With an eye toward UGA, Tigers earn Swinney's praise for pre-break performance

'Today was as good a practice as we've had in a long time - outstanding, and very physical'

Football - Vic Beasley

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football - Vic Beasley

It's only mid-March, but already Clemson's Tigers have Georgia on their minds.

With the idea of setting a standard of performance what will allow the Tigers to successfully compete against a top 10 Georgia team on Aug.31, Dabo Swinney says he and his coaches have put his players under pressure early.

They responded to his liking on Wednesday, as Clemson wrapped up the first five-practice segment of spring drills and took off on an 11-day spring break. The Tigers will next practice on March 25, with nine sessions scheduled leading up to the Orange-White spring game on April 13.

"We're going to open up with a top-five or top-10 team, and we've tried to create that atmosphere," said Swinney, whose Tigers worked in controlled scrimmage situations on Wednesday. "Today was as good a practice as we've had in a long time - outstanding, and very physical."

The defensive star of the day was rising junior defensive end Vic Beasley, who picked off a pass by Tajh Boyd and returned it for a touchdown. It was the second interception and TD return of spring drills by Beasley.

Swinney said he's been pleased with Beasley's progress, both in putting on weight and in developing himself into an every-down defensive end.

"He's got good instincts for the game - a good feel," Swinney said. "He's figured it out."

As a group, Swinney said Clemson's defensive ends have impressed.

"There's not a miss in the group," he said. "They can play - every one of them."

The defensive secondary continued to work shorthanded, with Travis Blanks sidelined by a mild concussion he suffered on Monday, while Bashaud Breeland missed practice after learning that his grandfather had suffered a stroke. Swinney said he expects Garry Peters to rejoin the unit after spring break.

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