‘We're making some progress'

CLEMSON — Dabo Swinney looked all the reporters in the eye following Wednesday's practice and without blinking said he can see his football team is making progress.

It might not be the progress Swinney thinks his Tigers have to make this spring in order to compete for an ACC Championship, but nonetheless, it is progress.

"We've still got a ways to go, but it's a journey," the Clemson head coach said. "The kids are really starting to buy into doing things the right way. I'm pleased with the toughness element."

That toughness element is coming from the play of his offensive line, which at times has looked really good coming off the ball, and on the defensive front, which according to the coaching staff has controlled the last two practices.

Either way, it appears the team is getting the message Swinney wanted to get across, and that is to be a tough and physical football team.

STILL MAKING HEADLINES: For the third straight practice, Swinney praised the play of running back Jamie Harper. The sophomore, who has got his weight down to 224 pounds, has been joined by fellow freshman Andre Ellington in making the best of a good situation, being that C.J. Spiller isn't getting all the touches this spring.

Swinney decided before the start of spring to hold Spiller out of contact drills and scrimmages, while allowing Harper and Ellington to share the load.

"Jamie is a special player," Swinney said. "He's got a great future. I'm really proud of him because he's really made the commitment to be great. He is one of those guys who's blessed and has been great his whole life, but when you get to this level you need every edge.

"We all know as we get older and start to change; you learn to take care of your body the right way. He's made a commitment to do that. Jamie Harper is going to be one of those guys who we're counting on to come through and have a really good year for us."

BOUNCING BACK: After struggling earlier in practice, Clemson kicker Richard Jackson bounced back at the end by nailing a 50-yard kick.

Earlier Jackson had missed two kicks from 40-plus yards, pulling both way to the right.

Spencer Benton, who has been the more consistent of the two, made all four of his kicks earlier in the practice, but missed his long field goal at the end of practice. Right now, the coaches feel it is still too close to call as to who has the upper hand.

Not showing his hand. When a reporter asked this question, "what are some of the things that you don't like about the spring so far? Swinney replied with a laugh – "I'm not telling you that."

What Swinney did say was that he wasn't losing any sleep.

"I wouldn't say that I'm not sleeping at night over a certain area," he said. "We have questions, we have concerns and hopefully we can hide those. I'm pleased with the people that we have. It's our job to get‘em better.

"We don't have a supplemental draft in the summer."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It kind of goes back and forth. Good play, bad play. It's still kind of the same at this point. — Swinney on the quarterback race between Kyle Parker and Willy Korn.

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