The Clemson defense usually has to run off the practice field, anyway when it finishes practice, but they had a little more of a giddy up in their step when they came off the field Tuesday.
First off it was the last day of fall camp, and the Tigers have been given Wednesday off due to the first day of classes. Secondly, a table full of watermelon greeted them as they exited the practice fields behind the Jervey Athletic Center, along with the 2011 Watermelon Queen Holly Whatley. It is a tradition that has closed fall camp for many years.
“It felt good to see both,” Clemson defensive tackle Brandon Thompson said.
Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said it is now time for the Tigers to get down to business. When they do practice on Thursday – the first regular season practice of the year – their concentration will pretty much turn to the Troy Trojans, who visit Death Valley on September 3.
“It’s time to get it now,” he said. “Come Thursday, it will be just a couple of days before the first game. It’s time to get serious.
“It’s now time to have less periods against our defense and more about scouting, self-scouting and watching film a little bit more. It’s about improving the smallest details because the detail is what really counts when it is time to play.”
For Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney, the last 18 days have been what he called very productive ones. The Tigers’ third-year coach said they got all they wanted to get accomplished in camp and then some.
“I think we got a lot done on both sides of the ball, especially installation wise,” he said. “We were very aggressive and we got a bunch of stuff in. Now, again, we have a lot of young guys. Some of it stuck and some of it didn’t so that is part of the process.
“You don’t take everything in your library into a game so I think some of these guys will do a lot better the next time around because it will be a little bit easier for them. We are really going to get dialed in and the reps are not so scattered.”
For Boyd, camp has been a very successful one for him and the offense. In the team’s situational and stadium scrimmages, the first-year starter had very productive days in directing Chad Morris’ new offense. He threw five touchdown passes to one interception in those game-like situations and completed 28 of 41 passes.
“That’s the best thing about camp. I was able to get a lot accomplished in these short few days,” he said. “I have to help lead us to victory so now I just start taking things one game at a time and just keep them moving.”
As for the defense, Thompson said he feels pretty good about his unit. He acknowledges they still have a few young players that are coming along, but overall things went well.
“I feel pretty good coming out of camp,” he said. “We have a lot of young players, but from a veteran standpoint, I think our leadership is great. We have to keep coming out every day and work hard so that we can be the defense we want to be.”
Sammy Watkins was back at practice after missing the last two days with a hip injury. Mike Bellamy and Brandon Thompson are also at full strength.
**STORY FROM CLEMSON SID**