Different day and age

CLEMSON - Dabo Swinney assumed all quarterbacks got hit in practice. Alabama born and bred, he didn't know any other way until Norm Chow visited to Tuscaloosa.

Monday's scrimmage was wide-open, quarterbacks were subject real, live tackles, just like the ones Swinney participated in and later coached while at Alabama under Gene Stallings. That is, until BYU offensive coordinator Norm Chow came to speak at an Alabama coach's clinic when Swinney was an assistant there.

"He couldn't believe it, he was just paralyzed by what he'd seen in practice, because our quarterbacks used to get smoked out there every day, but the game has changed so much in how you practice, from an NFL standpoint to a college standpoint to a high school standpoint" Swinney said.

That's what made Monday's scrimmage in Clemson so unique. It was open season on Cole Stoudt, Chad Kelly and Deshaun Watson.

"I think that was critical for us," Chad Morris said, "Putting those guys live. Coach Swinney and I talked about it before spring started. It's always a tough situation. It's always: should you or shouldn't you?

Watson and the other Clemson quarterbacks were subject to hits on Monday.
"But I think it was a consensus, both agreed, let's make these guys live. It will help them. It will help our offense. It will help the defense. Being able to watch those guys go live [Monday] was really good.

"Hopefully, we'll get another opportunity in spring to let them go live again. I know they liked it. They liked it."

After Morris' interview, Swinney told reporters next Monday's scrimmage will also be live."

"I think that's the best thing for those guys," Morris said. "Obviously, here and in the fall camp, try to do the same thing."

Nowadays, Swinney's like just about every other coach. Quarterbacks, at most, get a nice, easy two-hand touch, maybe a little less, definitely nothing more.

"You hold your breath," Swinney said of the live work, "But I've lost two quarterbacks two years in a row, non-contact."

He added, "They protected themselves well [Monday], but it really gave us a good chance to get a little better evaluation of not only them, but also the other side, because that is something that, sometimes, you can take for granted on the defensive side."

Kelly didn't mind the contact.

"Just being able to get hit was good in getting your mind right and knowing that you've got a lock in your head, you've got to get the ball out before you get sacked," he said. "The line did excellent. If the line keeps on doing what they're doing, it's going to be a special year.

"Coach Morris reiterated it in our meeting just now. This offense can be better than it has in previous years, because of the way the line is playing and the way everybody else is playing, getting everybody ready."

Sporting a strong grass stain on the front left shoulder of his white jersey, Stoudt smiled when asked about Monday's contact.

"It makes you lighter on your feet. That's one thing, because you don't want to get hit, but it adds a little more competitive nature, because you want to make plays," he said. "You've got to try and get out. When you're just wearing a purple jersey, you can't get hit. Somebody just runs by you and says sack. Being able to be hit, you can get out of that and show you can avoid a sack."

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