Who wants to tell him?
Daily Archives: April 18, 2022
Dabo Swinney opened his 14th spring practice as Clemson’s head coach last month by doing something he’d never done before. While addressing his team’s depth on the offensive line — a position group heavily criticized throughout last year’s 10-3 campaign — he revealed that he was actively looking to add a transfer.
Among college coaches, there’s a wide spectrum of willingness to engage in the transfer market, with some wholeheartedly embracing the opportunity to add to their roster and others only dabbling in the portal. Swinney, however, might be the least eager coach in the country when it comes to the portal, recently telling ESPN he planned to use it only as a last resort.
And yet, here he was, hanging the proverbial “help wanted” sign on the door to Clemson’s locker room. In this new era of open transfers, the portal spares no coach.
“The rules have changed, and you don’t have any choice,” Swinney said. “There are no high school kids to get in May, and if you have a gap in your roster, where are you going to go?”
Man, it really sucks when you discover they’re not paying you $9 million a year for your old-school principles.
You know what else sucks? This:
Diaz suggested following more of an NFL model, and instead of holding one long spring contact period, hold intermittent minicamps, where coaches can work directly with their players for several practices over a shorter period of time — including camps during the early summer. By reducing the importance of spring practice and increasing interaction between players and the coaching staff in the summer, Diaz said he assumes fewer players will feel the need to jump into the portal in November with an eye toward practicing in April.
Diaz was quick to note this could disrupt the tradition of spring games and raise objections from coaches worried about injuries — spring offers a longer window to rehab for the season than, say, a June minicamp would — but he said the benefits likely outweigh the drawbacks.
“Likely”, as we say around here, is doing a shit ton of heavy lifting there. Especially when you’re assuming the benefits in the first place.
The portal is driving coaches crazy.
I dunno… I assume the players like this, but it smacks me as trying a little too hard.
Remember, it’s the scanning code on the front of the jersey that counts.
Barrett Sallee wrote that “Georgia might have the best tight end room in college football history”. After watching Gilbert and Delp in the spring game, I’m not sure there’s any hyperbole to that observation.
So, I’ve got two questions:
- If you’re Todd Monken, why wouldn’t you run four-tight end sets in the red zone?
- If you’ve got two unicorn tight ends in Bowers and Gilbert, do you really need a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback?
Can you feel it slipping away?
The control freaks are getting restless.
Dawgs on top, of course.
Seriously, though, it’s a glorified scrimmage, so the danger is reading too much into things like… well, G-Day QBR. Also, for every good play one side makes, it was made at the expense of the other side. Still, there were more than a few takeaways from the afternoon worth noting.
On to the bullet points:
- Arik Gilbert exceeded my already lofty expectations. I was pretty stunned by his showing, not only that he’s a physical specimen, but also, his on-field instincts are off the charts. I already posted about his second touchdown catch, but he showed an ability to beat the coverage to a spot on a regular basis. His blocking still looks rusty, but I’m not going to be too harsh about that, since he’s still got a ways to go with his conditioning. Bottom line, even now he already looks like Georgia’s best red zone receiving threat since AJ Green.
- If I was stunned by Gilbert’s showing, I was thrilled by how good Kearis Jackson looked. He appears 100% healthy, maybe a little faster than before and a fully confident route runner. He lowered my Jermaine Burton departure anxiety considerably.
- Somebody had better figure out how to get Arian Smith 12-15 snaps a game without injury.
- It was good to see Blaylock out there making plays again, although he had the worst whiff of the day on his trick play throw, electing to toss a wounded duck across the field for a pick. Had he looked straight down his side of the field, he would have seen a busted coverage that left Delp wide open by at least 20 yards for what would have been a easy touchdown.
- Speaking of Delp, while he may not have Bowers’ top end speed (what tight end does?), he’s got good hands and balance. He’s gonna be a contributor this season. Still want to see Monken mess with some defensive minds by running 14 formations this season.
- Add it all up, and I can say, barring injuries, I’m not worried about the receivers and tight ends. There are plenty of weapons and an offensive coordinator who knows how to use them.
- Much the same can be said about the running backs. McIntosh, Milton and Edwards all had their moments. It’s also tantalizing to see how they can be used in the passing game.
- I’m not totally sold on the offensive line, more particularly on who will start at the guard positions, though. Truss and Willock had their moments, but I also saw them beaten too often. That being said, it’s a little unfair to judge, given the pass-heavy orientation on the day. (Plus, they weren’t exactly going against a mediocre defensive front.) Let’s just say that I’ll be interested to watch the competition on the o-line come August.
- I’m not gonna lie — I was disappointed in the overall quarterback play. The level of inconsistency, given the number of years they’ve been in the program, was not acceptable. I saw some terrific throws, followed up by incompletions on what should have been easy completions. Stetson struck me as almost lackadaisical at times, locking in on receivers instead of finding the open man, throwing off balance or off his back foot. To be fair, the touch sack format doesn’t let him excel at what he does well, but his focus better be much higher when it counts.
- Beck had his moments, but, again, he missed on some easy throws. And his fall off in the second half when he faced the number ones raised a red flag. He’s improved in a year, but not enough to be a serious challenge to Bennett.
- Vandagriff has talent, but again, lacks consistency. He’s a clear number three right now.
- With all the departed talent, it’s a little weird that I left Sanford Stadium feeling pretty good about the defensive line. That’s mainly because I really liked what I saw from Warren Brinson and Tyrion Ingram-Dawkins. Between them and, of course, Jalen Carter, there’s certainly a high floor from which to construct an effective defensive line.
- To some extent, I could say the same thing about the ILBs. Jamon Dumas-Johnson made his share of plays, although I saw him get out of place in pass coverage on occasion. Trezmen Marshall might have been the most pleasant surprise on the defense Saturday; it seemed like he was making plays all over the field. If I’m not as confident about this group as I am the linemen, it’s because they don’t have a returning stud in their group, like Carter, as an anchor.
- I like what I saw from the cornerbacks as a whole, although I’m not kidding myself about the overall lack of experience there. Ringo and Poole both made plays. I liked what Everette showed, too. And where in the hell did Jehlen Cannady come from? He wasn’t perfect, but he didn’t back down, either. I don’t know whether he’s a legitimate candidate for the two deep, or this year’s G-Day flash in the pan.
- Safeties, on the other hand, are a concern. Smith looks a quarter-step slower and wasn’t on top of coverage plays like he was last season. I assume that’s health related. Jackson was in a white jersey and Monken picked on him all game. I love his moxie, but offenses with speed threats are going to be able to take advantage of his physical limitations. If there’s an area where I expect Smart to dip his toe in the transfer portal waters, it’s here.
Overall, it’s impossible not to notice what a team looks like after five years of top three recruiting classes. There’s a lot of green, to be sure, but damned if there isn’t talent popping up all over the field. That bodes well for the second half of the ’22 season.