ACC: Ethan Reeve
Here are highlights from Thursday's practices, as provided by the sports information directors:
Practices are getting more and more physical at Clemson. After two days of working in helmets and shorts, the Tigers added shoulder pads to their uniform on Thursday for an early evening practice. On Saturday the team will be in full pads for the first time.
The Tigers got through the workout in good health as no injuries were reported. There were a few players who pulled up with cramps late in the practice due to the humid weather conditions, but fewer players had the problem than the previous night.
Swinney says: “We had another good day," coach Dabo Swinney said. "We are getting more and more physical as we work our way to the first day in pads on Saturday. There are some mistakes out there, but we have had a good tempo on both sides of the ball and that is good to see. I loved the spirit we have shown so far.”
On the wide receivers: “I know that is the big question on offense, but I am not concerned. It is very close in terms of the competition for playing time. They have all had great moments so far. You want a highly competitive situation and that is what it has been.
“Xavier Dye and Terrence Ashe have had the most experience among the returning guys, but they have been mostly backups. I hope to have several guys involved at that position.”
On the offensive line: “I feel good about the first six, the question is who will be seven, eight and nine [players on the second team]. Matt Sanders has been around and has played well. Phillip Price has looked good and is now up to 298 pounds. We also look for Brandon Thomas to make progress. Kalon Davis has made a big change physically since he came here in January. I think he is going to be a terrific player.”
Schedule: The Tigers return to the practice fields on Friday and Saturday evening and will take Sunday off. The first two-a-day session is Monday. All practices are closed to the public. Fan Appreciation Day is Sunday, Aug. 22.
First-year coach Jimbo Fisher was greeted by photographers chronicling the historic moment as he crossed under the arched entrance to the Al Dunlap Practice Fields -- the first time since August 1976 that the Seminoles began a preseason with a new head coach.
“It was a good moment, but you had to put it behind you and go coach,” said Fisher.
In all, 103 Seminoles took the field in 90-degree heat, under cloudless skies for the session that ran just over two hours.
“Everyone was excited,” said senior quarterback Christian Ponder, who lined up alongside nine returning starters on offense. “Everyone’s ready to start the year off. There was a little anxiety in the beginning and it was a little warm, but guys pushed, worked hard and were excited. Finally the season has started. … It’s going to be a long camp but we’re going to do a lot of work to get better.”
Highlights: Ponder connected on a couple perfectly thrown deep balls to sophomore wide receiver Rodney Smith during 7-on-7 drills. Freshman wide receivers Christian Green and Kenny Shaw and junior Bert Reed, and freshman tight end Will Tye, all left impressions with catches in traffic. Ochuko Jenije, sophomore cornerback Greg Reid and junior safety Terrance Parks came up with hustling pass break-ups, while freshman safety Chad Abram collected an interception.
Comebacks: Offensive tackles Antwane Greenlee and safety Avis Commack returned to action on the field after recovering from significant injuries.
Schedule: The Seminoles will practice again Friday at 6 p.m.
The Demon Deacons practiced for more than two-and-a-half hours at the Doc Martin Football Practice Complex on Thursday night. The Deacons ran through a number of standard blocking and passing drills with a good dose of emphasis on the fundamentals.
“What I was impressed with was the enthusiasm of the players and, especially, the enthusiasm of the coaching staff,” said coach Jim Grobe. “You can tell that Coach [Ethan] Reeve and his [strength and conditioning] staff did a tremendous job of getting the guys in shape.”
On the defense: “What we’ve got more than anything is an enthusiastic group that is excited about playing defense,” said Grobe. “We have better overall team speed on defense. There’s some young guys but it’s a pretty physical unit, they like to mix it up. They like to get 11 guys around the football. They do all the things that coaches enjoy seeing on defense. I think if the group will come together and not give up big plays, and be more aggressive in taking the ball away from people. But this can be a pretty good defensive football team.”
On offensive guard Joe Looney: “He’s the most enthusiastic guy on the football team,” said Grobe. “He’s an Aaron Curry-type at offensive guard, as far as his attitude. As far as a guy who plays as well as Curry, I can’t tell you that. But he’s a guy who bounces to practice, likes to practice, loves to play on Saturday, lives for football and is liked by everybody on the team. He’s one of our favorite guys because he’s just such a good person. One of the main reasons he got on the field right away (as a freshman) is because of his enthusiasm. He’s just so pumped up all the time. It doesn’t matter where you see him, if you see him at breakfast at 6:30 in the morning or you’ve finished up a late night practice, he’s bouncing around. He’s enjoying life.”
Schedule: Wake Forest will practice in shells again on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Deacons will practice at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.