Offense rebounds with two good days of practice, Scott breaks down QB battle


by - Staff Writer -
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Hunter Johnson is competing for a starting spot

CLEMSON – Tuesday’s practice in Jervey Meadows was, by all accounts, one of the worst practices for a Clemson football team in quite some time and the coaches wanted to see if the players would rebound from that adversity.

They did.

Head coach Dabo Swinney moved the team from the comfortable confines of the regular practice fields and the indoor practice field to the grassy lot at Jervey Meadows for Tuesday’s practice, and he plans to keep the team there for the rest of the week. However, Tuesday’s practice came after two off days, and the practice results were less than stellar, and co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott wanted to see how the players would respond.

“We had a very poor practice out here on Tuesday. You’ve got to have them and they’re part of fall camp. You don’t like them as a coach, but you try to look for them and when they’re there, you try to make your point,” Scott said Thursday. “The big message to the guys is, ‘Even though we’ve got a really talented group, we’ve got to show up every day with the right focus, the right mentality. We can’t just roll out here and be dominant every day if we don’t have that right focus.’

“That was the big thing Tuesday. The guys came out here, it was the first day in Jervey Meadows, it was a little bit hot, and they didn’t have the focus from the beginning, and it showed throughout the whole practice. Obviously, they got challenged a good bit, and I felt like they responded yesterday in the scrimmage. Today was probably one of our best days, so that’s what you’re looking for as a coach. Can we rebound from that adversity? It’s kind of a microcosm of the season.”

Scott said there are still three practice left before any decisions on the depth chart or redshirts are made.

"I don’t think we’re quite to that spot. I think Monday or Tuesday we’ll get there," he said. "I think the guys know that in our mind we’re still in the third quarter of camp. We’re not quite to that spot yet. We’ve still got a big scrimmage Saturday and two really important days on Monday and Tuesday. I think once we get through Monday and Tuesday and school starts on Wednesday, they’ll kind of realize, ‘Alright, we survived and had a good fall camp and now it’s time to get ready for Kent State.’”

OTHER NOTES

The emergence of Diondre Overton

“He’s not complete by any means, but he’s improved tremendously from last year. With a talented guy like Tee Higgins coming in and he’s going to get a lot of attention, Overton was a guy that had to respond and he did. He’s probably the most improved player in that entire group from spring practice. The only reason is because of how he worked in the summer. It was very evident from the first day he got out here and then his consistency every day. We’ve known he’s a talented guy. He’s tall and he’s got to learn how to play low, work on his releases. He’s gotten more consistent catching the ball. It puts us in a lot better position because Deon is a guy that can’t play 90 plays, so we’ve got to be able to count on that second and third 9-man to come in the game.”

Kelly Bryant’s improvement

“I believe Coach Swinney said that if we played today, Kelly would be our starter. I’ve been very pleased with him. Very much improved from the spring. Another guy that’s been very evident of how hard he worked in the off season and throughout the summer. He came out here day one and he was much improved from where he was in spring practice. I feel like he’s been very consistent, really throwing the ball very well and very pleased where he is. I think that other group of guys right behind him have been competing and doing a good job as well. We’ve got a good situation at quarterback, but our team is definitely very confident in Kelly with where we are in fall camp.”

The other quarterbacks

“All of those guys have had their moments. Zerrick (Cooper) has done a better job of making good decisions. Zerrick has an unbelievable arm. The biggest thing for him in the spring is understanding when to try to fit that ball in there and when not to. I feel like Zerrick has been making some good decisions in fall camp. Hunter (Johnson), things are slowing down for him a little bit now. Obviously, coming in the spring was very fast with all of the installs and now the second time through he’s able to process it and make better decisions. Chase Brice has done an excellent job coming in. Chase looks like he’s been here for a year, not like he just got here in June. He’s got really good football instincts. The game is slow for him, which is a great compliment for a quarterback. He’s very smooth. I think we’ve got a good group and some good depth there at quarterback. It will be fun to watch these guys compete here for these last couple of weeks to see who’s going to run out there first, second and third.”

Competition at tight end

“I think Milan (Richard) and D.J. (Greenlee) have probably been the two. Each of those guys kind of has their special skill set. Some guys might be better in the pass. Some guys might be better in the run. We’re looking for guys that can do both of them, so we don’t have to make a lot of substitutions. Really, it’s guys working on their weakness because they all have a certain strength. I think through practice, but I think those guys have done a good job when we’ve gotten the stadium, especially in some of our scrimmage work.”

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