Sideline Report: Hyatt saw stars after head injury, Venables does it all


by - Senior Writer -
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Chad Smith has been stellar on special teams

CLEMSON – Head coach Dabo Swinney appeared to be pleased with Wednesday’s situational scrimmage in Death Valley, but Saturday’s scrimmage inside the stadium will likely begin to tell us who sits where on the depth chart.

Swinney reiterated the Kelly Bryant has a strong hold on the starting job – basically saying Bryant would have to monumentally regress over the final two weeks – and that Hunter Johnson and Zerrick Cooper are pushing each other for the second spot.

But I find it interesting that Swinney keeps mentioning that the true test comes during the games, and the true starter – the one that is the guy by the road tests at Virginia Tech or Louisville – will play his way into that position once they start keeping score.

In other words – Bryant will run out there to take the first snaps, but Cooper and Johnson will also each get their shot to shine.

*Linebacker Chad Smith had the line of the day Wednesday when he was talking about making an impact on special teams and specifically kickoff coverage.

“Coach Venables is out there coaching us, and he bets us that he can run down on kickoff coverage and beat us down there,” Smith said. “He can do everything but kick.”

Smith also told us he’s been working at the MIKE (middle) and SAM (strongside) linebacker spots.

*Running back Tavien Feaster was critical of his play Wednesday, saying, “I feel like I let my teammates down. Some days I play to get by, but I have to turn it up these last few days of camp and prove to them that I can play this year.

“I feel like I am close (to being where he needs to be) and then some days I feel like I fall back a little bit. I have to be more consistent, and I have to be ready when my day comes. I respect everybody in the room and I know how hard they work. If somebody beats me out I have to respect that and work harder to beat him out.”

Feaster said he is working on kickoff return but is not fielding punts. He has another position on punt return.

*Cornerback Mark Fields agreed to do an interview after the scrimmage, but it was obvious he didn’t want to be there (and if I had just practiced in the heat for two hours, I would want to hit the showers, too), but he did say that he thinks he’s had a great camp and is pushing for a starting spot.

*As you know, left tackle Mitch Hyatt missed some time after suffering concussion-like symptoms. He was hit in the head with a ball last week, and I asked him that happened.

“It was just a freak accident,” he said. “Taylor Hearn and Hunter Johnson were throwing it back and forth and Taylor was just launching them at him. They were messing around before practice, and I wasn’t paying attention. I bent down to grab my helmet, and I got hit almost in the eye. It was right above the eye. It was something stupid and dumb, but it’s one of those things. It took me to the ground, but I am glad to be back.”

*Linebacker Kendall Joseph said the coaches have to get on the players every once in a while, but most of the policing is done by the players. He said the defensive players know they can be pretty good, but they know they have to put in the work.

Joseph also said that the secondary doesn’t get the attention that the front seven gets, but he says there is talent up and down the roster and will surprise some people.

*Cornerback Trayvon Mullen says all of the corners “are out there competing and working to see who will play, play with the best technique and get after guys.”

Mullen said that freshmen A.J. Terrell and LeAnthony Williams are learning fast and came in ready to play. Mullen said that Terrell – who is playing on the boundary – has had a good camp and is “just missing a few things.”

He also said he is working atop the depth chart – along with Ryan Carter and K’Von Wallace.


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