Offensive scrimmage notes: Moving Day


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Kelly Bryant is battling Nick Schuessler for the backup spot
Kelly Bryant is battling Nick Schuessler for the backup spot

CLEMSON – It’s Move-In Day on Clemson’s campus, but inside of Death Valley it was moving day.

Who will find themselves moving up or down the depth chart after Saturday’s first scrimmage?

Deshaun Watson threw two touchdown passes and for 115 yards in limited action, and running back Adam Choice had a pair of 65-yard runs and three touchdowns to highlight the near 100-play Clemson football scrimmage on Saturday morning at Memorial Stadium. It was the second of three scrimmages for Dabo Swinney’s Tigers during the preseason.

For the offense, there weren’t a lot of surprises, but Swinney said that the explosive plays on offense didn’t bode well for his thoughts on the defense.

“It was a big day for us as we continue our plan of preparation,” Swinney told the media Saturday afternoon. “It was a tough day. These guys are coming off of a tough practice yesterday. This is really our first true, full scrimmage where we just let them play and see how some of these guys respond. There's good and there's bad because when there are really good plays on offense, there's really bad plays on defense. It's kind of a mixed bag. There are a lot of positives.”

For as many positives as there were on offense, Swinney said there are still little things that need to be cleaned up before they’re ready to take the field against Auburn in just three weeks.

“We did have two screw-ups coming off the sidelines today,” Swinney said. “My biggest disappointment with the offense today were probably the procedural issues right off the sideline, which is incredibly disappointing and then we had one turnover and we had another ball come out. The first group, we're getting closer to being ready to play.”

Quarterbacks

“Deshaun right out of the gate made some huge plays. We challenged all of the other quarterbacks. It's a really competitive situations between Nick Schuessler and Kelly Bryant. Both of those guys are so much better than where the were at this time last year. I'm really proud of Kelly. He seems like the last few days he's settled into who he is and playing his game. He's really pulled the trigger on some throws that he was a little more tentative during the first part of camp. Nick is just a steady guy. He knows what he's doing. He makes some nice throws. He had some really nice throws today. Both of those guys, I'm very encouraged. Tucker Israel and Zerrick Cooper are both improving. It's the best Tucker has ever been and he didn't even have a chance last year after he missed all of camp and almost the whole season. He's competing. Zerrick has a lot on him but is certainly improving.”

Running backs

“I'm pleased with our backs. Wayne has been as good a guy as we've had in camp. His effort is tremendous. His drive every single day is an inspiration to his teammates. I feel great about him. The other backs all did some good things. Adam Choice had a 65-yard touchdown run on third-and-one. He busted through and it was good to see him have a good day today. He's still a guy that in the pass-pro game he has to be a little more complete. C.J. Fuller, he's got explosive power and a great vision. He's a tough guy to tackle. He's got speed to go with it and he's excellent in the passing game - maybe our best pass protector with Gallman. He put the ball on the ground. The ball got ripped out and we were fortunate to get it back down in the redzone. That's something that can't happen. Tyshon Dye had some nice plays. All of our backs did some good things.”

Tavien Feaster

“Feaster, right now, he just doesn't play fast enough. We all know this guy is an absolute jet but he's a finesse player right now. We'll get that out him because he's got a gear that not many people have. He runs in fourth gear and we know he's got that fifth gear, so we have to get him to cut it loose a little bit more. He'll make some 20-yard runs that ought to be 50-yard runs. I'm excited about what he can do in the kickoff return game, which we looked at today. He had a chance to make a nice return and he gets tackled from behind, something that shouldn't happen. He's just kind of a cruiser right now. He doesn't know how to cut it loose like he needs to. He'll figure that out, but what a really talented young man.”

Wide receivers

“It's really great to see Deshaun and the chemistry that's developing with our receivers. Mike Williams, Deon Cain, Artavis Scott and Ray-Ray McCloud - those four guys have been exceptional. Trevion Thompson is right there nipping at the heels of that group. I'm really proud of him. Hunter Renfrow - we all know he's a heck of a player - but he's been out the last few days after he strained his hamstring. Really good to see some guys make some plays.”

Scrimmage notes

Watson completed a 40-yard pass to Mike Williams on the first play of the scrimmage to get things off to a great start for the offense. Williams is coming off a 2015 season in which he played just 12 snaps in the first game before suffering a neck injury that ended his season. He was a 1000-yard receiver in 2014.

Later in the drive Watson completed a 13-yard scoring pass to All-ACC receiver Artavis Scott, who is the leading returning active receiver in the conference with 169 career catches.

Watson then completed a 40-yard scoring pass to sophomore receiver Deon Cain on the second drive. The Tiger signal caller from Gainesville, Ga., finished the day 7-10 for 115 yards and two scores in limited action.

Schuessler had his second straight scrimmage completing at least 70 percent of his passes as the graduate student from Grayson, Ga., hit on 7-10 passes for 41 yards. He was 12-16 for 139 yards in the previous scrimmage.

Bryant was 3-4 for 59 yards, including a 48-yard scoring pass to Ray-Ray McCleod. Bryant, who had a 6.8 rushing average on 23 attempts last year, also scored on a nine-yard run. McCloud was the top receiver in terms of yardage with three catches for 60 yards. Cain had 2-49.

The top rusher was Choice, who had 10 carries for 169 yards and three touchdowns. His last two rushes were a pair of 65-yard touchdown runs. The native of Thomasville, Ga., has not played since the 2014 season when he suffered a torn ACL at midseason in a game at Boston College. He finished that year with 50 rushes for 218 yards.

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