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April 13, 2013

Spring game takeaways





CLEMSON -- A few takeaways from today's spring game:

-- Obviously everyone on the team was pretty bummed about Chad Kelly's injury. Kelly was trying to juke Travis Blanks on the Orange team's second series when his right knee buckled, and by all appearances it's a torn ACL. Dabo Swinney said it won't be official until tomorrow's MRI, but it sure seems to be the case.

"Just a fluky thing," Swinney said, shaking his head. "Tough deal. He's got a purple jersey on, you can't tackle him. But unfortunately you can still get hurt. I wish I could explain it. That's part of life. My heart just breaks for him."

Today's game was supposed to be a showdown for the No. 2 quarterback job between Kelly and Cole Stoudt, but no one expected the job to be decided today. Unfortunately that's probably what happened.

Swinney said he thinks Kelly could recover in time to be available late this season. He pointed out Adrian Peterson's remarkable recovery from blowing out his knee and said he has no doubt Kelly can do the same thing because "it's in his DNA."

-- Brent Venables exits spring feeling really good about his safety position, saying Blanks and Robert Smith solidified starting roles at the two spots. He's very uneasy about cornerback, however. I asked him to break down the guys at those positions and he declined, referring the question to Swinney.

Swinney said he thinks cornerback is in decent shape because there's experience among Bashaud Breeland, Darius Robinson, Garry Peters and Martin Jenkins.

"We've won with all four of those guys," he said. "We need them to get better, and I don't have any doubt that they're going to do that because there's competition among that group and then we've got some really good players coming in here to add to it."

Swinney's bigger concern is safety because Blanks and Smith don't have starting experience at those positions.

Breeland tweaked his ankle this week in practice and did not play today.

-- Sammy Watkins played quite a bit while Tajh Boyd sat, and Swinney said that was because the Tigers have so few scholarship receivers.

"But that's all right. He needed to play."

Chad Morris was fairly stern in his appraisal of what Watkins needs to do between now and August. Watkins had a couple of drops, and Morris didn't like that.

"Sammy needed to play. He needed as many reps as he could possibly get going into summer. If he wants to pick up where he left off his freshman year and pick up where Nuk left off, he's got a lot of work to do."

-- Martavis Bryant was quite beastly today, making some sensational catches. The players I talked to said that's been the routine all spring. What a weapon if he keeps this up.

-- Stoudt was very happy with his day. Missed Watkins a couple of times early, but he recovered nicely.

-- Venables is stoked about his front seven. Said there's a "night and day" difference from this time last year.

-- Swinney on Jordan Leggett, who had a big day: "Just cool as a cucumber. Nothing fazes him. He just gets it."

Morris on Leggett: "That kid is going to be special. He really is. He's got to get more physical to complete his game."

-- Swinney said Shaq Anthony is in a big hole academically and has some serious work to do to put himself back into good standing in time for the season.

*** To chat with other Clemson fans about this article please visit The West Zone message board.


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