Dabo Swinney talks spring game, QB battle
A mixture of proven playmakers and talented young receivers impressed during Clemson’s spring game Saturday at Death Valley.
The Tigers have to replace two of the top wideouts in school history, Mike Williams and Artavis Scott. They appear to have plenty of capable candidates ready to do so.
Veterans Deon Cain, Ray-Ray McCloud and Hunter Renfrow totaled 11 receptions for 85 yards, while sophomores Cornell Powell and Diondre Overtron and redshirt freshman T.J. Chase tallied 10 catches for 103 yards.
Overton had perhaps the best grab of the day, hauling in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Hunter Johnson in the corner of the end zone with a defender in good position.
“It was good to see a guy like Diondre Overton make a touchdown with a big play there. He’s a young player learning what he’s doing,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said. “He started off a little slow this spring. For him to come out there and have a nice touchdown catch in a venue like today was a big positive step for him.”
McCloud finished with 34 yards, while Cain was unable to get loose as his four receptions went for a total of five yards. Still, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney expects big seasons from both of the juniors.
McCloud had 49 grabs for 472 yards in five starts in 2016. Cain didn’t start a game, but finished with 38 catches for 724 yards and nine touchdowns.
“They’ve had great springs. Really both of them I’m really pleased with what they’ve done, how they’ve worked all spring. Deon had a couple of opportunities today that didn’t really work out, but man he’s been awesome all spring,” Swinney said. “Ray-Ray, you saw some plays from him the in the run game, return game, passing game, and that’s what we need from him. We need him to be a playmaker for us, and he’s done that all spring.”
Starting right tackle Sean Pollard suffered a sprained ankle in the second quarter and didn’t return. The injury isn’t believed to be serious.
Quarterback Kelly Bryant, who is battling for the starting job, tore a tendon on his right pinky finger on the first play of the game after a fumbled snap. He played through the pain with tape on his finger and will have to wear a splint for the next six weeks.
Backup offensive lineman Noah Green has decided to give up football after battling injuries.
“Noah has taken a medical (leave). He decided that back in December. It’s a decision that he made,” Swinney said. “Those of you close to the program, y’all know he’s had some health issues and some intestinal things and stuff that he was born with and he’s had a couple surgeries.
“That was a big loss for us because Noah’s a good football player. But he’s still in the program.”
FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE
Clemson players and coaches insist the Tigers won’t have a hangover after winning the national title and are ready to move forward without Deshaun Watson, Mike Williams, Ben Boulware and others.
“We’ve turned the page since Day 1 of spring,” McCloud said. “We know that last year is last year and the best is the standard. We’ve got to finish the next chapter and get the job done.”