Dabo Swinney’s “Club Med” is over.
The Tigers donned full pads for the first time in fall camp Tuesday and quickly started hitting.
“It’s hard when you only get so many opportunities to go live,” the Clemson coach said Tuesday. “It kind of exposes bad habits, maybe a little bit lack of knowledge. I saw a little bit of that today, but I’m encouraged.”
To set the tone and prepare the team mentally, Clemson opened the three-hour practice with the PAW drill, which puts three blockers and a running back against a host of defenders. It’s a test of man vs. man and gets the players thinking it will be a physical day.
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“We’ve got a long way to go,” Swinney said. “We’ve got, really, a lot of work to do to get ready to scrimmage, but today was a step in the right direction because we got some live work in today.”
The Tigers also worked on “green zone” and short-yardage situations. Clemson’s first scrimmage of fall camp is scheduled for Saturday morning. Swinney said they’ll mix in more live work in the next few days to prepare for that.
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said this is the beginning of a truer evaluation period. The Tigers’ first four practices were in just shorts or shells.
“I think what you’ll see over the course of the next week or so, you’ll see guys start to separate themselves,” Venables said. “I think you’ll have more clarity on who’s ready to play and who still needs work.”
Multiple players were wearing yellow jerseys and unable to practice Tuesday.
That list included offensive guard Tyrone Crowder, defensive back Mark Fields, defensive end Clelin Ferrell and receivers Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell.
“We had a bunch of guys out today,” Swinney said. “We looked like a Colonel Mustard marching band or something out there today. We had a bunch of guys dinged up.”
Swinney didn’t elaborate specifically on injuries but said they weren’t “major,” and those players are expected back at practice soon.
Receiver Ray Ray McCloud returned to practice in full for the first time this season. He was limited early on after having surgery to repair a scaphoid fracture of his wrist nearly five weeks ago.
Bryant holds QB lead
Five practices into fall camp, “nothing’s changed” in the battle for the starting quarterback role.
Junior Kelly Bryant was named the starter after the spring, and he’s continued to be the most consistent option, Swinney said.
“Kelly’s had five really good days. He’s had excellent command,” Swinney said. “Zerrick and Hunter, just great potential and just doing a great job as well. Nobody asked me about Chase Brice. He’s pretty good too.”
Feaster beefs up
Sophomore running back Tavien Feaster said he ended his freshman season, in which he saw limited action, at 210 pounds. The Spartanburg product reported to fall camp last week at 222 pounds.
And it looks to be all muscle.
“The decision was easy,” Feaster said. “I knew I needed to be a little more physical in my game so I decided to put on a little bit more weight … to bring more power to my game.”
He bulked up by lifting weights, and he says he’s comfortable at 220 pounds. If he can manage it, he’ll stay there.
“(Strength) coach (Joey) Batson and staff did a wonderful job pushing me to my limits running, lifting (in the offseason),” Feaster said. “I think I really got the full college experience.”