Scrimmage recap: QB competition heating up, receivers impressive


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The QB competition is heating up in fall camp
The QB competition is heating up in fall camp

CLEMSON – The Clemson offense shined in Saturday’s stadium scrimmage. The defense has work to do.

The early part of fall camp is usually the time for the defense to lead the way, but it was the offense that set the tone early Saturday with a 70-yard touchdown drive. Head coach Dabo Swinney told the media that he was particularly impressed with the wide receivers.

“Talking about catches, Tee Higgins had a great day. T.J. Chase had a good day, Amari (Rodgers) had a good day. Diondre Overton had two big catches, one that was one-handed, although he came back and missed one, he has got to be consistent,” Swinney said. “Trevion (Thompson) got banged up and couldn’t finish. Cornell (Powell) had one or two catches but didn’t have many opportunities down the field today. Will Swinney had a big play on third down and a big run after the catch, he is one of our most improved guys.

“DK (Derion Kendrick) had a couple of short plays; he had one broken up downfield. The receivers overall caught the ball well, give the line credit I thought they protected well, the backs stepped up. The quarterbacks put the ball where it needed it to be, and the receivers made some huge plays.”

The running backs each did something that caught Swinney’s attention.

“All the backs ran hard. No. 9 (Travis Etienne) had some really good runs, (Tavien) Feaster had a couple of tough, physical finishes. Adam Choice has had a really good camp. He has differentiated himself this camp,” Swinney said.

Swinney said the scrimmage was clean from a penalty and turnover standpoint.

“There was about 106 plays with no turnovers. That’s a big deal. Almost had one, Dawk (Brian Dawkins, Jr.) almost had one, but he was out of bounds. No turnovers, a few undisciplined plays, we just offsides a couple a couple of times. Defensively the second series we had a three-and-out but two guys just offsides, and those are the things that will get you beat. It starts with Clemson and doing the things that we can control.”

Special teams

“(Greg) Huegel hit a 50-yarder, (BT) Potter kicked off really well. We’re not letting Huegel kick off just yet; we're holding him a little bit. Alex Spence had a good one. Probably the biggest disappointment is on a tight punt, one of our punters dropped the ball for a safety. We just can’t make mistakes like that in critical situations.”

Goal line and short-yardage

“Good day for the offense, we can do better, far from perfect. I thought they controlled the day. Defensively we did some good things; we fought really well on the goal line, both groups did really well on the goal line, they dominated that part of it. The first two groups won the short yardage battles. They finished with a good couple competitive wins; our pride group played very well. We got a ton of pride reps in today. We need to make sure we can get them on tape and really see where they are.”

Lyn-J Dixon

“I didn’t know what to expect, some of these guys you don’t really ever know until you start coaching them. I watched the tape; I knew he was a really talented player. He was playing at a really small school, and now all the sudden you show up to Clemson, and I don’t know what to expect. He has been a great addition. A pleasant surprise. I have been very impressed with his willingness to protect and his natural instincts and toughness.”

How does Dixon compare to Etienne at this same point last year?

“Similar in explosiveness and kind of that getting the ball and things happen, but ahead of him from a protection standpoint. Just a little more natural to it. Travis had never pass protected ever, it took him a little longer to earn the trust. Not to say that Lynn-J is a senior, but for a guy walking in here out of high school, who didn’t participate in spring practice he has really demonstrated the willingness and loves to try to improve. He is not perfect, it starts with the effort and toughness. We have got to coach technique and fundamentals.”

The quarterbacks

“All three of them stood out. Kelly set the tempo, didn’t see any stats but I bet they were pretty good. All three had touchdown throws, and all three fit the ball into tight windows. There is a lot of competition, and Kelly won all his reps and Trevor won all his reps. They are just continuing to focus on what they can control. Today was one of the better days of the group, I thought they all played really well.”

Timeframe for making a quarterback decision

“I’d like to know yesterday. Ideally, I would have liked to know in the spring. That’s why you practice. Kelly has accepted the challenge; he hasn’t backed down from the challenge. He could have walked out of here in May and said see ya boys. Go somewhere where it might not be as challenging or a little easier path, and he said no I want to stay right here. It has been great to see him compete; his game is at a whole other level than it was at any point last year. Trevor is everything that you think he is. He is a very gifted player; he’s still a freshman.

“Chase just won’t go away. Everybody wants Chase to go away. He’s a battler, he’s got moxie, and he can throw the ball. I know y’all want me to say hey this is the guy but I’m just telling you that we have three guys that we can win with and so ideally once we get 7-10 days out, we will say this is how we will go into our first game. If it’s a big separation that makes it easy. If its close, we have to ask what our next step of evaluation is. You have to go and give the guys opportunities to play in games and go from there.”

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