quarterback to fake the hand off, and then bootleg out and hit Stuckey or Kelvin Grant. Clemons blew the play up both times by blanketing Stuckey and Grant.
Both running backs did carry the football well, but neither are great receivers coming out of the backfield. If Duane Coleman does not return, the offense may not have a great receiver coming out of the backfield. This is the areas where Kyle Browning and Reggie Merriweather must make big strides to improve in over the summer.
The suspensions this spring were a disappointment. Nick Watkins had a great spring, but he closed it out on a sour note by being suspended for the Orange and White game due to a violation of team rules. Coleman's suspension has been well noted, and his future is still very much in doubt. Coleman has been praised several times on this site for his competitiveness. Yes, he is not content being the number two guy on the depth chart, but he is the only one that can do something about it. Players and coaches both say it is up to Coleman whether or not he returns. Coleman can really help this football team. He needs to realize that fact and rededicate himself to the coaches and his teammates.
Barry Richardson was absolutely worked over on Saturday. Richardson has the talent to be as good as any offensive lineman Clemson has ever had. He has stated publicly that he would like to lose twenty pounds over the summer. You can say that Richardson is young, and that he should still be in high school, but he showed enough maturity in the fall to be a freshman All-American. There is no excuse for the effort he gave this spring. It is also up to Richardson to find his hunger and return to his All-American status.