Spring Notebook: Swinney Pleased With Clemson's Spirit, Updates Injuries

Brad Senkiw

CLEMSON — Dabo Swinney and the Clemson football team began spring practice Wednesday with great spirit.

Following a loss in the national championship game to LSU on Jan. 13, the Tiger head coach got to put 2019 behind him and get a first look inside the team practice facility of what this group will look like in 2020.

“I really like to turn the page. I like to get back to work,” Swinney said. “My experience as a coach is the longer the gap is, the more you try to do as a coach, I think, the more you get away from fundamentals and technique and quality control and things that you need to do to improve as a team.”

The Tigers worked out indoors for a little over two hours Wednesday, and they’ll be back to work Friday.

“The spirit of the team is great. Our leadership is good,” Swinney said. “I think we’re no question way ahead of where we were day one last spring. It’s really not even in the same hemisphere from where we were in the first practice. So I'm excited about it.”

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence said it's "weird" not having guys from last year and having new players in those first spring meetings, but he likes the 2020 group.

"It's a lot of fun, though, getting back to work and then especially just after last season didn't end the way we wanted," Lawrence said. "It's great to get back out here."

Injury updates

Swinney was without several players Wednesday.

The biggest injury of note is Nolan Turner’s right shoulder. The senior safety had it “cleaned up” recently. He spent Wednesday on an exercise bike on the sideline.

“He could’ve gone through spring and he could’ve done it after spring, but we decided...he’s incredibly knowledgeable and knows what he’s doing so we felt like from a timing standpoint, he had a little shoulder thing that we needed to clean up. If we went ahead and did it he’d be ready for the start of May and really have a full summer. Having him out there leading skills and drills and all that is important.”

Clemson freshman defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, the top player in the 2020 recruiting class, suffered an LCL sprain playing basketball last week and spent Wednesday working off to the side, but it’s not serious, Swinney said.

“He should be fine in a day or so,” Swinney said.

Bresee did not go through drills during the open media portion of practice.

Cornerback Andrew Booth had his knee scoped and was also in a yellow jersey, but Swinney said he’s progressing well and should still get in a lot of work this spring. Offensive lineman Blake Vinson is also working his way back from an injury suffered last season, but Swinney was pleased with his progress.

Position changes

Tayquon Johnson, who came to Clemson has a defensive tackle, has been moved to offensive guard this spring. Swinney said it remains to be seen if the move is permanent, but they’ll try him out on the offensive side of the ball for a while this spring.

“I’m really excited about that for him and for our team,” Swinney said. “He’s unbelievably powerful. He’s one of the strongest kids we’ve had come through here. Based on what we saw in practice we felt like that’s the best place for him.”

Ben Batson, who worked at quarterback last season, moved to safety. It’s something the coaches wanted to do for a while but didn’t have the depth yet.

Also, punter Will Spiers will serve as the “fourth arm” this spring. Swinney said they need four quarterbacks for practice purposes.

Practice fields under renovations

Clemson’s outdoor practice fields are being redone, and Swinney said it’ll be until May 15 before they’re ready. It’ll be in time for summer camps, he added. So the Tigers will work out at the indoor facility for practices this spring and Memorial Stadium for scrimmages.

“We’ve had 300-year rains around here,” Swinney said. “We’re still on schedule right now. It was a long time overdue. It was something that really, really needed to be done. It’s going to be a lot better.”