Clemson football camp continued Monday with the Tigers opening up a second practice to the media ahead of their Sept. 5 season opener.
Here are some quick observations from the first seven periods of practice, Clemson’s third overall this preseason.
Wide receiver Joseph Ngata joined wide receiver Adam Randall (recovering from torn ACL) as scholarship players limited in practice Monday. Both wore yellow jerseys. Wide receiver Troy Stellato (hamstring) was a full participant after being limited Friday.
Clemson’s quarterback uncorked a few deep balls to each other, and to receivers, during drills. Doing it in pads or in a scrimmage is a different story, but backup quarterback Cade Klubnik has a crisp motion start to finish and a heck of an arm. In the last period open to the media, Klubnik dropped a dime to receiver Cole Turner on a go route.
Starting quarterback DJ Uiagalelei and running back Will Shipley led off a read option drill for their respective position groups where QBs pitched out to RBs after reading a defender. Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter led that drill.
Quarterbacks including Uiagalelei and Klubnik also went through a simulated pressure drill in which they took a snap under center, faked a handoff and threw jumping, side-armed dump-off passes to running backs while avoiding an imaginary defender.
Running backs went through various pass-catching drills, including one where they had to scoop intentionally low passes off the ground in stride. Running backs coach CJ Spiller has mentioned improved receiving chops as a focus for his room.
Reigning ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year Andrew Mukuba is a clear leader in the safety room. The sophomore defender, who also picked up various freshman All-American honors in 2021, certainly practices and plays like he’s been here before. A dynamic playmaker, he even took a few punt return reps early in practice.
Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Wes Goodwin focused heavily on reading gaps late in the viewing period. In one drill, Clemson linebackers lined up three deep and practiced attacking the proper lane for various rushing plays with various motions.
Lots of NFL personnel on site Monday, including reps for the Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets and Tennessee Titans. Most of them checked out Clemson’s defensive line at one point or another. PFF listed four Tigers defensive linemen among its top 25 ACC 2023 NFL Draft prospects: end Myles Murphy, tackle Bryan Bresee, tackle Tyler Davis and end Xavier Thomas.
Clemson’s DBs spent a few drills working on their fumble recovery skills.
Second of three Clemson football practices open to the media is starting now. Opening song during stretches: SUVs by Jack Harlow/Pooh Shiesty pic.twitter.com/nB5XQ9KRKO
— Chapel Fowler (@chapelfowler) August 8, 2022
Clemson got a number of players involved in kickoff return coverage drills. That was a weak point for the Tigers in 2021. Clemson opponents returned 16 kickoffs for 431 yards and a touchdown last season, good for a 26.94 yards per kickoff return average. That was the fifth worst average allowed among FBS teams.
Senior kicker B.T. Potter may very well end up serving as Clemson’s punter, too. Coach Dabo Swinney said punter’s essentially the team’s only unsettled position. Veteran Aidan Swanson and freshman Jack Smith, the other two primary contenders for the position, worked at punter alongside Potter Monday.
Some Monday practice tunes: “SUVs (Black on Black)” by Jack Harlow and Poo Sheisty, “Bring Em Out” by T.I. and “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan.