Clemson Defense Tallies 13 Sacks in Scrimmage Saturday Morning

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CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers held their second major scrimmage of the spring in Death Valley early Saturday morning, and the fans who enjoyed the near-perfect weather also saw the both the offensive and defensive squads have highlight plays.

The spring will conclude next Saturday with the annual Spring Game at Clemson Memorial Stadium at 1:00 PM.

The defense, led by sophomore defensive end Da’Quan Bowers’ three sacks and four tackles for loss, totaled 13 sacks in dominating the early part of the scrimmage, while all three Clemson quarterbacks played well in spurts, with Michael Wade posting the most impressive stats – 9-for-12 for 163 yards and two touchdowns.

“I thought it was a great scrimmage,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “I saw great competition and solid performances on both sides of the ball. The wide receivers had their best day of the spring. Brandon Ford had two touchdowns and has really made progress this week. The quarterbacks did well. People better not count out Michael Wade, he had an outstanding day.

“On defense I thought Da’Quan Bowers was outstanding. The defense had a very good day in general. We did have some mistakes that were critical, a fumble on the goal line, and an offside’s penalty by the defense that negated a big play that allowed a first down. But, overall I was pleased.”

Some of the highlights of the scrimmage included:

A 60-yard touchdown pass from Wade to Brandon Ford. Wade lofted a nice pass down the right sideline, and Ford, who had broken past the corner, caught the ball in stride. The safety was late coming over, and Ford broke a tackle at the 20-yard line and coasted the rest of the way in.

Kyle Parker hit Terrence Ashe on a 10-yard fade in the back of the end zone for another touchdown. Ashe had a step on the defender, and Parker lofted a pretty touch pass for Ashe to catch.

Sadat Chambers had a 23-yard interception return off of a Willy Korn pass. Korn was under pressure and threw high, and Chambers was waiting for the easy pick.

A 30-yard pass from Willy Korn to Brandon Clear. Korn was under pressure and rolled out of the pocket, then hit Clear, who caught the ball as he fell on the ground. It was during a two-minute drill the Tigers were running and was on third down.
<>Even the kickers got in on the fun, with Spencer Benton going 7-for-7, including a 50-yarder. Richard Jackson also had a good day, hitting 4-of-6, but two of those were from 49 yards out.

Willy Korn had some decent moments, finishing 8-for-16 for 96 yards and added a three-yard scoring pass to Ford in the goal line drill portion of the scrimmage. However, three of Korn’s passes were dropped. Kyle Parker completed 7-of-14 for 87 yards and the touchdown to Ashe.

“We came out today to work on our passing game,” said Swinney. “We have had some tough weather this spring so today was the best day we have had to work on pitching and catching. I was pleased with what I saw.”

Ford had three catches for 97 yards, including a 60-yard score from Wade, in the regular scrimmage, and then added a touchdown catch from Korn in the goal line portion.

”I had a good today,” Ford said of the scrimmage. “Once you get out there, you just want to make plays. You want to be the guy to make plays and show the coaches you are the guy to make those plays, and be consistent, and make plays every chance you get. On the touchdown, they were in a Cover 2 and the corner was playing down, and when I got past him, he hit me like dead on the sidelines and I just made a move.”

Jaron Brown had three catches for 68 yards, including a 26-yard reception from Wade. Ashe had three catches for 20 yards, including the 10-yard score from Parker. Xavier Dye added 2-40 receiving, and Brandon Clear had a 30-yard catch as well.

“They are turning into a fun group to throw the ball to,” quarterback Willy Korn said. “Seeing guys like Brandon Ford and Xavier Dye step up is awesome to see. Today, we threw the ball a lot more, and I thought we were more consistent. We still had some breakdowns, but we’re getting better. I think we have a chance to be a very good offensive team.”

Rendrick Taylor topped all runners with eight rushes for 31 yards, with many of those yards coming in the goal line portion of the scrimmage. Taylor also lined up at tight end and in the slot at wide receiver. Andre Ellington had 8 rushes for 27 yards. C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford both missed the scrimmage as they compete this weekend for the Clemson track team in the Florida Relays.

The defense recorded 13 sacks in the scrimmage, with the quarterback considered down on the one-hand touch rule.

“I was probably a little bit quick with the whistle on some of those,” said Swinney, who oversaw all of the action from his vantage point behind the quarterback. “You just want to make sure that at this stage of the spring, you don’t get anyone hurt unnecessarily.”

In addition to Bowers, who also forced a fumble and an interception, Brandon Clear had two sacks, while Kavell Conner, Clemson’s top tackler last season, had six tackles.

DeAndre McDaniel, Daniel Andrews, Jamie Cumbie and Kourtnei Brown had five apiece, but it was McDaniel who also added a highlight reel play on a stop on a 4th-and-2 play inside their own 10-yard line. McDaniel made the hit on Taylor, and new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was one of the first to celebrate with McDaniel, jumping in the middle of the pile.

Sophomore Coty Sensabaugh also had a 53-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

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