Swinney 'Thankful' For Clemson's Spring Work
The effect of little or no spring practice on the 2020 college football season will be measured in due time.
For now, coaches are left trying to figure out what they can take from what they did.
Clemson was able to get nine full practices in before the COVID-19 outbreak halted all on-field activities and eventually shut down the campus. That's more work than all of the Tigers' 2020 opponents, both within the ACC and outside of the conference.
"We're fortunate than most," Swinney said in a video released by the university Wednesday. "We were able to have nine practices. We had a full scrimmage. We had a lot of meetings. Obviously 15 midyears got a good start, even though they're back home now. But we're very fortunate and feel good about where we are from a football standpoint. We're just going to carry on, business as usual."
Swinney saw improvements from Day 1 through Day 9, and getting a "very competitive" scrimmage inside Death Valley right before Clemson's broke for spring break proved instrumental. It was the last time the Tigers took the field, and it showed Swinney that his team was ahead of where they were a year ago.
"We had our Pro Day, a couple junior days. I'm very thankful for what we were able to do," Swinney said.
The Tigers came into the spring with areas that needed work. Offensively, Clemson is replacing four starters on the offensive line, and while they found their starting unit right away, they were in the process of developing depth behind the first five.
Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott was looking to get better on third downs and in the red zone. The defense was figuring out who's going to replace star players Isaiah Simmons and A.J Terrell at linebacker and cornerback, respectively.
And there are those 15 talented early enrollees that excited Swinney. While highly-regarded recruits Bryan Bresee, Myles Murphy and D.J. Uiagalelei got nine opportunities to show coaches what they're capable of doing in 2020 and beyond, Swinney said the staff had to "slow install down some" after the newcomers "hit a wall."
Ultimately, Clemson would've benefited greatly from five more practices and a spring game. It's unknown if there will be any way to make those up, but with football put on hold for now, Swinney believes his program is still on solid ground in terms of the 2020 season.
"I just view being at Clemson being a competitive advantage, to be honest with you, whether we had spring practice or not, because we have great people," Swinney said. "Whether you had 10 practices or no practices, but it is a blessing for sure. I am thankful we are able to get nine good days."