Strength vs. touch

CLEMSON - While it is sure to be debated from now until halfway through the 2009 season, Clemson's quarterback battle could very well come down to two simple things: strength versus touch.

Sure, there are other aspects that will factor into the equation, but at the end of the day it may come down to just that.

Kyle Parker has the better arm strength, while Willy Korn has the better touch.

But regardless of whom you think will start September 5 against Middle Tennessee, one thing remains clear after the first two practices of preseason camp: nothing is written in stone when it comes to the quarterback position at Clemson University.

In fact the only thing we've learned so far is that both quarterbacks are sharing equal reps with the first team.

"I think that's the best way for us to go right now," offensive coordinator Billy Napier said Wednesday night. "We just want them to go out there and compete."

Of course a lot has changed since the same two signal callers battled it out during spring practice - for both players really.

Korn has totally revamped his throwing motion now that he is fully recovered from the shoulder surgery he had at the end of last season. Just one look at his new release reveals he's much more equipped for the upcoming season now than he was in April.

Meanwhile Parker's fundamentals have also improved after a strong summer while focusing strictly on football instead of trying to balance two sports.

No longer does he have to worry about football practice during the day to go along with a baseball game later that night.

Looking at the big picture, it appears both quarterbacks have improved their stock in the eyes of Napier.


Both Kyle Parker and Willy Korn (pictured above) have shown improvement in the passing game based off their work this summer.
"I think fundamentally Willy is further along than what he was [in the spring]," Napier said. "He had a good summer from that standpoint. And then having Kyle now working with us strictly on football, that helps him from a mechanics standpoint as well."

But based on what happened during the spring, and even with the improvement both have made during the summer, it seems obvious each quarterback brings at least one skill to the table that gives him edge.

Parker's arm is huge, there's simply no other way to say it.

But Korn's touch on the deep ball seemed to be better and that was before he revamped his throwing motion, mind you.

"Obviously he doesn't have unbelievable arm strength but he has really good accuracy and he's been really working on his feet and some other things," Napier said of Korn. "He's done a good job shortening up his release."

So two days in ... not much has changed, as expected.

Stay tuned.

STOCK RISING: Dabo Swinney called out a handful of players that have caught his attention the first two days of practice, but he came back to three players on multiple occasions: Kevin Alexander, Marquan Jones and Andre Ellington.

"Kevin is one of those guys if he would just say a word the entire team would follow," Swinney said. "He's around 265 pounds and just plays big."

Meanwhile Ellington continues to draw comparisons to his senior teammate in the backfield - C.J. Spiller.

"Sometimes you can't tell the difference between him and No. 28," Swinney said. "They look about the same. He's going to be a guy that everybody is talking about at some point.


Coach Swinney had strong praise for red-shirt freshman running back Andre Ellington Wednesday, comparing him once again to C.J. Spiller.
"I'm just so glad we red-shirted him. That's a classic example of not wasting a first-year."

And Marquan Jones, now a sophomore, could be turning into this year's version of Tyler Grisham.

"He ran a 4.38 this summer and he can fly, but he has to play fast," Swinney said. "Jacoby was like that a little bit as a freshman and he kind of made a transition during his sophomore season.

"But he's got to play the slot for us this year and the Z-position, which is what Tyler did."

FRESHMAN ORIENTATION: Both Billy Napier and Swinney had strong praise for freshman quarterback Tajh Boyd Wednesday.

Swinney said he wanted to test Boyd Tuesday by throwing him in with the first team unexpectedly in his first practice.

"He threw an interception and got kind of down on himself but he came back. He kind of looked like a doe yesterday but today he grew a couple of antlers," he said. "He has an air about him. No question. He's got some skills."

Napier said Boyd's biggest hurdle has nothing to do with mechanics, but more with understanding the offense.

"Tajh Boyd had a better day today," Napier said. "He got a few reps in the 7-on-7. He has a little trouble processing information but he has the tools. He was relaxed a little bit today [compared to yesterday].

"We are really trying to prepare him. He has a ton of ability. Big strong kid with a great arm and a quick release."

QUICK HITS: Swinney said he was pleased with his kickers Wednesday, but he still wants to find a back-up snapper and holder. ... He also said senior linemen JaMarcus Grant had the best footwork of any linemen on the team, he just needs to channel his strength into his hands more. "If you watch his feet he looks like a first-round draft pick," he said.

NEXT UP: The Tigers return to practice Thursday evening at 4:45. All practices are closed to the general public. The first day of two-a-days is scheduled for Aug. 10.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "As the line goes, so will we go." - Dabo Swinney.

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