Defense Shines Again as Tigers Hold Scrimmage In Death Valley

by - Senior Writer -
Photos by Fotoman [Practice Gallery 2]

CLEMSON — Despite the empty seats in Clemson’s Death Valley, there was almost a game day-like atmosphere inside of Memorial Stadium Saturday morning, with fans lining the field following the football scrimmage to get a photograph or glimpse of their favorite player or players.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney may hope that the Clemson defense actually plays as well in three weeks on an actual game day in front of 80,000 fans as they did on Saturday after sophomore defensive end Da’Quan Bowers and senior end Ricky Sapp combined for five quarterback sacks to lead the defense in the two-hour scrimmage.

It was the second stadium scrimmage for the Tigers in the preseason.

The two Bamberg, S.C. products were joined by true freshman Malliciah Goodman, who also tallied a pair of sacks that was made easier because the quarterbacks only had to be touched to be considered down.

Sophomore linebacker Brandon Maye led the defense with seven tackles, while Marcus Gilchrist had two tackles for loss and a 60 yard fumble return.

“The defense is still ahead of the offense, but the offense is making progress, especially in the offensive line,” Swinney said. “We had better pass protection overall. It is tough to evaluate when you have the no hitting the quarterback rule and it makes it a lot easier to record sacks.

“What bothered me the most today were the mistakes by the offense in the red-zone. We had a great opening drive where we took the ball from the 30 to the 16, then had a turnover. Other times we had an offside’s or a holding penalty in the red-zone that negated a positive play.”

Swinney said the offensive game plan heading into the scrimmage was to spend time working on the running game, and the quarterbacks all put up fairly similar statistics, with Willy Korn going 5-for11 for 56 yards, while Kyle Parker 5-for-10 for 39 yards. Mike Wade 3-for-3 for 20 yards and freshman Tajh Boyd 4-for-5 for 66 yards while working exclusively with the third team. There were no interceptions and no touchdown passes.

The receivers were led by red-shirt freshman Brandon Ford, who caught three passes for 56 yards. Freshman Bryce McNeal had three catches for 20 yards. Graduate tight end Durrell Barry had a fine catch over the middle from Parker for 24 yards.

Rendrick Taylor was the top rusher with eight carries for 33 yards and a touchdown. Jamie Harper had eight carries for 29 yards in the scrimmage and scored three times in the goal line drill at the end of the scrimmage. C.J. Spiller played sparingly as Swinney gave younger running backs more reps. Freshman Roderick McDowell had four rushes for 15 yards and a touchdown from five yards out.

Sophomore fullback Chad Diehl worked on both offense and defense during the scrimmage, playing at middle linebacker during goal line situations.

“As of right now, it is going to be just goal line,” Diehl said. “I am a heavier-type guy without the speed, so goal line is kind of a shorter box, so I think I am just going to play goal line. At fullback, even in the NFL, they are role players. If we are going to win passing the ball, then the fullback can’t be selfish and want to be out on the field. Going out there on the goal line situations is a way to get on the field. “

Richard Jackson and Spencer Benton each had mixed reviews at kicker. Jackson was 4-for-5 on attempts including kicks before the scrimmage and during the scrimmage. Spencer Benton was 3-for-5. Punter Dawson Zimmerman also had a good day with a 45-yard average.

Clemson offensive coordinator Billy Napier and Swinney said that the quarterback situation continues to be a dead heat, even though Parker got most of the reps with the first team in the past two scrimmages. Napier said, however, that was because the coaching staff was trying to get Parker up to speed on the offense after he had to miss portions of the spring while playing baseball.

Swinney said that the coaching staff will look at the film from the scrimmage and they will continue to evaluate the quarterback position, but hinted he may name a front-runner sometime soon.

“The quarterbacks continue to do well and work hard,” Swinney said. “Whoever we decided on at quarterback, we are going to put a winner on the field. Hopefully we will see something on film, but I was pleased with what those guys did out there today.”

Then he laughed and told the media where they were in the pecking order once he makes a decision. “I don’t have a specific timetable as to when I will announce a starter. When we make a decision, ya’ll will be the second to know. No, you will be the third after I tell my wife. ”

Swinney said it was a good day of practice, but he was without a lot of players due to injury.

“You get a lot of players out at this time of the year,” he said. “Today was our fifth straight day of practice. We will take tomorrow off and it comes at a good time.”

Three players suffered injuries during the scrimmage. Starting offensive tackle Chris Hairston suffered a muscle strain in his neck, while Terence Ashe suffered a mild concussion. Freshman linebacker Corico Hawkins suffered a knee injury.

Missing the practice completely were Jacoby Ford (hamstring), Jamie Cumbie (shoulder), Andre Ellington (knee), Michael Palmer (foot), Wilson Norris (knee), Brandon Clear (ribs) and Miguel Chavis (hamstring).

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Subject (Replies: 23) Author
Defensive Ends Shine Again as Tigers Hold Scirmmage In Death Valley
Punter averaged 45 yards. Pretty good. Can't wait to see
Gotta get penetration on the interior line
Good info. Thanks. ******
Special teams needs to be big for us.
Was it true that Willy Korn is a good FG kicker?***
Re: Punter averaged 45 yards. Pretty good. Can't wait to see
There were a few punts today, one returned a far piece
Sounds like another productive scirmmage.***
Judge Keller
sounds a lot like last year except for there was no.........
Re: sounds a lot like 3 weeks to game time--mistakes, not
More focus on running and defending the run which
Chuckston T-Man
Re: sounds a lot like last year except for there was no.........
the mods delete points, sometimes seemingly at random.***
Seriously dude...
Maybe it's normal, but sure seems like we have a lot of
Smiling Tiger®
Re: Maybe it's normal, but sure seems like we have a lot of
Re: Defensive Ends Shine Again as Tigers Hold Scirmmage In Death Valley
Re: Defensive Ends Shine Again as Tigers Hold Scirmmage In Death Valley
Re: Defensive Ends Shine Again as Tigers Hold Scirmmage In Death Valley
Re: Defensive Ends Shine Again as Tigers Hold Scirmmage In Death Valley
Looks like our offense is weak once again
Re: Looks like our offense is weak once again

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