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SPORTS LIBRARY, Clemson, football

CLEMSON — What does a coach responsible for finding replacements for the greatest defensive line in Clemson football do? He starts changing diapers.

At least, according to head coach Dabo Swinney.

Defensive tackles coach Todd Bates’ wife is currently pregnant with twins, but he has a few big babies needing their diapers changed before he can move on to his own children.

"I told Todd, 'Between them twins at home and all those babies you got here, you're changing a lot of diapers,” Swinney said. “We clean 'em up, put baby powder on 'em, then they just mess all over themselves and we gotta change them again.'"

The good news for the Tigers is their baby defense held its own in Wednesday’s first full scrimmage of the spring — winning the day over an offense that was expected to be unstoppable.

“I thought defensively they had a really good energy today and I thought they won the day,” Swinney said. “Good to see some guys with a little different mindset than I've seen in some of the past competitive situations.

“The flip side, offensively, I just didn't think they had great energy today. I think some of them were already in Cabo or Cancun or whatever cruise boat they are going on. That was the mindset of the offense today. Sloppy. Bad snaps. Drops. Fumbles. Missed throws. Penalties. Just a sloppy day offensively, which is not indicative of how they've practiced.”

The Tiger defense got a spark from an offensive player, wide receiver Derion Kendrick — who has been splitting time at receiver and also helping out a short-handed secondary.

Swinney has been so impressed with Kendrick’s perfomance in the secondary, he could see him playing both ways for the foreseeable future — even after college.

“He’ll be a guy, no matter what, that I could see working some on both sides the rest of his career regardless of what ends up being his so-called ‘home,’” Swinney said. “Right now, his home is wideout, and we’re training him up at DB. If that changes down the road, who knows. He’ll still be a guy that would be in the mix. He’s just too talented of a guy to not take advantage of his skillset.”

Dining on Saban’s dime

The Tigers will break for spring break before reconvening March 25 for their final six practices of the spring.

But the players are not the only ones getting some sun and surf.

Swinney and family will make their annual trek to Boca Grande, Florida, where he will once again dine like a king with someone else picking up the tab.

Swinney and Alabama head coach Nick Saban have had a standing agreement that the winner of games between Clemson and Alabama eats on the losers’ dime. And Swinney is going big this year.

With a check in hand from Saban, Swinney said he will dine on blackened grouper, twice-baked potato and lobster bisque.

"I'm going big, I'm going big. He wrote me a nice note, and I'm looking forward to cashing that in,” Swinney said.

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Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia.

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