Clemson’s Swinney stays mum on quarterback battle

03/11/2014 12:18 AM

03/11/2014 12:19 AM

There’s no budge in coach Dabo Swinney, who continued to keep his thoughts private and the running tab of the competition at quarterback confidential as Clemson grinds through spring practice.

“Way too early for all of that,” Swinney said Monday. “We’re keeping a snap count and a mental log of everything and a physical log of everything.

“Right now, it’s just about challenging them and seeing how they respond.”

Cole Stoudt, Chad Kelly and Deshaun Watson will continue to battle for the starting spot for the foreseeable future.

“Real pleased with everybody,” Swinney said, “But it’s just Day 4.”

Pressed for further insight, Swinney politely dug in his heels and explained again that there are no preconceived notions about the outcome.

“It’s wide open. It’s legitimately a competition,” he said. “I’d save all the drama if I had that penciled in already.”

While most of the curiosity about this year’s team will be exhausted at quarterback, Clemson has several intriguing battles this spring, including those percolating at running back, receiver, offensive tackle and cornerback.

Three receivers in this year’s freshman class enrolled in January, and the bounty at corner from last year’s class has begun to blossom.

“I like how our guys are responding,” Swinney said. “Our coaches have done a good job of creating an edge and a sense of urgency.”

The immediate goal is the first full stadium scrimmage March 31, and warmer temperatures beginning late last week brought opportunities for accelerating the pace.

Swinney said the competition for playing time at tackle seems farther along than quarterback, and the receivers might be deeper than he initially thought. Walk-ons Adrian Dunn and Seth Ryan, along with Daniel Rodriguez, have “improved as much as anybody on our team.”

“I’m talking about great improvement from (last) summer until where they are now,” he said. Of Rodriguez, he said, “everybody knows him as the solider, but he’s really developed into a good football player.”

Running back D.J. Howard has been dialed in the first four days, Swinney said, and freshman Wayne Gallman “is going to be a fun guy to watch.”

The long-term objective is determining pecking orders, especially at quarterback.

“After four days, I have no idea,” Swinney said. “There (are) 11 more days. If I said today, ‘He’s the guy,’ he may come out and stink it up tomorrow.

“At some point, you make a decision,” Swinney said. “When that is – after spring, middle spring, fall camp, third game – I don’t know. You know when you know.”

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