CLEMSON— The danger is complacency for a team that is coming off a second national title in the last three seasons and is the favorite to repeat the following season.
That feeling of being able to simply show up and win every game because of the name on your jersey will emerge. That the players, with warmer temperatures coming and the grass turning greener, will not be as engaged in the process. That the players will not show the sense of urgency required to, once again, climb to the pinnacle of college football.
But that simply is not the case through the Clemson Tigers’ first eight spring practices. In fact, they are hungry, ready and eager to learn — exactly what head coach Dabo Swinney wants to see out of his team.
“We have a long way to go, but I love the energy,” Swinney said. “That is the biggest thing to me is just getting them to come out here with purpose and energy every day and enthusiasm to get better. And we are getting better. Every two good plays, we have three bad ones, but they are making really good progress because we have a bunch of guys that are not afraid to fail. They are not out here being tentative. They are bringing the energy and the effort that we need.”
The Tigers have had to bring “the energy” every day in a variety of circumstances because of the sheer amount of rain that has fallen this winter in Clemson.
That rain has forced the Tigers inside for all but two of their first eight practices this spring.
“We have been outside twice. It has rained twice this winter — once for 20 days and once for 15. I mean it is unbelievable,” Swinney said. “It has been a mess. We are so lucky to get in the work we've been getting. We've got a long way to go, but I love the energy.
“What great ingredients. We just have to put it altogether.”
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The Tigers secondary has been so short-handed this spring that Swinney has been moving some offensive players to defensive back to “save (the) legs” of some of the defenders.
But help is, hopefully, on the way.
The Tigers were hoping to get Kyler McMichael, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury, and Mario Goodrich, who has been dealing with a foot injury, back for Monday’s practice.
The Clemson Tigers’ annual Orange and White game will take place inside Death Valley on April 6 (2:30 p.m.) and will be televised nationally on ESPN 2.
The Tigers will be the only ACC team to be featured on the ESPN family of networks, as Duke, Boston College, N.C. State, Florida State, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia will all be televised online on the ACC Network Extra.
Clemson is currently the No. 1 team in the nation, according to ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 heading into the 2019 season and returns 17 starters to its team for the 2019 season—and boasts the No. 10 recruiting class in the country according to ESPN.com’s RecruitingNation.