So what have we learned from Clemson's first three practices?
If you're looking for legitimate answers that will solve the inexperience on the offensive line and at linebacker, it hasn't happened just yet.
Keep in mind the team doesn't put on full pads until Wednesday. Once that happens, we'll have a much deeper understanding of which young linemen are ready to play, which freshmen will definitely avoid redshirts, and which linebackers are solidifying their status at which positions.
A couple of truly newsworthy items include two players who have officially switched positions. Jock McKissic, who practiced as an offensive tackle during spring ball, moved back to his natural position in Clemson's interior defensive line, and Haydrian Lewis, a former cornerback, is now helping provide depth as a free safety.
Also, redshirt senior offensive lineman Bobby Hutchinson is now a player/coach but will be more of a coach than anything else it appears this season.
So what else have we learned so far?
#5. FORD, LEWIS HEALTHY AGAIN
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but truthfully, the first three practices of any preseason camp aren't going to reveal the secrets to the upcoming season. Keep in mind the Tigers finished up their third day of installation Sunday and have yet to even put on full pads. The most important thing between now and Wednesday and for the rest of preseason camp for that matter, is staying injury free. Reserve WR Xavier Dye has a banged up shoulder, but should be fine by mid-week. Speaking of injuries, we've also learned two players who suffered season-ending injuries last season, Jacoby Ford (ankle) and Haydrian Lewis (knee), are now back close to 100 percent.
#4. DA'QUAN BOWERS HAS PUT ON WEIGHT
So it turns out freshman defensive end Da'Quan Bowers put on a couple of pounds during the offseason. Big deal. He'll be back at 265 pounds well before the season opener against Alabama. Perhaps the more intriguing item surrounding Bowers is Tommy Bowden's daily talks with media. Bowden offered regular praise for Bowers during spring practice, but has often referenced the fact he'll have to line up against All-American tackle Andre Smith on Aug. 30, calling the matchup a high school kid versus an All-American. Interesting. Is it motivation, coach speak, the truth or some combination of the three? Don't worry, Bowers will be on the field early in Clemson's first game against Alabama.
#3. QBS, WRS ARE IN SYNC
One aspect of the team Bowden has been able to gauge in the early going is throwing and catching. Cullen Harper apparently hasn't missed a beat since spring practice and perhaps more importantly, hasn't let all the preseason hype get to his head. He's still the same soft-spoken quarterback who started his first game a year ago. Apparently, the other quarterbacks have looked pretty good too- including Willy Korn. On the receiver front, the Tigers know what they have Aaron Kelly, Tyler Grisham and Jacoby Ford, but they'd like to see more out of their fourth, fifth and sixth wide receivers.
#2. SPECIAL TEAMS STILL A PRIORITY
Much like spring practice, the team appears to be just as focused on special teams as ever before. Bowden said Saturday the same emphasis has been placed on all of Clemson's special teams as what we saw during spring ball. What should you keep an eye on in the coming weeks? Well, how about a developing battle in the works at punter with Dawson Zimmerman and Jimmy Maners. Nick Skinner will also make a run for the starting long-snapper spot. Outside of that most positions appear to be locked down. Buchholz will be the kicker, C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford will be the featured returners. It's just a matter of getting in enough practice to make sure it all comes together in time for Alabama. New special teams coordinator Andre Powell will help lead the way here.
#1. DAVIS, SPILLER WELCOME NEW RBs
The early returns on freshmen running backs Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper have been pretty good. Harper is the bigger, more physical style of running back many thought he would be when he signed with Clemson in February and Ellington offers a nice burst of speed and explosiveness. Furthermore, both have been aided by a pair of "old pros" in James Davis and C.J. Spiller. How four running backs with so much talent can coexist on any roster is a feat in itself, but these guys appear to have done it. While Davis and Spiller get credit for their on-the-field talent, they should get just as much for their off-the-field cohesiveness.
DAY THREE: 5 Things We've Learned
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