Elliott to use Wednesday scrimmage as measuring stick for quarterbacks


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Elliott says Wednesday's scrimmage will be the first measuring stick for QBs
Elliott says Wednesday's scrimmage will be the first measuring stick for QBs

CLEMSON – Starting over is never easy, and it’s especially difficult when you lose your starting quarterback, center, running back, tight end, and two wide receivers.

However, offensive coordinator Tony Elliott told the media following Monday’s practice that it’s something college coaches are used to doing.

"We believe that as a program we've recruited well. That's the great thing about college football,” Elliott said. “Those guys have to go at some point but it's a challenge. We're still not where we need to be, we have a long time to go and four days in I like the energy and intensity and it looks like guys are taking ownership of this offseason. Excited for the challenge.

"Every spring we start over and go back to the basics. Even if those guys were returning we're still going back to the basics and nuts and bolts of what we do because each season presents its challenges. Each season is different and each team is different. The offense is going to be suited to the strengths of those guys and where they're at."

The team will scrimmage each of the next two Wednesdays, and Elliott said he’s anxious to see the quarterbacks.

"Four days in of practice, and we're going to put it down on Wednesday and let them scrimmage a little bit. You definitely can see the ability, a lot in the young guys- a lot of talent, still trying to process everything,” Elliott said. “Really, really like the confidence that Kelly (Bryant) has come out with and he seems to be the most consistent day in and day out. I’m so excited in Tucker (Israel). Tucker's much improved from the fall. Really, we won’t know a lot until we can let those guys go out and scrimmage and let those guys get the feel, installation and see how they handle it. So far I'm pleased with the confidence, but we've still got some work to do."

Elliott said quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter is managing each quarterback’s workload.

"I've let coach Streeter handle that. Kelly is the one who's getting the majority of the reps and then Tucker and also Zerrick Cooper and trying to bring Hunter (Johnson) along as we can,” he said. “Again, he's just a freshman and should still be in high school and is only four days in to a college installation. You definitely see the arm talent and the ability. Still trying to figure it all out."

OTHER NOTES

Will the running backs be a featured part in the passing game this fall?

"We haven't gotten to that point yet, but I plan to add some of those elements as those guys continue to progress. C.J. (Fuller) finished the fall as the number two back, naturally he'll start at that position. Really like the confidence level out of those three guys. Even out of (Tavien) Feaster, but we've still got to remember he's a young guy and there's still a lot of things I'm teaching him. Fuller looks really, really confident and (Adam) Choice has a different confidence level about him. You start to see he's not thinking about things and he's playing at a high level of confidence."

Is Adam Choice healthier?

"I don't know if you'd say healthier, but a new sense of confidence of where he's moving. We got to remember he was the guy that could've potentially gotten the nod back in freshman year before he got hurt, so what you're seeing is just that level of confidence that he came in with. Choice is a very conscientious guy and pass protection is something that he's really ,really had to improve upon but you see he's not thinking about it and he's being physical so I like the way he's been moving.

"Hopefully all those guys have an opportunity to contribute and it'll be up to them. Just like going into it before Wayne (Gallman) came being the alpha guy. He took it upon himself to separate himself. I think Choice has the potential to separate from the pack just like Fuller and Feaster do. It'll be on them, they've got to be consistent."

The tight end competition

"Milan (Richard) is a guy we think is going to progress there. I like his confidence level and he's starting to move around and make catches and be consistent. You're seeing Garrett (Williams) much improved. He's a guy that gave us a lot in the running game. Bringing (J.C.) Chalk along and then you've got D.J. Greenlee who's been in the system for a while and has an opportunity but until we get out of the way and put the ball down and get off the field and let them compete, we won't know."

Is Justin Facinelli ready to take over at center?

"I tell you what, I am very pleased with where Falcinelli is. I think Jay (Guillermo) solidified that spot and he wasn't in a position where he was going to play unless there was injury but now he knows that's his job to go out and win you're seeing a different confidence level. He's plenty smart but the biggest thing is getting the experience and I think even Jay early on it took him time to gain that experience. I go up to coach Swinney sometimes and talk to him and say, 'You're going to miss Deshaun, but I'm going to miss Jay Guillermo,' because being in charge of the run game and also the protections you know how important that center is. He has the skill set to do it."

What has he seen out of Gage Cervenka?

"We're really trying to get him honed in as a center for us. We believe he can be a center and he's running with the second unit and doing a really good job. I know coach (Robbie) Caldwell will probably say something different than me because those are his guys and he's going to be as tough as he can but for a guy who hasn't played any offense for his background as a defensive guy moving over during a season and not having any experience, to see where he's at and be at the level of comprehension- he's still got a lot of things to work on, still learning how to snap-but I think he's going to be a guy that can compete at the center spot."

Any surprises so far

"Really pleased so far with the execution. Guys seem to know where they're at. Now, there's a lot of technical issues that we've got to clean up, and that's what practice is for. I like the spirit. Ray-Ray (McCloud) and Deon (Cain) are really embracing their opportunity. Really pleased with Cornell Powell and you're seeing he's starting to take that next step. I think it happens to guys when there's not an established guy like a two, three-year starter or a record holder in front of them."

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