Opening Statements: Dabo Swinney previews spring practices, QB battle

BY AARON BRENNER
abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON – ‘Compete’ is Dabo Swinney’s word of the spring. Everybody else digs a little deeper in the dictionary.

Quarterback.

It’s the word on everybody’s mind: all the media in the WestZone Club team room at Tuesday’s press conference, all the fans hanging on every word said in that 1-hour, 1-minute dissertation leading into Clemson’s 15 spring practices, and yeah, the guy delivering that presentation as well.

No more Tajh Boyd. So who’s it gonna be? Cole Stoudt, Chad Kelly or Deshaun Watson? And in that same breath, who replaces wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant and tailback Roderick McDowell?

“Obviously the big question for everybody sitting in this room and probably everybody outside this room is who’s throwing it, who’s running it, and who’s catching it,” Swinney said. “For the last several years around here, everybody’s been knowing who’s going to throw it, run it and catch it.”

Four Tigers, including three from Georgia, suspended for UGa opener

It’s Clemson’s first spring tussle for the top job as field general since Kyle Parker and Willy Korn duked it out five years ago.

“It’s a situation where everybody respects the fact that, hey, this guy wants to be the guy, that guy wants to be the guy,” Swinney said. “It’s going to be fun to watch it take place. Everything counts. It’s going to be incredibly competitive. It’s not a situation where we don’t have talent at that position. … For us, who gives us the best chance to win on Saturdays right now? That’s the process we’ve got to sort out.”

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Four Tigers, including starter Crawford, suspended for 2014 opener at Georgia

BY AARON BRENNER
abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON — Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney announced at his pre-spring press conference Tuesday that four players will sit out the 2014 opener at Georgia.

Defensive end Corey Crawford, offensive tackle Shaq Anthony, offensive guard David Beasley and cornerback Garry Peters have been suspended for the Aug. 30 trip to Athens for a violation of team rules. Swinney emphasized none of those players were arrested.

“These guys have not robbed a bank. These are four really good young men, to be quite honest with you. Four guys that I love and care about a whole lot,” Swinney said. “But they broke a team rule, it’s just that simple. As a result, they’re going to miss a game.”

Three of the four players are originally from Georgia and will miss a chance to play their home-state Bulldogs. Crawford and Beasley were high school teammates at Carver (Columbus, Ga.) and were in the Tigers’ recruiting class of 2010. Peters is from Conyers, Ga., just 45 miles southwest of Athens.

Crawford started all 12 games last year, and his 10.5 tackles for loss ranked fourth on the Tigers. Beasley played in all 13 games last year, starting seven at left guard. Anthony played in 10 games and started three at right tackle, while Peters appeared in 10 games as a reserve cornerback.

“A huge part of our program is teaching accountability, teaching responsibility, and that there’s consequences for your actions. It’s really just that simple,” Swinney said. “But I am very confident that all four of these guys will learn and grow from this, and go on and have a great 2014 season, both on and off the season.”

Despite bounceback season, Clemson basketball attendance has dwindled considerably

BY AARON BRENNER
abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

Brad BrownellCLEMSON – Brad Brownell did his homework before taking the job, making sure Clemson was the right place to launch his major-conference head coaching career. He felt assured Littlejohn Coliseum could be just like the Field of Dreams.

If you build it – build a winning program, that is, not just a glittering building (that’s two years away) – they will come.

“There (have been) periods of success in Clemson basketball; when there is success, the fans come out and support it,” Brownell said Jan. 11, in postgame interviews after Clemson beat Duke in Littlejohn’s most raucous environment all year. “It’s a tough place to play. I don’t know that you can be consistently successful unless your fan base cares about your team.”

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“That’s the dumbest rule”: Swinney sounds off to ESPN on 10-second proposal

Dabo Swinney

BY AARON BRENNER
abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON – The recently suggested NCAA rule change to prohibit snapping the football within the first 10 seconds of the play clock had to be met with a series of emotions and facial expressions among Clemson’s coaching staff.

Smirks. Chuckles. A guffaw, perhaps. Maybe a slight hint of concern, if this widely-rebuked rule proposal actually goes into effect during the NCAA Player Rules Oversight Panel’s vote, tentatively slated for March 6.

ESPN.com conducted a poll of the 128 Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches, and reported that only 25 were in favor of the red-light offense.

A shocking development to absolutely nobody: Dabo Swinney, who bears Chad Morris as his offensive coordinator, was one of the 103. In 2013, Clemson averaged 79.8 snaps per game, ranking eighth in the nation. Clemson’s 81.7 snaps per game in 2012, and 75.4 in 2011, also ranked eighth those respective years.

“That’s the dumbest rule,” Swinney told ESPN.com, reported Wednesday. “That rule right there reminds me of public reaction people had when they put in the forward pass. It’s just the craziest thing. That makes no sense, and to hide behind player safety is wrong, because it’s just not factual.”

Under the proposed rule, if the offense snaps the ball with 30 or more seconds left on the play clock, it would be penalized five yards for delay-of-game. Currently, the defense is only assured a chance to substitute when at least one offensive player does so.

Swinney holds a press conference Tuesday afternoon to preview the Tigers’ set of 15 spring practices, which begin Wednesday.

Read the rest here: Saban, Bielema proponents of slow-it-down style

Bryant baaaaaarely beats Watkins, by 1/100ths of a second

BY AARON BRENNER
abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

INDIANAPOLIS — For the rest of their lives, Clemson’s Martavis Bryant can hang with Sammy Watkins, extend his hand with his thumb and index finger squeezed to nearly touch each other, and remind his All-American teammate of eternal bragging rights.

Bryant posted a 4.42-second 40-yard-dash Sunday, good for sixth among wide receivers at the NFL Scouting Combine. Right behind him was Watkins, at 4.43.

South Carolina product Bruce Ellington, Watkins’ new friend and training partner, wasn’t far back, tied for 11th with a 4.45-second mark.

Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, who beat out Watkins for the 2013 Biletkinoff Award as the nation’s top receiver, won the overall race with a 4.33-second time.