Swinney eager to see spring game competition, crowd

Clemson's Dabo Swinney, left, talks to Clemson's Isaiah Battle during practice at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Dabo Swinney, left, talks to Clemson's Isaiah Battle during practice at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C.

CLEMSON – As far as Dabo Swinney’s concerned, the Orange and White game is the first of eight football Saturdays to fill Death Valley this year.

The competition-heavy Clemson spring concludes with the split-squad exhibition at 4 p.m. (televised on ESPNU), giving Tiger fans a glimpse of the standouts before this fall.

“Some people don’t like spring games,” Swinney said. “I actually enjoy it. It’s really good to see guys have totally different roles and seeing how they respond to it. I’m looking forward to it. Hope we’ve got a huge crowd. That’s something I’d really like to see.

Venables not pleased with late spring focus

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“At least this whole lower bowl filled up – we have a lot of recruits coming here. It’s going to be a beautiful day. It’s creates the atmosphere – another one of those evaluation pieces that helps us (in recruiting).”

For a second consecutive spring game, all eyes are on senior Cole Stoudt and sophomore Chad Kelly – this time, battling for starting quarterback. The three-way competition with five-star freshman Deshaun Watson in the mix will resume in fall camp when the Gainesville product is back from a broken collarbone.

“It’s definitely a benefit to Cole and Chad,” said Swinney. “They are going to get more snaps than they’ve would’ve gotten because we would’ve split those snaps. (Would have) rolled Deshaun working on both sides. That’s a benefit to them. That’s a part of competition.”

Both Kelly and Stoudt have benefited from the extra reps out of Tajh Boyd’s shadow.

“Any time you can be out there and see coverages more and more – get a better feel for where you need to go with the ball a lot sooner (it’s good),” said Kelly. “Just coming out here every day and pushing each other. You get better by pushing each other and trying to score. That’s with everybody.”

“From day one to where I am now, I feel like I’ve improved substantially,” Stoudt said. “I’m happy with how I’m performing. I’m going to constantly push myself to get better and for the team to get better.

“All I have to do is perform to the best of my ability and the best guy will play. I’m just going to do the best that I can. Make sure that I can be the best that I can be.”

Ballyhooed throughout spring, former five-star cornerback and the new Clemson No. 2 to watch, Mackensie Alexander, will see his first action in front of Tiger fans. He and sophomore Cordrea Tankersley have been hailed as favorites to take over the two open corner positions.

They will likely get their fair share of matchups against freshmen receivers – the three talented mid-year enrollees Demarre Kitt (No. 8), Kyrin Priester (No. 17) and Artavis Scott (No. 3) making their debuts as well.

The matchup in the trenches – one, unsettled but competitive (offensive) – the other, deep and competitive (defense), is one to watch despite the split squads.

Swinney says when you put it all together – they’ve seen elite versus elite on the field preparing for the season ahead.

“Iron sharpens iron,” he said. “Our offense is going against a top-10 defense every day, and our defense is going against a top-10 offense every day. And a prideful group. There’s a lot of things happening…We’ve got to become a very disciplined team. We’re not trying to make up much. That’s the challenge.”

Along with discipline, they are looking for consistency.

“We’ve had just a good day here – and a good day here across the board,” Swinney said. “We do have several guys that fit that (consistent model), but we don’t have enough. That’s where we have to grow this summer. It’s not just young guys. Some of the veterans guys who’ve played more than anybody were inconsistent and a little undisciplined over the last week.

“That’s kind of the story for me. We have a lot of good on tape as well. The job is to get us better.”

Clemson spring game release...

CLEMSON, S.C. - Clemson will hold its annual Spring Game on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. Admission is free to the game that will conclude Clemson spring practice sessions. Head Coach Dabo Swinney hopes to break the attendance for the Spring Game, which stands at 30,000 last year.

The game will be televised live by ESPNU. It is the first time an ESPN network station has broadcast the Clemson Spring Game live.

Swinney and his coaches divided the team equally for the Orange vs. White contest. Chad Kelly will quarterback the Orange team and will have the services of wide receivers Adam Humphries, and Demarre Kitt, plus running backs Zac Brooks and Wayne Gallman at his disposal. The White squad will be quarterbacked by senior Cole Stoudt, who will throw to receivers Mike Williams and Artavis Scott. D.J. Howard and C.J. Davidson will be the White Team running backs.

The Orange defense will be led by returning starters Corey Crawford and Josh Watson, while the White defense features returning All-American Vic Beasley, and top tackler Stephone Anthony.

Dan Brooks will serve as the head coach of the Orange Team, while Marion Hobby will be the head coach of the White Team. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris will call the plays for both teams.

The contest will feature four 15-minute quarters. The clock will run in normal fashion for the first two quarters and the first five minutes of the third period. A running time clock will be used for the remainder of the game. There will be no kickoff returns or punt returns.

The Spring Game will be preceded by the fifth annual Clemson Sons Bowl at 1:30 p.m. The flag football game features former Clemson football players in age range from 25-60. Among the former Tigers schedule to play in the game are Homer Jordan, Tye Hill, Patrick Sapp, Will Merritt, Justin Miller, Airese Currie, Leroy Hill, Charles Hafley and Chris Chancellor.

Stadium/Parking Information

Parking is free, and will be available in Lot 3A, Lot 4, Lot 5, Lot 6, Lot 8, Lot 10, McFadden Lot, Shot Gun Alley and the streets surrounding Littlejohn Coliseum. Handicap accessible parking will be available in the North Lot (C-7).

Gates open at 1:00 p.m.

Enter through Gates 1, 5, 9, 11 or 13

Seating available in the lower bowl

Concessions and restrooms will be open throughout the stadium

First aid stand will be open at Portal T

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