Spring Practice Fact or Fiction

Fact or fiction? Clemson's red zone offense will improve in 2006.

Even as a true freshman, WR/KR Jacoby Ford has lived up to the hype.
FACT: His first touch of the football in Death Valley saw him take a bubble screen 53-yards for a touchdown. He's also demonstrated good hands, as well as the ability to learn Rob Spence's complicated offensive scheme. Despite a bruised foot suffered in last Saturday's scrimmage, Ford will challenge for significant playing time both as a wide receiver and a punt returner later this fall.

The Tigers are in serious trouble if Will Proctor goes down with an injury.
FICTION: Yes, Proctor is the only quarterback on the roster with significant game day experience, however, both Cullen Harper and Tribble Reese have both responded with strong play this spring. Both quarterbacks are also mobile and have adequate arm strength. While it may be impossible to predict how a player will respond in a pressure situation for the first time, both Harper and Reese have the skills to get the Tigers through a short-term injury to Proctor.

The Tigers are set at cornerback with C.J. Gaddis and Duane Coleman as starters.
FICTION: Yes the Tigers have plenty of depth at the position, but most of the depth is inexperienced and keep in mind that both Gaddis and Coleman were playing different positions at this time last year. The good news is that playing predominantly zone coverage should help prevent the big play in the passing game next season, as will a strong defensive front led by Gaines Adams, but replacing a player of Tye Hill's caliber will be no easy task.

Cole Chason will be the starting punter in the season opener.
FACT: Coming off a shaky junior year that saw him statistically rank near the bottom of all D-I punters, Chason has responded with a very strong spring. No, spring practice isn't the same as game day conditions, but Chason has still responded despite constant pressure from walk-on punter Mark Buccholz, not to mention Tommy Bowden. "I've got to find out if he's tricking me," he said of Chason's improvement this spring. In addition, the Tigers' return to a "normal" punt formation should also help prevent the five blocked punts that occurred last year and also help with Chason's get-off time and rhythm.

The Tigers' offensive line will be the best it has been in the Tommy Bowden era.
FACT: Late last summer, Bowden suggested his team would soon have an offensive line that would rival some of the top programs in the country. Nearly nine months later, it appears as though he was right. Returning nine of 10 players in the two-deep rotation this year gives offensive line coach Brad Scott plenty of depth and returning talent at nearly every position up front. The good news is he'll also be able to slowly bring along red-shirt freshmen Thomas Austin, Cory Lambert and Barry Humphries as needed.

Clemson's red zone offense will improve in 2006.
FACT: It has to. Despite the remarkable consistency of junior kicker Jad Dean last year, the Tigers have to get better at punching the ball into end zone once inside the 20-yard line. A healthy James Davis should make a tremendous difference here, as will the mobility of QB Will Proctor. Furthermore, second-year coordinator Rob Spence has installed a plethora of new formations and new plays to help the Tigers in red zone situations. Case in point- the Tigers actually ran the wishbone during Saturday's scrimmage.

Will Proctor's mobility won't make that much of a difference this year.
FICTION: While Proctor doesn't have the speed of former Tiger QB Woodrow Dantzler, don't be surprised to see his mobility become a big factor this year, especially on third down situations. "We aren't running different plays, but we have specific plays where we can read a certain guy and then we (the quarterbacks) can take it," Proctor said. "It's definitely a play that has been working for us so we'll keep calling it."

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