Reports from the Clemson Camp: What We Have Discovered So Far

For the Clemson Tigers football team, the 2023 season has now started. Fall camp has long begun and the Tigers have been working hard preparing for this upcoming season. At this point, the program is over a week into practices with a full scrimmage under their belt as well. We highlight the storylines coming out of Clemson’s camp and what these things tell us about how the Tigers will perform this season.

Returners With a Vengeance

Back at ACC media days, while many wanted to talk about all the new things happening at Clemson, head coach Dabo Swinney opted to talk about what has been retained. Much of what he talked about was the players Clemson was able to keep. He claimed that they only lost starters to the NFL. While not totally accurate, (D.J. Uiagalelei is playing for Oregon State in 2023), the point was taken. The Tigers have some very talented players returning for this season. Every player who came back seemed to do it for one reason, to win a national championship. Judging by the notes coming out of camp so far, they are taking this goal very seriously.

Dominant Defenders

On the defensive side of the ball, the Tigers have a chance to be very dominant. It will all start with the two linebackers who are among the two best in the nation. By any measure, Jeremiah Trotter Jr and Barrett Carter have been very good so far during camp. Trotter in particular is getting high praise for his work in both the team and individual drills. When the star has this much care even in individual drills it is a really good sign for a team trying to win championships. The defensive line also has looked strong so far. The starters right now are Xavier ThomasTyler DavisRuke Ororhoro, and Justin Mascoll. Thomas has been the guy sticking out to so many. Some are saying he is in the best shape he has been in since being in Death Valley.

New offense, Same talent

It is not just the defensive returners who look really good too. On the offense, the standouts, as expected. have been the runningback duo of Will Shipley and Phil Mafah. As the key veterans of the offense, they are expected to be focused and mature. They have been getting good help upfront too as the offensive line has looked great so far. Even better they have shown some depth across the front five. There is even a battle for the starting left tackle spot. Tristian Leigh holds the starting position now, but Swinney has said Colin Sadler is right behind him and also doing very well. Wide receivers Beaux CollinsAdam Randall, and Antonio Williams are also looking great and apparently putting a smile on Swinney’s face lining up together.

New Standouts

As good as the returners have been though, some of the young newcomers have been making great impressions. One player who came in a little more under the radar is running back Peyton Streko. He had offers from Army, Navy, as well the Air Force Academy, to whom he actually originally committed. The freshman running back opted to decline those offers and walk on to the Clemson program. It is a move that takes much confidence. He has turned some heads during the first few practices in a runningback group full of talent. Staying on the offensive side of the ball a slightly less surprising standout has been wide receiver Tyler Brown. He has been very impressive so far and has even been getting many of the second-team reps. He has been noted as being very much responsible for helping the Tigers’ receiver group look much improved from last season. Noble Johnson and Misun Kelley are two other freshmen from this group who have looked really good too.

On the defensive side, there have been a couple of young players who have made an impact too like cornerback Avieon Terell. Another player making a big impact so far is defensive tackle Peter Woods. He has been making a ton of noise on the field since getting to Death Valley. He had a great Spring after enrolling early and has been building on it very well early on in camp. Woods has been blowing up plays being part of the second-team defensive line. He is looking like a game wrecker early on and is definitely going to be someone to look out for from week one.

How does the Offense Look?

Probably the biggest question mark for the Tigers going into the 2023 season is the offense. More specifically really the wide receiver position and Clemson’s passing game. So far, the wide receivers as a group are said to look much improved from last season. Collins, Randall, and Williams are the starting core that Swinney has been wanting to see for a while and they have shown why. Then the young guys Brown, Johnson, and Kelley have shown out as well. They also still have a couple of guys who are injured who could have an impact when they return in Brannon Spector and Troy Stellato.

The offensive line looks really good and deep right now too which is most important. In order to be a championship football team, the offensive line has to be great, especially with a new quarterback. The Tigers have some great size across the offensive line, not a guy under 315, who all move very well too. Shipley and Mafah have been talking all off-season about wanting to be the best running-back duo in the nation. So far they are working like it and leading a group of impressive young backs who a few we could see making an early impact. Then of course there is new starting quarterback Cade Klubnik. The sophomore is expected to get a lot more freedom in the offense after having been limited through much of his time last year. In the first scrimmage, Klubnik threw one interception but otherwise looked good by what was reported.

First Scrimmage Looks

According to Swinney, the first scrimmage was a pretty even game on both sides. The defense started off hot making plays and getting turnovers. Klubnik’s interception turned into a pick-six. In the second half of the scrimmage, the offense really got going. Klubnik looked good along with the likes of wide receivers Brown, Cole Turner, and tight end Jake Briningstool. Swiney said from a skill standpoint things looked very clean. The one problem that stood out in the scrimmage was the penalties. The coaches will need to review the films to see if they were an issue of discipline or simple mistakes. By the looks of it though, there is very much to be excited about for Tiger fans.

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