The good, the bad and the ugly...
Nick Schuessler opened some eyes at the spring game with his play.
The first thing that comes to mind is, it's over and there are no more injuries.. I was around the 20 yard line talking to NFL legend Jim Kelly when Sam Cooper went down then Chad Kelly with the knee injuries. You hate to see these kids get injured at all but especially in a scrimmage.
Jordan Leggett can play and he's still a pup. Leggett's athleticism garnered him a 51 yard touchdown and a solid performance overall. Leggett's a threat to be tight end but also a guy hybrid guy in space creating matchup problems for linebackers.
With Sam Cooper down for ACL surgery I think Leggett's role increases and the likelihood of him red shirting are slim. Leggett has gained 15 pounds of muscle since enrolling early and I expect more by the start of fall camp.
Darius Robinson has a new number and a new attitude. He looks like a different player than what we saw last season. At times last season he looked lost and couldn't find the ball in the air. Now under new secondary coach Mike Reed's watch he is starting to show he can help this team. Robinson was more physically aggressive, had better technique and better awareness for spring ball.
Eric Mac Clain is going to help this Clemson offensive line. Several times today he came from the field receiving high praise from Chad Morris. Mac Clain had a great spring and looks like he'll be a solid contributor to the offensive line.
Martavis Bryant several times today torched any and everyone trying to cover him. It's a lot to ask anyone to cover Bryant one on one. Bryant is smiling again, he's having fun again. If Bryant continues this trek through the summer and fall he's a dangerous weapon in the Clemson offense. With much of the focus on Sammy Watkins by opposing defenses Bryant will benefit and punish opposing defensive backs trying to cover him.
I spoke with Sammy Watkins after practice and asked what and why he'd done in the offseason. Watkins said he gained 10 pounds of muscle. Watkins said last season "at times I felt weak. I had to get stronger for this season" A humble answer by a humble guy. I think you can mark it down, Watkins will have a huge junior year. I see no reason he can't have a year like DeAndre Hopkins did last year.
Sammy Watkins added 10 pounds of muscle is now 210 pounds.
Nick Schuessler can play. Schuessler played Saturday like he wanted someone's job. He Mississippi State transfer is proving Robert Nkemdiche isn't the only kid in Grayson who can play football.
Kellen Jones emerged this spring. He reminds you of the tough, aggressive Clemson linebackers of old. Great instinct and physicality make Jones a playmaker for Clemson on defense. I've been told Jones is a "tree shaker" Venables wants to get him in Dime situations this fall to help make plays. Watching Jones play its hard not to like what he brings to the table.
Clemson is low on numbers at quarterback with Chad Kelly out. The Tigers QB corp will all have to step up. Very capable backups in Cole Stoudt and Nick Shuessler will man the ship in fall camp. Keeping the Clemson quarterbacks healthy this season is now at a premium.
Dropped balls were a topic on and off all spring when talking with Chad Morris. Saturday it reared its head again. To make the run Clemson wants to make this fall mistakes like this have to be cleaned up.
Isaiah Battle looked great in the bowl game against LSU. Time and again Chad Morris told us "I can want it but if he doesn't want it it doesn't matter" speaking of Battle. The summer and fall camp will be important for Battle to lock down his position.
D.J. Howard will go in fall camp with Rod McDowell, and Zac Brooks ahead of him. Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman will enter the fold in August now too. Chad Morris told us after practice Howard "has to come on now" Howard has big time competition ahead of him and more on the way. Will Howard answer the bell?
Could Germone Hopper be a spark in the return game.
Chad Morris told us through the spring Kalon Davis and David Beasley had some work to do this summer. In fact Morris didn't mix words when he said both were "entirely too heavy" This tells you all you need to know.
Clemson had an outstanding year in the field goal department in 2012. What the Tigers struggled mightily in was kick return defense. Ranked 105th in kick return defense Clemson has a huge opportunity to improve this.
Making the opponent start closer to the 20 yard line makes the Clemson offense more potent if the Tiger defense forces a three and out. Clemson ranked 81st in kick returns in 2012. If the Tigers can get inside the top 50 this means better field position and more opportunities for this potent offense to score.