No summer vacation for Clemson Tigers
CLEMSON -- Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd says championship teams are built in the summer.
The summer is when players have the choice put in extra work when no coaches are watching, when quarterbacks and receivers can improve continuity in the passing game.
With spring practice complete, and with direct supervision of coaches over until August, the onus is now on Clemson's individual players to improve.
The following are five players, or units, in need of productive summers:
Boyd knows he needs a big summer. While his status as starting quarterback is not in doubt, his accuracy must improve. Boyd completed 53 percent of 63 pass attempts last season and roughly 55 percent of his attempts this spring. He completed just 8 of 24 attempts in the spring game.
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris says Boyd's footwork must improve. To Morris, throwing accuracy begins with the feet, and he has indicated he thought Boyd might be further along mechanically as a redshirt sophomore.
Boyd also needs a summer to build continuity with receivers and continue to develop his emerging leadership skills. Clemson missed these chemistry exercises last summer as Kyle Parker sat out summer drills. Parker participated in summer workouts in 2009, perhaps explaining part of last season's regression. Much of Clemson's 2011 hinges upon whether Boyd can make the leap from promising prospect to steady quarterback.
Morris said it is within the NCAA rules to send video of Clemson's spring practices and offensive concepts to incoming freshmen like five-star talents Sammy Watkins, Mike Bellamy and Charone Peake. Morris said he likely will not send the signees such DVDs as he's worried about them being copied and proliferated.
But perhaps Morris should grant a one-tine exemption to his rule. The incoming freshmen are potential impact offensive players for an offense that needs home-run hitters. Last year, true freshman DeAndre Hopkins made a major impact in the second half of the season, but could Clemson's season taken a different course had been placed on a faster track?
Regardless, the three freshmen will need to get stronger this summer to handle the rigors of Division I football.
The good news is the rising sophomore made six of his final seven field-goal attempts last season. The bad news is three road losses can be blamed at least in part on Catanzaro's leg.
Clemson's kicking game is again a major question mark, and Catanzaro will seek to improve this summer while training with NFL kicker Matt Stover. If Catanzaro cannot translate practice field success to games, he could be pushed by true freshman Ammon Lakip, Rivals.com's seventh-rated kicker in the 2011 class.
We've heard a familiar storyline this spring: an athletic freak of a defensive end yet to live up to a lofty billing but might be beginning to understand the work required of stardom.
Last year, it was Da'Quan Bowers, who dropped 25 pounds over the summer en route to national defensive player of the year honors. While Goodman is not quite the raw talent Bowers was, he has the potential to be an above-average end, and Clemson needs an impact player at that position to replace some of Bowers' 15 1/2 sacks of last season.
Outside of left tackle, Clemson returns a veteran, experienced offensive front. Will they be in shape to run at Morris' desired up-tempo pace in practice after practice, game after game this fall?
The early returns this spring were favorable, but will the linemen stay in shape this summer? Will they undertake proper diets? The training table has not yet arrived on campus, and strength and conditioning will a key factor this fall.
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