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Tag:Clemson Spring Practice Preview
Posted on: March 7, 2012 6:07 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Clemson



Posted by Chip Patterson


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Clemson.

Spring Practice Starts: March 7

Spring Game: April 14

Three Things To Look For

1. Raised expectations. The hope of returning the ACC title to Clemson had driven Tigers' programs for two decades until Dabo Swinney finally delivered the crown in December. But after the 2011 team "broke through the walls," as Swinney put it several times, the expectations changed completely for 2012. Bringing back all of the primary offensive skill players but Dwayne Allen, and hiring Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables has made 2012 a BCS or bust season. No longer will Clemson fans hope to avoid a letdown, instead they expect to compete for hardware from opening day. Not even a record-setting blowout loss in South Beach could shake the confidence of a new-attitude program hungry for more titles.

2. Improving the offensive line. With Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, and Andre Ellington all back, the Tigers are set with All-ACC talent at the skill positions. However, troubles along the offensive line prevented the unit from clicking during their late-season slide in 2011. The success of the offense relied too heavily on individuals like left tackle Phillip Price, and this spring should be an opportunity for offensive coordinator Chad Morris to get some depth and a solid rotation along the line. Price and fellow tackle Landon Walker are gone, leaving center Dalton Freeman as the only lineman with any significant game experience. Conditioning should no longer be an issue for offseason practice, either, with one full year of Morris' system under their belts.

3. Brent Venables' impact. The Tigers return just six starters on defense, and have a huge need on the defensive line to replace All-ACC graduates Brandon Thompson and Andre Branch. Former Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables enters as one of the most praised (and highest-paid) defensive coordinators in the ACC, but will have his work cut out with this young group of defenders. On one hand, it might be easier to teach a new system rather than have to un-teach Kevin Steele's complex scheme. On the other, he could end up seeing the same youthful mistakes that plagued the Tigers in 2011. Venables will have all eyes on his defense in 2012, and getting through to his unit this spring will be essential for Clemson's success in the fall.

For much more on Clemson as they go through Spring Practice, including the Top 3 Position Battles for the spring, follow Travis Sawchik's Tigers' RapidReports. For more spring previews around the ACC check out Spring Practice Home.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 4:40 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 4:43 pm
 

NCAA denies redshirt for Clemson LB Steward

Posted by Chip Patterson

Clemson linebacker Tony Steward had his request for a medical redshirt from the NCAA denied last week, according to Tigers' head coach Dabo Swinney.

Swinney met with the media on Tuesday to discuss several team issues heading into Wednesday's opening of spring practice, and called the NCAA's decision "a shame."

A five-star prospect coming out of high school, Steward was one of the many true freshman to contribute immediately for the Tigers, but his action was cut short by a torn ACL in the fifth game. NCAA rules allow for players to redshirt for medical reason if they had played in 30 percent or fewer of the team's games in a season. While the fifth game put the sophomore linebacker over the limit, the school hoped only playing 36 snaps in those games would result in an exception.

Steward is still recovering from successful knee surgery to repair the damage, and will miss all of Clemson's spring practice. He is expected to be fully cleared to participate in team activities in May.

Another member of that same recruiting class will be returning to practice on Wednesday: sophomore running back Mike Bellamy. Bellamy showed bursts of potential during his freshman campaign, but the on-field time was reportedly limited by off-field conduct and attitude issues.

Bellamy received criticism from the coaching staff during the season, and was suspended indefinitely for violation of a team rule before the ACC title game in December.

"[Bellamy has] been doing OK," Swinney said on Tuesday. "This is a big spring for him."

Starting running back Andre Ellington returns for the Tigers, looking to build on a junior year that saw him collect 1,178 yards despite missing time due to injury. Ellington has had to miss time because of injury in each of his last two seasons, and there should be opportunity for Bellamy to move up to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart this spring.

For more on the Tigers' updates heading into spring practice, check out Travis Sawchik's Tigers RapidReports.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the opening kick of the year all the way through the offseason, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com