Dabo Swinney previews spring ball

I know, I know, Clemson overload today, but coach Dabo Swinney had a teleconference this morning to preview spring practices, which begin on Wednesday in Death Valley. Here are a few quick highlights from the call:

  • Swinney said the main point of emphasis this spring will be the offensive and defensive lines, where the Tigers have to replace a total of six starters. The goal is to find a two-deep up front. He said offensive lineman Brandon Thomas has been like an MVP this offseason and has embraced a leadership role. “He has been great this offseason,” Swinney said. “He has really stepped up in a role he wasn’t necessarily in last year, and we need that.” Thomas can play tackle or guard effectively, and gives the Tigers some options up front. Swinney said Tyler Shatley, a former defensive tackle, looks “totally different” on the offensive side of the ball. “He goes from being an OK athlete to a really, really good athlete.” Shatley will start off at right guard.

  • The only two injured players out this spring are linebacker Tony Steward and safety Rashard Hall. Steward, who tore his ACL in October, was denied a medical redshirt, Swinney said. “That’s the rule and that’s the way it is,” Swinney said. Steward will be a true sophomore.

  • The punter situation is a question going into spring. Spencer Benton will go in as the starter. Swinney said the staff will experiment with a few things on special teams this spring.

  • Clemson’s staff took a trip to Nevada this offseason to study the pistol offense, but Swinney said the Tigers were in the pistol some last spring and fall. The staff just wanted to learn a little more about it. As for how much of it will be incorporated this year, Swinney said he’s not going to give out a blueprint. “We’re going to do what we did last year, hopefully a little bit better.”

  • Swinney said running back Mike Bellamy is “hanging in there” and will practice with the team while trying to improve himself on and off the field. Swinney said Bellamy has gained some weight and gotten stronger. The goal for this summer is about 180 pounds, well over the 160 he came in at.