Sunday Clemson Football Notebook

CLEMSON – On a rainy Sunday afternoon, the Clemson football team practiced in shoulder pads for the first time, giving the offensive line the opportunity to get a little physical.

However, because it was so wet and because the team won't be in full gear until Tuesday, it's still too early to fully evaluate the overall quality of the Tigers' big men.

But offensive guard Nathan Bennett said the line is no where near where it needs to be come the first game against Texas A&M.

"We've got a long ways to go," he said. "But I think this summer we've come together as an o-line. The first day in pads was shaky, but we're just going to keep plugging along and keep working hard. I think we're working hard toward where we need to go."

While the early results aren't where Bennett would prefer them, he still likes what he sees.

"I'd say everybody has made great strides in improvement (from last year)," he said. "Just to throw out some names, Chip's got incredible strength; Dustin's lost some weight and he's got incredible quickness now; Roman's gotten heavier and Barry's dropped some weight. They all look good to me."

The offensive line worked on reach blocking and zone blocking Sunday.

Position battles
There seems to be two pretty good fights for a spot on the starting units.

On offense, redshirt freshman Aaron Kelly has the early advantage over redshirt junior Kelvin Grant at one wide receiver spot. Sunday marked the third straight day Clemson coach Tommy Bowden cited the play of Kelly.

The other position where a dogfight is fully underway is at cornerback, where junior Sergio Gilliam, who is listed first on the depth chart, is trying to hold off redshirt freshman Chris Clemons.

"Chris Clemons is a very good tackler and right now he's a lot more physical because he's bigger than Sergio," Bowden said. "It's gotten into a really good competition."

Davis shows glimpses of talent
Bowden said freshman tailback James Davis had a really good run today during some drills and that more and more of his true talent is showing every day.

"He did some things, which made you say, ‘Hey, he has a chance to jump in the mix,' after one day in shoulder pads," Bowden said. "They say that you sign a tailback and you coach a fullback. He does things that are God-given, where if (running backs coach) Burton (Burns) don't mess him up, he might be alright. They usually have great balance, great vision and great explosion and he's got some of those skills. You see flashes of that out there. He's got some tailback skills."

News and notes
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