Tigers are a "long way from game ready"

The 2019 Clemson Tigers wrapped up their spring practice season Saturday, but after 15 practices what did Swinney learn?

CLEMSON— The Clemson Tigers closed out their spring practice session Saturday with the annual Orange and White game. 

Now with no more practices until the Tigers reconvene as a full team in August, the Tigers believe that they learned enough about themselves over the last 15 practices to be a pretty good team come the fall—if they do what is asked of them.

“It was a lot of fun and a great, the last day of evaluation it is, it's one of 15 days so they all count,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “But it was the last day of our evaluation as we go into our exit meetings and really player evals over these next few weeks. 

“We got lots to do over these next four-and-a-half months and a lot of it's going to have to be player driven. It's cause I'm, someone's just going to come and give them the information and some of them have to take ownership of what they've got to do and that's our job. We've got to kind of be very truthful and honest where these guys are, give them the information in the plan to go execute, to transform as we say, and then come back a better version of themselves and August.”

One of the biggest areas that Swinney saw growth this spring was in his defensive line that was tasked with replacing four starters off last year’s national championship squad.

But the growth that he saw in the 15 days of practice left Swinney feeling a little more at ease than he was when the Tigers’ opened camp.

“I mean literally…the first day I looked at the different, I'm like, who can't one that guy out there first, he just got here last week. Surely we have somebody on this team that can run out there first,” Swinney said. “But that was where we are. So we, it was, it was a little ugly early, but I thought we finished well. I mean if you really watched today, I mean I thought they held their own. I mean it wasn't, it wasn't sloppy and it wasn't, the guys have improved.

I'm really pleased with, it's really (defensive tackle coach)Todd (Bates). Todd’s got a huge job. Y…All those guys, I think we've done a nice job. We just, we're just developing identity and leadership at that spot… I'm very encouraged by what took place.”

As encouraged as Swinney was at the end of the spring practice, he understands that the 2019 Clemson football team is still a long way from being ready to defend their national championship—but the good news is they still have time to get ready.

"So we got a lot to, yeah, we're long way away from being a game ready team, but we just put the team like that and you know, to see good competition in good plays on both sides,” Swinney said. “I think about putting it together. I can give you a chance. We've got everything we need to be a successful team, but I was still a lot of work to do.”