New Look Tigers on Display at Orange and White Game
Clemson wide receiver Mal Lawyer won't forget this year's spring practice for a while. It was a hurricane of a spring practice that ended Saturday with a scrimmage in Death Valley. And not a day too soon for Lawyer. "I think after what we went through both physically and mentally, we need a break," said Lawyer. "We pushed it to the limit. Every day, every practice we had we had we pushed it to the limit. And we practiced hard."
Saturday was no exception.
Clemson practiced for nearly three hours in front of 16,500 fans at Death Valley. It was billed as the "Orange & White Spring Festival." It was just another practice, if not toned down a bit. There was plenty to look for, though -- Clemson's new hurry-up offense and the new breed of coaches.
Clemson's offense struggled early, but got some help from the defense in the second half of the scrimmage, according to coach Tommy Bowden. "For about a half the defense took charge, unfortunately you have to play two halves," said Bowden, who spent the day making notes to himself as he stood on the field about ten yards away from the sideline and 30 yards behind the offense. "The defense took charge, then they passed the baton off."
The offense did not score in its first eight possessions and scored just three times in the first half of the scrimmage. In the second half, the offense scored on eight of 11 possessions. Brandon Streeter and Woodrow Dantzler split most of the time at quarterback. Dantzler passed for 220 yards (11-25-1) and rushed for 31 while Streeter passed for 148 yards (9-24-1) and didn't rush the ball.
Dantzler looked the most comfortable of the two in the hurry-up offense (there wasn't a huddle all day). While Bowden said that the quarterback position, along with four other parts of the team, would be open to the possibility of a freshman coming in and starting, it was obvious that he was impressed with Dantzler's performance Saturday. "Last year we had the first quarterback in NCAA history (Shawn King at Tulane) to throw for 3000 and rush for 500," said Bowden. "Here you could have one throw for 2500 and rush for 1000. No quarterback in NCAA history has ever thrown for 2000 and rushed for 1000. That's very possible here. Throwing for 2000 won't be a problem. He could rush for a thousand."
Bowden said that he would look at freshmen on the offensive line, in the secondary, at running back and at linebacker in August, based on what he saw this spring. "It's obvious that we don't have a playmaker at running back," said Bowden. "We can get what's there. I can get one of you guys to go do that -- run up and get what's there. That needs to be addressed in the fall, somehow, some way."
Still, Bowden was pleased with the effort in this spring. "We had 15 days and we practiced long and we practiced hard," he said. "Whatever the NCAA rules are we pushed it right to the max which is what I thought we had to do. We didn't go over, but we maxed out. The coaches coached extremely hard and the players played hard."
Tommy Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org