Clemson’s Kelly, Cooper defy the odds, but run the risk

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

CLEMSON — Not a thought hurtled through Chad Kelly’s mind. Except for the pain — oh, the searing pain.

When the anterior cruciate ligament in a human knee tears, athletes say it feels like millions of miniature balloons popping in their leg — followed by nothing. Numbness. And the long, long road ahead to recovery.

But something bizarre — mind-boggling, and perhaps even dangerous, scientifically speaking — happened less than five months after Kelly and Sam Cooper were helped off the field and into the dreaded ACL reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation process.

They played in a football game again.

FULL STORY: Defying the odds five months after ACL tears, Clemson’s Kelly, Cooper must take care to protect knees

 

Chad Morris notes: Gallman, Dye likely to redshirt; Darrell Smith’s time to step up at tight end

Chad Morris

BY AARON BRENNER | abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON — For the past week to 10 days, Chad Morris has gone out for a lunchtime jog, and taken note of the students setting up camp surrounding Memorial Stadium.

On Monday, the lines of tents were replaced by lines of fans waiting eagerly to finally pick up their tickets (perhaps skipping class to do so) continued to impress Clemson’s offensive coordinator.

“It says a lot about our university. Just the excitement that our student body brings, they’re passionate and we love it,” Morris said. “We’re gonna need them rockin’ it Saturday night, and they will be. A lot of excitement – you can feel it in the air.”

No. 5 Georgia visits No. 8 Clemson on Saturday night, in case a reminder was needed. Fall camp has given way to game week, after months of anticipation.

“We’ve been studying off last year’s film, and the players that they have returning from last year, they’ve got some really good young talent,” Morris said. “There’s some players that got significant playing time from last year, just maybe weren’t a starter, we’ve got to be aware of. They’re going to come in, and they’re going to be as prepared as they’ve ever been.”

Morris has been asked many times about Georgia’s unknowns on defense, after losing eight players to the NFL draft.

“They play with such a great passion. They’re very well-coached,” Morris said. “They’re going to disguise their coverages. They’re going to bring pressure, just like everybody else does. They’ve got some young guys that are trying to earn their stripes.”

Gallman, Dye likely to redshirt: Morris was the first interview of the week out of the Clemson locker room, and he seemed more sure than ever that he’d prefer to redshirt both the Tigers’ highly-touted freshman rushers.

“That’s the plan going in, but that can change in a hurry,” Morris said. “We’re extremely excited about what Wayne (Gallman) has done during fall camp. He’s available.”

Gallman and Tyshon Dye started August practices strong, but were inconsistent in scrimmages as the season neared closer. Dye’s been battling a back injury, but even Gallman may have failed in his quest to crack the running rotation.

The only way Morris would see the redshirt being removed – once a first-year player is on the field and the ball is snapped, he loses his redshirt – would be significant injury to one of the top three backs: Roderick McDowell, Zac Brooks or walk-on C.J. Davidson. A series or even a whole game, to Morris, wouldn’t constitute a significant injury.

If Morris does change his mind?

“You and I will know about the same time,” Morris said. “I might may know a little bit earlier than you do, just about a step earlier, that’s about it. There he goes, when I’m the first one sending him in.

“He will be ready to play, I’ll tell you that. But we would like to hold him if we possibly could.”

Rookie wide receivers Mike Williams and T.J. Green are likely to play this season.

Patchwork plans: Since Sam Cooper tore his ACL in the spring game and Jordan Leggett is extremely doubtful for the Georgia game with a knee injury, converted fullback Darrell Smith is the de facto starter at tight end opening the season.

A fifth-year senior whose contributions have largely been through leadership than on-field production, Smith has the trust of his offensive coordinator.

“We feel like Darrell Smith is as good a football player as we’ve got,” Morris said. “He’s physical, he’s got good speed, and really good hands.”

As for Leggett’s status, Morris said “it’s hard to say right now. I don’t think anybody’s ruled that out as of today.” Leggett injured his MCL on Aug. 14, and the initial prognosis was three to four weeks recovery, but he’s been running and cutting in practice.

Morris insisted he’s “not really” concerned with the depth at tight end; Stanton Seckinger and Jay Jay McCullough add healthy options.

“Those guys, hey, they’ve got a scholarship,” Morris said. “They’re going to have to go earn it. We’re asking Darrell Smith, he’s a senior, and this is his time.”

Comeback kids: It’s a little bit unthinkable that Cooper and quarterback Chad Kelly, four and a half months removed from ACL reconstructive surgery, could play in 2013.

Kelly’s return would be a welcome development for Morris, at least to add quarterback depth. He participated in the Tigers’ latest scrimmage Friday.

“For him to be available is remarkable,” Morris said. “Those guys have been working extremely hard, though. They’ve been able to get out there and go through drill work. It says a lot about our training staff, and about Chad and Sam and the dedication they put in this summer.”

Battle backup: Isaiah Battle will be the next man in at offensive tackle, no matter what.

Morris said Battle, who’s listed as left tackle Brandon Thomas’ backup, would still play left tackle is Gifford Timothy went down – in which case Thomas would slide over to right tackle.

Injury report: On Clemson’s official press release, five players are listed as ‘out’ for the Georgia game: Dye (back), Cooper (knee), cornerback Mackensie Alexander (groin), offensive lineman Joe Gore (knee) and defensive tackle Scott Pagano (ankle).

Leggett (knee) and defensive back Jayron Kearse (shoulder) are listed as questionable. Kelly (knee) is probable to dress, though it’s unclear whether he’d get the call if top quarterbacks Tajh Boyd and Cole Stoudt were both unavailable.

Back To The Future, Part V: The Good, The Bad, The Noteworthy from Georgia Tech (plus Boston College preview)

Sammy Watkins

BY AARON BRENNER | abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON – Payback was sweet, wasn’t it?

Georgia Tech will always give Clemson a tough game, but at least the Yellow Jackets didn’t ruin a good thing this time around.

Clemson garnered revenge with a 47-31 hardfought victory in the 2012 edition of this rivalry, a year after Georgia Tech ended the Tigers’ bid at an undefeated season.

Wanna watch the video? Here it is if you wanna try to follow along.

This is the fifth installment of our new biweekly feature on PostandCourier.com and the TigerTracks blog this summer. I’ll provide a glimpse to the past – evaluating throwback tape from each 2012 game – as well as one into the future, looking ahead to whichever opponent awaits correlating to that game.

This is a way to utilize what we’ve learned about the returning Tigers and how they’ll fit in with the 2013 team, which is why you won’t read a ton of elaboration on guys who are gone (Andre Ellington, Malliciah Goodman, etc.)

One way to differentiate you should know: Clemson players will be listed with abbreviated positions and listed in bold. Opposing players will be preceded by full positions and not in bold.

(So: QB Tajh Boyd … quarterback Tevin Washington.)

Continue reading

Counting down Clemson’s most valuable players in 2013: No. 10 TE Jordan Leggett

Jordan Leggett

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. 10 MOST VALUABLE PLAYER:
JORDAN LEGGETT, FRESHMAN, TIGHT END

Here’s a few things you ought to know about the relationship between Clemson and the tight end. A tight end has ranked among the team’s top three receiving leaders each of the past four years; no other ACC team, incumbent or incoming, can say that for just the past two years. With Tajh Boyd at quarterback, Clemson tight ends hauled in 21 touchdowns in 2011-12; the next-nearest ACC group is Syracuse’s 10 scores over the past two years combined, which doesn’t equal the Tigers’ total of 11 last fall.

LeggettJordanSo if you gave offensive coordinator Chad Morris the option of playing two-hand-touch in the spring game and therefore not losing presumed starter Sam Cooper for the year to a torn ACL, he snatches the opportunity without blinking. Somebody’s got to be the next stud in line behind Michael Palmer, Dwayne Allen and Brandon Ford – Allen and Ford recorded eight TDs a piece in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The options are Stanton Seckinger, who’s really built more like receiver, redshirt freshman Jay Jay McCullough, and … Jordan Leggett. Don’t underestimate the value of getting  a headstart on absorbing the complex playbook of Morris – who, by the way, was Leggett’s primary recruiter. He’s already got the proper body to pound in the ACC, so if he fine-tunes his route-running, look for Boyd to look for Leggett often in 3rd-down and red-zone packages.
-Aaron Brenner

JORDAN LEGGETT
Position: Tight end
Year: Freshman
Height/weight: 6-6/235
Hometown: Navarre, Fla.
Last year: Three-star prospect enrolled in January, giving him a full spring to work out with the Tigers

Previously: No. 12 Jr. DT Grady Jarrett, No. 11 Jr. LB Stephone Anthony
COMING SATURDAY: No. 9