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Clemson Football Practice Report – August 12

Aug. 12, 2011

The Clemson football team held the first session of its first two-a-day practice of the 2011 season on Friday morning at the practice fields behind the Jervey Athletic Center. Click on the video below to watch highlights from the workout.

Thomas Making an Impression at Left TackleBy Will Vandervort, IPTAY Media

CLEMSON, SC – When the Clemson Tigers opened fall camp last week, one of the players Head Coach Dabo Swinney hoped to see progress from was reserve left tackle Brandon Thomas. Let’s just say the 6-4, 300-pound sophomore is making an impression on his head coach.

“I’m almost ready to start talking nice about him,” Swinney joked to reporters after Friday’s first of two practices.

For the seventh practice in a row, Thomas impressed his head coach with his improvement. As the Tigers get closer to the September 3 season-opener against Troy, getting quality play from Thomas at left tackle is what Clemson needs the most.

Swinney says Thomas is one of the many people he is going to be watching closely when the Tigers scrimmage for the first time this summer at Death Valley Saturday morning.

“He has done a good job in camp,” Swinney said. “He is playing guard and tackle. He is really talented. He has great feet, good size and strength and can really move, but he is starting to act like he wants to be a good player.

“He is a great kid, but we are trying to get him to be as good of a football player as we know he is capable of being.”

The Clemson coaches tried that with Thomas and the rest of his teammates Friday with the first of four two-a-day sessions for the 2011 camp. Clemson went for more than two hours in the morning, and then will have basically a walk-though practice in the evening as they get set for Saturday’s scrimmage.

The scrimmage is closed to the public.

“I like the chemistry of our team. I like how they have worked,” Swinney said. “We are a week into practice now. The biggest thing for us, as the installation is slowing down, is that we are going back through some things and re-teaching them. “That’s what tonight is about. It is a teaching practice because we have a lot of mistakes to correct and hopefully we can get some of these guys focused in on the scrimmage for tomorrow. I’m really anxious to see them tomorrow cut it loose and play.”

Saturday will be the first opportunity the Tigers have had in which the coaches will be off the field. That has Swinney anxious to see how some of his players react when real game situations are thrown at them when they are just one-on-one. “Our biggest thing is trying to develop depth,” Swinney said. “I feel pretty good about our first group on both sides. We have some guys that have proven we can win with them and they have played a lot of football.

“The coaches are confident in them. Tomorrow is the first opportunity where we can get off the field and they can just play football, and their natural instincts kick in.”

As for Friday, Swinney said the Tigers worked more on their red zone offense, where he said they made some progress. Clemson also worked on coming off the goal line, where he said the team still has some work to do.

“We still have a long way to go, but we are in pretty good shape right now,” he said. Defensive end Andre Branch was dinged up on Thursday night, but Swinney said it was nothing serious. He hopes Branch can be back for the first scrimmage. He was the only player wearing a yellow jersey on Friday.

“We are in pretty good shape physically right now after a week,” he said.