7 at 7: Seven reactions from Dabo Swinney, who’s “tired of that storyline” of Clemson’s inconsistency

Dabo Swinney

BY AARON BRENNER | abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner | Tiger Tracks on Facebook

CLEMSON – Seven topics touched on by head coach Dabo Swinney in the 24 hours after No. 8 Clemson’s 38-35 epic victory over No. 5 Georgia, and we start with a passionate plea Swinney clearly wanted to throw off his chest …

1) It was a simple, fair question. Does becoming the first non-SEC team to win two consecutive games against SEC opponents ranked in the top ten in college football history dispel the notion that Clemson underachieves?

Well, it’s an unfair question in that upsets are par for the course in college football. It’s fair in that Clemson has been unable to fulfill expectations in the past, and in sports, picking nits is part of the deal.

Anyway, Swinney went off.

“Yeah, well, I don’t get that. Y’all need to start writing something different. People, whoever covers us, need to start asking different questions,” Swinney said, with ire in his voice as the clock pushed past 1 a.m. Sunday.

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Practice report: Clemson plows through the injury bug

Martin Jenkins

BY AARON BRENNER | abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON – The injured list continues to shrink and grow by the day for Clemson; while some guys return, others go down with a groin or a hamstring or a buttock. (Yes, you read correctly. Hold your questions for a minute.)

If it’s any consolation – not that pain and suffering should be taken lightly – Georgia’s dealing with more of the same. Literally: more.

Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph – who you’ll hear from frequently the week leading up to Aug. 31 – has an exhaustive report on the nicks and dings ravaging the Bulldogs’ depth chart during fall camp.

Even as the Tigers go through scrimmages with four available cornerbacks, while the wide receivers conduct a conga line through the trainer’s room, head coach Dabo Swinney isn’t about to coddle the Tigers.

“I don’t think you can practice scared,” Swinney said Monday at noon following a morning session, and seven hours before an evening practice.

Two-a-days proceed as scheduled.

“We’ve got a well-thought-out plan of preparation, and we’ve got to execute our plan. There’s no other way to get your team ready, especially if you aren’t opening with a team like Georgia, then maybe you can pace some guys a little bit differently.”

Full story: Targeting, ejections a jarring concern for defenses

Once fall camp transitions into game week, the Tigers will throttle back. But not with 19 days to go before the opener.

“There’s a few guys you can probably hold here and there in some spots,” Swinney said. “But at this point, it’s way too early for that. You’ve got to go through it.”

The latest batch is improving, on the bright side. Cornerback Garry Peters was “full-go” Monday; cornerbacks Darius Robinson (concussion) and Mackensie Alexander (groin) were confidently rehabbing, with hopes of a midweek return; and cornerback Adrian Baker has an MRI for his knee scheduled this afternoon, though there doesn’t appear to have structural damage in any ligaments and can put weight on the leg.

Then there’s cornerback Martin Jenkins, who took a medical redshirt last year with hernia surgery. He’s got an even more unique injury in camp.

“Martin has … I don’t know a better way to say it … but he’s got an arthritic deal in his butt. I don’t know how else to say it,” Swinney said. “It’s genetic. His dad had the same thing. It’s a matter of trying to get the right medication, and trying to get the dosage right to where he can go.”

Jenkins was able to go through team drills and 1-on-1 drills Monday morning.

“(The trainers) feel like they’ve got a good plan in place, and he was able to do more today than he’s been able to do,” Swinney said. “It can be treated and it can get better. It’s just a matter of when.”

Wide receiver T.J. Green, who avoided an ACL scare last week, could return sometime this week. Martavis Bryant and Adam Humphries have bolstered the position’s depth by returning.

Maybe if the Tigers were opening against, say, Florida Atlantic and Georgia Southern, it’d be different.

“There’s no way to prepare our team for what they’re going to face than try to create that type of atmosphere on your practice field every day,” Swinney said. “If you don’t, then you’re not giving them a chance; you’re doing them a disservice.

“Right now is the time to push. We’ll pull back and start working on their legs as we start shifting focusing on Georgia. But right now, it’s all about Clemson. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of the deal.”

Practice notes: Robinson tweaks ankle, two leave program

BY AARON BRENNER | abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON — Nothing serious so far, but a few Clemson players are already feeling the effects of training camp injuries.

Add senior cornerback Darius Robinson to the list, who sat out Monday night’s practice after twisting his ankle Saturday. Robinson will battle Martin Jenkins for a starting cornerback position.

Wide receiver Mike Williams and cornerback Mackensie Alexander, both freshmen, each pulled a groin last week, and junior receiver Adam Humphries pulled a hamstring. All three missed Monday’s practice.

The quartet of hobbled players is expected to return to the field before the end of the week. Offensive guard Spencer Region continues to work his way back from hip surgery.

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Counting down Clemson’s most valuable players in 2013: No. 8 CB Mackensie Alexander

Mackensie Alexander

Photo courtesy of 247Sports.com

BY AARON BRENNER AND DARRYL SLATER
abrenner@postandcourier.com and dslater@postandcourier.com

To help get you through college football’s slow days of late June and early July — before conference media days launch the preseason festivities — we’re counting down the 12 most important South Carolina Gamecocks and 12 most important Clemson Tigers for 2013. One Gamecock and one Tiger every day, so you can spend part of your summer studying the players who will make a difference for your team come autumn. 

CLEMSON’S NO. 8 MOST VALUABLE PLAYER:
MACKENSIE ALEXANDER, FRESHMAN, CORNERBACK

Clemson’s recruiting class of 2010 featured Bashaud Breeland, Martin Jenkins, Garry Peters and Darius Robinson. Only Breeland was a four-star prospect per Scout.com; the others were three stars. All four are between 5-10 and 6-foot tall; all four are between 175 and 195 pounds.Peters had plenty of opportunities in last year’s repaired defense, in part because Breeland, Jenkins and Robinson all combatted injury.Breeland did have two interceptions for 93 yards total in the 2011 season; other than that, the quartet has a combined four picks for eight return yards, with one fumble recovery and no forced fumbles, in 97 career games. Seven turnovers in 97 games. None are what you would call, based on their collective track record, an impact player at cornerback.

Mackensie AlexanderEnter Alexander in 2013, who very nearly went to defensive back-rich Mississippi State and also flirted with Auburn and Florida State following his decommitment from Tennessee.

It’s completely reasonable Alexander cracks the lineup early in his rookie year, perhaps even from day one. (LSU’s defense does just fine installing young corners.) Not only can Alexander make plays, he’s a gifted cover corner and tackler, which is notable as the Tigers look to boost their 73rd-rated pass defense.

Don’t forget Alexander’s name among special teams contributors, as well.
-Aaron Brenner

Mackensie Alexander
Position: Cornerback
Year: Freshman
Height/weight: 5-11/185
Hometown: Immokalee, Fla.
Last year: The No. 4-rated prospect in the country by ESPN’s recruiting services, the highest rating by a Clemson commit since defensive end Da’Quan Bowers in 2008

Previously: No. 12 Jr. DT Grady Jarrett, No. 11 Jr. LB Stephone Anthony, No. 10 Fr. TE Jordan Leggett, No. 8 Jr. RT Gifford Timothy

COMING MONDAY: No. 7