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Day 2: nuggets from the practice

These are some nuggets Fred and I picked up on inside the third practice at the Georgia Dome. A gallery of pictures will go up shortly with some nice and bigger shots for y'all.

Clemson working hard on special teams for the upcoming Chick-Fil-A Bowl in the Georgia Dome today.

Cory Fravel

-One thing you pick up on right away is Clemson knows the gravity of this game, who they are playing and what they are about. Never will you hear the words "physical" be mentioned so many times in talking about an opponent. Call it maturity but Clemson seems comfortable in their own skin. Clemson looks like they belong.

Everyone around the staff is well aware how and why they lost to FSU and South Carolina. I say that because LSU is brought up as a similar foe. Sometimes failure is underestimated; great teams and champions fail before they go on to rule except for athletes like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan who seemingly transcended their sport right away.

How much has Clemson learned over the last year? This team appears more mature. Monday night Clemson will need that maturity from games past. This LSU team is a stiff test.

You have to go way back to find a tougher team any Clemson team has played. I personally think Clemson will need to see the game in slow motion Monday night. This is something that happens to football players when they are able to read and react effectively. When things go awry in sports it's usually because things are happening to fast and hasty decisions are made.The team that wins this bowl game will win because of it's mental toughness and resiliency.

-The work with defensive backs is much more physical in that there is a lot of jamming off the line of scrimmage and work on finding the ball in the air.
-Offensive line Robbie Caldwell is a born teacher. His constant and methodical method of teaching fundamentals is old school and great to see.
-Side note: If and when Spencer Region is turned loose in to the wild he will wreck shop and bang heads. This kid is full of intensity.
-There is a lot of work being done with Andre Ellington, Hot Rod McDowell and DJ Howard in the passing game. This is a great sign for Clemson fans.
-In kickoff returns Sammy Watkins, Nuk Hopkins, Charone Peake and Jaron Brown could all be seen returning kicks. Adam Humphries continues to work at returning punts.
-Defensive coordinator Brent Venables spent a lot of time of down and distance situations with his defense. He also spent a lot of time teaching the linebackers that were not in play.
-The defensive line spent a lot of time working on penetration in to the backfield both running and passing. Freshman D.J. Reader is going to be a special player before he leaves Clemson. Carlos Watkins is looking good too; look for him to have a good year next year.

Fred Vickers

- Practice was much more situational today
- Defense was intense working on goal line and third and short situations.
- Special Teams work very intense. The returners were hitting the holes quickly.
- Kickoffs and punt teams looked very good.
- Offense worked on hitting the running back on the option route out of the backfield.
- Safeties worked on route recognition.
- Safeties also worked on spotting ball and getting it at highest point.
- Defensive line work very intense, almost full contact.
- Have to say, Robbie Caldwell is probably my favorite coach on the staff
Caldwell coaches with more fire than anyone on the staff, its very fun to watch him and hear him work the guys.
- Once again impressed with Tajh Boyd, its like he comes to work everyday and goes through every drill at the same speed and makes it look easy.
- Wideouts worked on fade pattern to back of endzone.
- First time really seeing Brent Venables live, he has a lot of fire and I truly think he is an asset to Clemson and will get the Tiger defense to where it needs to be.
- Chad Morris is easy going and loosey goosey....guy is very confident and knows, without a doubt, what he is doing and what he wants his offense to do.

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