Spring Scrimmage Insider: Venables wants to puke, QB's have a good day


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Chase Brice was a standout in Wednesday's scrimmage
Chase Brice was a standout in Wednesday's scrimmage

CLEMSON – Sounds like the Clemson offense had some success in today’s scrimmage, and watching the secondary made defensive coordinator Brent Venables want to, umm, puke.

The Tigers held a two-hour scrimmage in the indoor practice facility Wednesday afternoon, the last true practice before breaking for spring break. The buzz, of course, surrounded the quarterbacks.

One observer came out of the facility early, grinned at the throng of media and said, “Why didn’t you tell me Trevor Lawrence was the truth?”

Lawrence, the talented freshman out of Cartersville, Ga., had two long runs today. Offensive coordinator Tony Elliott told me that Lawrence “ran away from people” on both of the runs. Elliott said Lawrence’s athleticism hasn’t been a surprise, but his speed has.

Elliott went on to say that Lawrence is poised and is picking up the offense, while head coach Dabo Swinney said that one of Lawrence’s runs was a 50-yarder. Add in the fact that he has been throwing the ball all over the yard, and it sounds like he’s as good as advertised.

"He can fly," Swinney said. "He has the ability to leave people. He can move."

Hunter Johnson was limited after tweaking a hamstring early in the session, but Chase Brice was the author of the two longest scoring drives of the day. Swinney said both drives might have been 15 plays or more. Hunter Renfrow, fresh off his engagement, raved about Brice and laughed and said, “The first scoring drive he led and it was about 30 plays.” A little exaggeration, but Brice isn’t going away.

As for starter Kelly Bryant, he continues to be the most comfortable player on the field. He knows the offense and knows the protections, but Elliott said Bryant knows the other three are pushing for playing time. Swinney then said that he feels like he could go win with any of the four. Spring practice has been fun, and it seems like we already can’t wait for fall camp.

Swinney said several young players learned some lessons in the scrimmage.

"It was kind of what I thought it’d be today. It was incredibly competitive, like very, very competitive," Swinney said. "A lot of good on both sides. Some bad plays. Some young guys got exposed a little bit. There’s no greater teacher than that moment. You’re just playing ball and having to react. Everybody is off the field. It was good. A lot of good but way too much offense and defense where you lost to Clemson - things that we control like lining up not in the neutral, being in a legal formation, not jumping offsides, just simple things that we can do a better job of. There were a lot of big plays on both sides. A couple of turnovers. Trayvon Mullen had a pick-six. We had a couple of guys get dinged up, but I don’t think anybody is going to miss time. Spring break is coming at a good time."

*Venables was short and to the point in his dealings with the media.

“We still like our d-line. We've got a lot of work to do in the secondary,” Venables said. “I thought it was kind of sloppy today. We're hurting at corner, probably as bad since 2012.”

What concerns him about the secondary?

“All of it. Just say it and it applies,” Venables said. “We got what we got, so hopefully we can get there with our front four. It’s everything. It’s long term, short term. It makes you want to puke looking at it.”

Swinney said that Venables isn’t happy if anyone scores just once, so it figures he wouldn’t be happy after Wednesday. "Anytime anybody scores, he’s never happy," Swinney laughed.

*Venables may not have been happy with the secondary, but Swinney said that Trayvon Mullen had a pick-six and Tanner Muse also had an interception. Mullen, Mark Fields, and A.J. Terrell have separated themselves at the corner spot in camp.

*Elliott said that running back Tavien Feaster is slightly ahead of Travis Etienne at this point in camp. Elliott said that Etienne, who needs to work on his blocking, missed a couple of assignments today that stood out to Elliott. Elliott said he is so busy trying to go fast he usually doesn’t notice those things, but those two stood out.

As for Feaster, Elliott said the coaches noticed after the season ended that Feaster was too heavy and he’s been working on getting the weight off. Elliott said Feaster has had his old burst back in camp.

*I asked Elliott about Derion Kendrick and he laughed and said Jeff Scott “roughed me up a little bit” when he compared Kendrick to Sammy Watkins. However, he said Kendrick is still making plays. Swinney said, “Kendrick can help us anywhere.”

*Swinney said that defensive tackle Albert Huggins has had an outstanding camp.

*As we reported earlier, the Tigers unveiled five new tombstones Wednesday celebrating the wins over ranked opponents on the road. I asked Swinney if he was going to need a bigger graveyard, and he smiled and said, "I will build an upper deck if I have to."


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