Scrimmage Insider: Bryant tosses four TD passes, Venables runs the defense
|Wednesday, March 28, 2018, 7:52 PM- -|
CLEMSON – No one was happy after Wednesday’s Death Valley scrimmage.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was asked if the team improved from the first scrimmage of the spring, and he shook his head.
“Not really,” he said. “The intensity wasn’t what it needed to be today and the body language wasn’t what it needed to be today.”
Swinney then gave the media some helpful advice, telling them that they might be waiting awhile on defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who spent 20 minutes running his defense once the practice was over.
Venables said that a veteran cornerback lined up offsides on the first play of the scrimmage, and one play later a veteran defensive lineman jumped offsides. Those miscues set the tone, and Venables was not happy. More on him later.
The offense had some bright spots.
“It was good and bad. There were some ebbs and flows,” Swinney said. “I thought the offense came out fast. The defense finished better than they started. There were some big plays today. It was either feast or famine that way. We wouldn’t do a whole lot and then there was a big play. We probably found the end zone more today than we have in a while. So there were some big plays made. It’s just consistency. We line up offsides and then jump offsides. We will evaluate the tape.
“As coaches we tend to focus on the negative. My big thing to the coaches is let’s don’t worry about winning the scrimmage. Let’s worry about exposing guys because that is where you can really evaluate. We are seeing right now who can do it and who isn’t where they need to be.”
*Amari Rodgers showed up in the return game, with a big play on punt return and a big play on kickoff return. Swinney said Rodgers would start at return if the season started today. Swinney said his four players that stood out were Spence, Cornell Powell, A.J. Terrell and Travon Mullen.
*Derion Kendrick strained his hamstring and didn’t practice today. He will be back next week. Tight end Braden Galloway will be turned loose next week. Galloway is recovering from offseason foot surgery.
*Swinney said he was pleased with the quarterbacks and was trying to figure out how to play with two huddles and two footballs. He said they took too many sacks.
*Offensive lineman Jackson Carman is cross-training some at guard. Swinney said the coaches wanted Carman to shed some weight, and there was concern after Carman went home to Ohio for spring break. Carman came back to Clemson four pounds lighter.
*Tony Elliott told me he is excited about the running backs, and especially veteran Adam Choice. Elliott said the tempo wasn’t where he wanted it to be today, and Kelly Bryant echoed those comments. Elliott put the blame on the quarterbacks.
*Swinney says A.J. Terrell, Trayvon Mullen and Mark Fields have all caught his eye this spring. He said he likes the secondary, but they are thin and need for Mario Goodrich and Kyler McMichael to show up this summer ready to play.
All four Clemson quarterbacks threw at least one touchdown pass in a 90-minute scrimmage at Memorial Stadium on Wednesday. It was the second scrimmage and 10th practice of the spring for Dabo Swinney’s Tigers. The team will take a week off for Easter and return to practice April 4.
The offense had the upper hand from the beginning of the scrimmage. Bryant threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Amari Rodgers on the third play of the scrimmage. It was the first of eight plays of 20 yards or more for the Clemson offense.
Bryant threw four touchdown passes, including two in a goal line drill, while Chase Brice, Hunter Johnson and Trevor Lawrence all had one touchdown pass apiece of at least 20 yards. Travis Etienne was the top rusher with 81 yards and a touchdown. Cornell Powell was the top receiver with 81 yards, while Tee Higgins had a pair of touchdown receptions. Tavien Feaster scored three total touchdowns.
“The offense got off to a fast start,” said Swinney. “The offense made a lot of big plays, including on that first drive. But the offense could have been more consistent. It seemed like it was a big play or, a sack or a short gain.
“The defense just didn’t have the right body language today. Perhaps it was a carryover from having nine days off for spring break.
“There is a lot of film to evaluate. Like any time you have a team scrimmage there is a lot of good and a lot that wasn’t so good. If I had to pick a standout today it would be the kicking of Alex Spence. He was three-for-three on field goals and continues to hit the ball well. I thought Cornell Powell stood out as well. I thought Trayvon Mullen and A.J. Terrell played well on defense.
“The quarterbacks all made some big plays, but we took too many sacks. We have to get rid of the ball in some of those situations. Overall I was please with all four quarterbacks. “
The defense did have seven sacks by seven different players (Austin Bryant, Tanner Muse, Denzel Johnson, J.D. Davis, Christian Wilkins, Tre Lamar and Clelin Ferrell). Redshirt freshman LeAnthony Williams had a 30-yard interception return, two passes broken up and three tackles.
Clemson has five spring practices remaining, including the Spring Game on April 14 at 2:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. Admission is free.