ACC notes: Veteran-laden Tigers primed for title run
In his ACC notebook, Andrew Jones says Clemson's older, wiser roster may be primed for a title run.
By ANDREW JONESFS Carolinas
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said the
Tigers' post-spring practice depth chart, released earlier in the day, "doesn't mean anything."
But when 20 of the 22 listed starters are juniors and seniors, it does matter. It matters a lot.
Making a run at a national championship is better requested of a team full of veterans with experience, and the Tigers have that. Young, fun and explosive two years ago in many spots, Clemson is now an older version of what it was.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd, a Heisman Trophy candidate, is a senior, and junior wide receiver Sammy Watkins is smarter than ever, and a bit humbled, which Swinney believes will make him an improved football player.
Even offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who was just a couple of years removed from coaching in high school when Boyd took over as a sophomore, is more grizzled and a hot commodity in the ranks.
As a result, Clemson is less likely to stumble this season, an issue that has plagued this program. The makings are there for a run at something special; and with home games against Georgia (season opener) and ACC rival Florida State (Oct. 19), the opportunity is certainly there.
If Clemson is going to thrust itself into the national mix, now’s the time to launch. The depth chart says so.
The only area perhaps not fully etched in stone is along the offensive line, notably at tight end. Sam Cooper suffered an ACL injury in the spring game and will have surgery in early May. He could miss the entire season. So, the rest of the order could change once the Tigers get into August camp.
"They’re very talented," Swinney said. "They can all run and catch."
Cooper was far more experienced than the others now battling for his job, though others are plenty talented.
"I think we have good pieces there, we just lose the experience," Swinney said.
Tight end issues, if the Tigers even have any, won’t ruin the season. With a clutch placekicker back (Chandler Catanzro), two Heisman contenders (Boyd, Watkins), and overall five seniors and five juniors starting on offense and seven juniors and three seniors starting on defense, Clemson is primed for something big.
Bigger than winning the ACC title in 2011.
Bigger than anything the program has experienced since 1981.
Terror attack affects BC
Boston College's spring game last week was canceled due to the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent lock-down of the city, as federal, state and local officials conducted an area-wide manhunt of the terror suspects.
Also canceled was a flag football game of alumni football players slated for earlier in the day. Former Eagles such as Mark Herzlich, Rich Grunnell and Jim Ramella, among others, were headlining that event.
Last weekend was supposed to be a big recruiting weekend for the Eagles, too, as many of their top targets from the Class of 2014 were scheduled to visit. Some were already in Boston with their families when the events were canceled.
N.C. State comes up short
An important part of N.C. State's spring games over the last five years has been generating awareness of breast cancer, while raising money to fight the deadly disease. It has turned into a terrific event in the Research Triangle and should be the model of how the other ACC schools run their spring games. Why not make them all for charity?
Funds at North Carolina State go to the Kay Yow WBCA Cancer Fund and Kay Yow Endowment. The game also bears the name of the late women's basketball coach, who died in 2009 from breast cancer.
Fans are asked to donate $1 when entering Carter-Finley Stadium. In 2009, the school raised $28,000 from a reported 21,075 in attendance. In 2010, it dropped to $21,640 from 25,372 fans.
The last two seasons, however, the game generated $15,000 from 13,000 spectators in 2011 and $33,000 from 24,797 Wolfpack supporters in 2012. Last weekend, however, the school raised just $20,000 from a reported 27,500 in attendance.