COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Do not inform Clemson coach Dabo Swinney he has something to fret about with out offensive stars and group leaders in quarterback Trevor Lawrence and tailback Travis Etienne on the Tigers.
”There’s no one that is left our program that we won’t go into the locker room and substitute,” Swinney stated with a smile. ”That hasn’t been case perpetually and ever and ever.”
Significantly on the two high-profile offensive spots. Clemson seemlessly moved from quarterbacks Tajh Boyd to Deshaun Watson to Lawrence. At tailback, the Tigers throughout Swinney’s time have gone from C.J. Spiller to Andre Ellington, Wayne Gallman and Etienne.
It could be bumpier transitioning from Lawrence and Etienne, who’ve mixed to win the previous three Atlantic Coast Convention gamers of the yr and are off to the NFL.
Nonetheless, the Tigers, who started spring exercises Wednesday, ”are at all times underneath development,” in line with Swinney.
The most recent add ons are rising sophomore passer D.J. Uiagalelei and longtime backup runner Lyn-J Dixon.
”I received a bunch of fellows down in that locker room that we recruited to return in right here and be nice gamers,” stated Swinney, who enters his thirteenth full season at Clemson. ”That is the place we go.”
Ready there as Lawrence’s inheritor obvious is Uiagalelei, a 6-foot-4, 250-pounder, is as adept at smarts and management as he’s along with his robust arm and highly effective legs.
Uiagalelei gave a preview of his skill when Lawrence missed two video games with COVID-19 final fall. He rallied Clemson from 18 factors down in opposition to Boston School for a 34-28 victory. Every week later, Uiagalelei threw for 439 yards, essentially the most passing yards ever given up by Notre Dame regardless of a 47-40 OT loss.
”You bought a sneak preview of what this child can do,” Swinney stated.
Dixon has been a gradual performer behind Etienne, a 5-10 senior who has averaged 6.6 yards a carry – second to Etienne in program historical past. However he is by no means had the burden of a beginning tailback.
If Dixon falters, Clemson has a number of different candidates for featured again together with Chez Mellusi, Darien Rencher and Michael Dukes. The Tigers even have a five-star freshman in Will Shipley from Matthews, North Carolina, who turned down affords from Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State amongst others to signal with Clemson.
There are different spots to shore up on offense together with receiver the place seniors Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell had been group’s prime two wideouts who mixed for 130 catches, 1,902 yards and 14 touchdowns.
However Clemson’s Justyn Ross, a probable NFL first-round receiver who missed final yr with an damage, will exercise in a restricted function this spring and Swinney is hopeful he can return to group this season.
Clemson is far more positive on protection the place it misplaced only one starter from final season. Returnees embody sixth-year tremendous seniors in linebacker James Skalski and security Nolan Turner.
”We have got quite a lot of guys coming again,” Turner stated. ”However that solely issues should you enhance.”
Swinney stated movie of Clemson’s final sport, a 49-28 loss to Ohio State within the nationwide semis, was clear – ”We stunk” on protection.
Turner stated the group has taken possession of the problems and has vowed to enhance. ”I feel we have quite a lot of potential,” he stated. ”We have got to step up and that begins this spring.”
Swinney is hopeful this spring session, which concludes with the group’s yearly scrimmage on April 3, can go off with out a hitch: ”There’s nonetheless a virus on the market,” Swinney stated.
The group received 9 exercises in a yr in the past earlier than the pandemic’s begin shut issues down final March. Swinney believes the self-discipline and protocols that helped Clemson navigate its 10-2 season will work through the spring.
By the tip, Swinney expects to have a greater image of his newest group, which is able to attempt for a seventh straight ACC championship and seventh straight berth within the School Soccer Playoff.
”For us, it is persevering with to grind, it is persevering with to be taught, it is persevering with to develop, it is persevering with to imagine,” he stated.
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