Swinney: I'm real pleased with what we got accomplished this spring. We finished up a couple of weeks ago. The biggest thing for us this spring was trying to reestablish ourselves on defense, as far as filling a few holes. We're two years into our system there and played pretty good. We've lost some good players. I really like what we have, from a front-line standpoint. The biggest thing for us, defensively, is creating a little bit of depth.
Offensively, we installed a new system, had some coaching changes this year, brought in Chad Morris as our offensive coordinator here, and I really like what we got done from an installation standpoint in 15 days. We really didn't try to get it all in. We were just trying to get good at what we were doing. The team responded well. I think we've got a good genuine enthusiasm amongst our team and high moral. The big thing, though, is bringing the rest of these guys in this summer. We probably had about 31 scholarship guys that were not on the field this spring. We've got a lot of guys that will be joining us in July and August before we can really complete our team.
What made you decide to go in the direction of Chad Morris and that hurry-up, no huddle-type theme?
Swinney: I felt like we had the personnel here and the personnel that we were recruiting. I thought it would really fit this system really well. It's what I wanted to do. I thought we would be able to be a little unique within this conference. Play at a fast tempo, spread the field and make people have to really defend every patch of grass that's out there. When I talk about spreading the field, I'm not talking about four and five wides. We're two backs and two tight ends. We mix it up with our personnel.
The main thing, though, I felt like we would really be able to accentuate the skills of Tajh Boyd. I really think Tajh Boyd is a dynamic young player that can really do some things throwing the football, but also running the football. I wanted to involve every ounce of his skill set. I think this system will do that. Playing at the tempo that we play at, hopefully we'll put a lot of pressure on defenses and be a tough team to defend.
Can you talk a little bit about Phillip Price and what he's shown you to take over the starting job?
Swinney: This is his fifth year. He's been in the program for a while and played. He came here as a tight end. He's actually been on scholarship for three years. He's been a backup guy. We didn't move him to the offensive line until last year. He's a big, athletic kid that was battling behind some tight ends…he was kind of a role guy for us, a short-yardage goal line guy. We felt like, if he could pick the weight up, he could be a good tackle. He made the move last year and really transitioned all of last season. He got some playing time and learned what to do. He's a 300-pound guy now that still has good athleticism.
"Offensively, we installed a new system, had some coaching changes this year, brought in Chad Morris (pictured above) as our offensive coordinator here, and I really like what we got done from an installation standpoint in 15 days." (Roy Philpott)
How do you keep the defensive line solid with the loss of Da'Quan Bowers?
Swinney: Last year, I felt like we developed good depth. We had good depth last year. We had a lot of guys that got a lot of time. Anytime you lose a junior that creates a void. Malliciah Goodman has been a really good player for us for two years. He's backed up Da'Quan as a freshman and a sophomore. He'll be a junior. Hopefully, this will be his best year, as it should be. Guys should be getting better. I think Malliciah has. He had a good spring. He's got some big shoes to fill.
Our front four have very experienced guys. Malliciah's played a lot. I think Brandon Thompson can be as good a d-tackle as there is out there. Rennie Moore has played a lot and really came on this spring. I think he'll be the athletic-type, like Jarvis [Jenkins]. Over the other side, Andre Branch—he's been a starter for us. Kourtnei Brown, a senior. We've got a pretty good frontline group. The biggest issue is our depth. It's going to come from young players. Corey Crawford is a guy that came in January, who I think has a great future. He's going to be a freshman backing up Branch. Tyler Shatley, inside at d-tackle, is a young guy that's played some, but not a lot. Tavaris Barnes is one of those redshirt guys that's going to be a backup 3-technique. We've got to create the depth from young players. That's going to be the biggest difference from last year.
How do academics look for your incoming freshmen?
Swinney: We had four guys come in January. We've got 25 guys that are out there. We're tacking and following their academic progress, to get them all here by the end of the summer. I think we'll have one, for sure, that will probably be a prep school guy. The rest of them, they are all on track. Hopefully, they'll all make it and be very successful student athletes here at Clemson.
How fluid is the depth chart, at left tackle, linebacker and some of those other places?
Swinney: I think we're pretty set coming out of spring, it looks like with our first group, I would say. Everybody keeps brining up left tackle. Coach [Robbie] Caldwell was as pleased with Phillip as he was with anybody on the line. We're real encouraged there that we can line up and win with him. Hopefully, some other guys will respond. The bigger concern for me is our depth…we've got some young guys that are going to have to play.