Reading between the lines

CLEMSON - CUTigers publisher Roy Philpott overanalyzes the first four days of preseason camp with five observations you won't read anywhere else.

IT'S A DIFFERENT DABO: Call him more businesslike. Call him more experienced. Call him whatever you like but there's no mistaking head coach Dabo Swinney is more reserved with his commentary of this team than what we've heard in previous years.

When asked about a specific player, he's quick to offer praise on that player's particular strengths, as you would expect, but that's about it. And with his prized recruiting class? His words are even more carefully chosen than with his veterans.

Perhaps it's because his team has yet to go through a full-contact practice. Maybe it's because he's settled more into his position as Clemson's head man entering his third full season on the job. Sure, he still carries his enthusiasm and hopes for a big season, but his post practice comments seem toned down this season compared to previous years.

Gone are the comments about back up wide receivers being able to start on any other team in the ACC. Instead, it's more along the lines of "this guy better catch the ball if he's going to play."

Hey, it works for us.

TAJH LIKES HIS TIGHT ENDS: Oh come on. Don't we write this every year? "Clemson is going to throw more to the tight end! Finally!"

For the most part, we do. But the thing is Clemson has thrown more to the tight end in each of the last two seasons than ever before, and with good reason - there's talent at the position. And there's more talent this year than ever before. From freshman Eric MacLain to Brandon Ford to Dwayne Allen, the Tigers have stockpiled athleticism and some quality experience at the position.

Furthermore, Tajh Boyd himself said after Tuesday's practice he feels like he spent the entire summer with Ford and Allen in particular.

"That's part of developing that relationship on the field," he said. "I was with those guys the whole summer - both on and off."

We'll put the 60-reception predictions on the shelf for now, but Tajh likes his tight ends and offensive coordinator Chad Morris does as well. That could actually mean something this season, especially if some of these freshmen wide outs can draw attention to themselves.

ABOUT THE FRESHMEN... OK, so you've probably read this elsewhere about a million times thus far, but we have to throw it in there anyway. In case you haven't figured it out by now, the bulk of this freshman class is what we would classify legitimately as "the real deal."

From Sammy Watkins to Mike Bellamy to Stephone Anthony ... to quote Dennis Green in one of his famous postgame rants, "They are what we thought they were!"

Yes, we know as well as you do the pads haven't come on yet, but putting pads on Watkins, Bellamy, and Martavis Bryant won't limit their effectiveness later today.

Simply put, Dabo isn't going to keep these guys on the bench this season. In fact, go ahead and pencil in Watkins as a starter against Troy.

IT'S SO EASY...: We'll file this under the "we're still skeptical category" but there's an underlying theme regarding the new offense being installed by Chad Morris - it's easy to learn, install and execute.

Don't misconstrue what we are saying here, if Morris were to ask the CUTigers staff to read, interpret and execute one play out of his offense, it wouldn't be easy. But the overall concepts of what he's trying to do with the team seem to be, shall we suggest, "well-received."

Morris himself has suggested this since his arrival in January, and there seems to be a calm understanding of his playbook by all the important parties running the show. You know, guys like Tajh Boyd and Andre Ellington. For Ellington, he takes the handoff or the pitch, waits for the hole to develop and runs through it. No problem. But for Boyd, it can be a little more complicated. He has to read back-side defensive ends and understand check downs while taking into account down and distance and everything else going on.

So far, he seems to be doing a pretty good job across the board.

BACKUP QB IN GOOD HANDS: This is another statement that's easy to misconstrue. There is no quarterback controversy in Clemson at this juncture, however Cole Stoudt continues to show he's a reliable option should the unthinkable happen to Boyd. Oh sure, he's a freshman and there are growing pains to be experienced with a first-year player under center (or in the shotgun), but Stoudt can run the offense and knows what is going on.

Considering we didn't even know who Cole Stoudt was a year ago, that's good news. Top Stories