BY AARON BRENNER | firstname.lastname@example.org
SUNSET, S.C. – Dabo Swinney walked up to his starting quarterback, and showed Tajh Boyd a magazine with Tajh Boyd pictured on the cover.
And the reigning ACC Player of the Year watched as his head coach placed it in the trash.
Fond memories of yesterday’s success can’t so easily be thrown away. But Swinney’s message to Boyd – and his entire team saddled with mammoth expectations – was clear.
The Tigers are 0-0. Just like everybody else.
“Past success,” Swinney reasoned, “doesn’t guarantee future success.”
This offseason was a little different from the previous one. Take the defense. An enjoyable ride to the Orange Bowl only paved the road for embarrassment, a 70-33 implosion at the hands of West Virginia costing then-defensive coordinator Kevin Steele his job.
In particular, Swinney singled out the defensive line.
“Coach Swinney helped motivate my group. He told the whole football team we were the weak link of the team,” defensive tackles coach Dan Brooks recalled, speaking Tuesday at The Reserve before Swinney’s summer golf outing. “So I wrote that real big on the board, and we kept it there all year. That kind of got under their skin a little bit, and mine.”
“But it was good. It was good to see them grow up a little bit.”
The defense turned around under new boss Brent Venables, allowing a respectable 24.8 points per game. However, the goals are set even higher, now that returning players are used to Venables’ menacing style.
“I feel like there’s more comfort level with everybody,” Venables said. “From how I teach, to schemes, language, verbiage and how we go about practice … I think it was a more efficient spring.”
Brooks was a fan of his squad’s mentality during spring, the last extended time coaches have spent with players.
“Nobody seemed entitled, like we’ve arrived. They came back to work,” Brooks said. “They came back and went about their business. You’ve got to be able to handle adversity and handle success, and they did that.”
Check back for much more coverage from Tuesday’s sitdown with assistant coaches later today at the Tiger Tracks blog and PostandCourier.com