Clemson tiger paw

CLEMSON -- With the 2019 season on the horizon, coaches and players at Clemson are working to put the finishing touches on an offseason in which expectations in the spring and summer couldn’t be higher.

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Head coach Dabo Swinney has attempted to temper those lofty predictions by pointing out that the Tigers currently have the same clean slate as every other team in the nation. And co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott punctuated that sentiment after the first of a series of fall practices this past week, noting that the players, like the team at large, have a lot of “potential,” but until they prove it on the field, it is only potential.

“It seems like every year I’m telling these guys that we have the potential to be the best group that we’ve had, and I truly believe that,” Scott said. “The key word is the ‘potential.’ Last year, I really feel like we took a good step forward, and this year, there will be new challenges, and Coach Swinney does a great job of letting everybody know we’ve got to start over. We’ve scored zero touchdowns. We’re going to have a big bull’s eye on our backs. We’ve got to accept that.

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Scott said that, looking at his offensive squad, he is “pleased” with the performance of the players to date.

“I felt like our operation, with our snaps, quarterback-center exchange, the quarterback-running back mesh, throwing and catching was really good for the first day,” he said. “A little bit sluggish. Those guys got about eight-10 days off before coming in here, and (they were) just a little bit sluggish, but that will come with time. But overall, (I’m) really pleased. Looks like an experienced offense coming out here.”

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He said that, in particular, sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence is stepping into his role as a leader behind center.

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“I thought Trevor did a really good job getting opportunities to lead,” Scott said. “He was more vocal today than obviously he would have been last year. Just a completely different scenario.”

In front of Lawrence, the Tigers have a skilled and seasoned group of linemen to run block and protect the quarterback, Scott said, noting he thought the offensive line would be key to Clemson’s success.

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“I told those guys last night in our meeting our best teams and best offenses have been when we’ve had experience, talented guys up front that have really led the way,” he said. “We’ve had skill guys here for the last eight years. Really, what separated our offense is some of those guys up front. (I’m) just really excited about the leadership and experience and talent we have up front.”

Scott said he thought the Tigers have a good mix of experienced leadership and hungry young players to step in to fill roles when the season kicks off.

“I’m very excited about the group,” he said. “I think we’ve got some experienced older guys that have been around and been proven in battles, and then I feel like we’ve got some really good youth that’s going to be able to help us.”

One of those experienced players is senior Diondre Overton, who will likely get more of a chance to contribute in 2019 after junior wide receiver Amari Rodgers suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the spring.

Scott said Overton was among the “most consistent” players in fall practice.

“(I’m) just really proud of how hard he’s worked during his time here,” Scott said. “I think he can do a really good job while Amari’s working his way back.”

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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. He is editor of www.ClemsonMaven.io


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