Swinney sees good and bad in first scrimmage

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Swinney said it was a really good scrimmage but a lot of work left to do in three weeks. (TigerNet Staff)
Swinney said it was a really good scrimmage but a lot of work left to do in three weeks. (TigerNet Staff)

Dabo Swinney scrimmage comments
Brent Venables interview
Tajh Boyd interview

CLEMSON – The Clemson football team ran just over 100 plays in an intra-squad scrimmage Saturday morning in Death Valley, a scrimmage highlighted by big plays on the offense and the continued emergence of running back Zac Brooks.

Quarterback Tajh Boyd was 12-for-18 for 245 yards and four touchdowns, while Brooks had seven carries for 79 yards. Receiver Sammy Watkins – playing mostly at his old slot position – had two catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns. His scoring receptions covered 65 yards and 39 yards.

Head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
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said he saw good things on both sides of the ball.

“I thought that there were really good things on both sides. From my perspective as a head coach, you wish you could go scrimmage somebody else,” he said. “As a head coach, they are all yours, and you’re never truly happy. If you did a really good job in short-yardage on defense that means you didn’t do a good job on offense. There were a lot of wins and losses on both sides. But we are very thin in the secondary, and we have a lot of guys down right now. We only had about four corners all day, so we were really thin. But from my perspective, it was a really good scrimmage. We have a lot of work to do before we are ready to play three weeks from today.”

Senior Roderick McDowell had four carries for 30 yards, and Daniel product C.J. Davidson had 10 carries for 31 yards.

“I thought our backs ran hard. We missed a few plays that were open there with our second group offensively,” Swinney said. “Defensively, we did a good job on the goal line and our first group created some turnovers. I thought we competed hard and we will learn from this tape.”

Swinney said the Tigers – who have practiced or scrimmaged eight of the last nine days – will take the rest of Saturday and Sunday off and just watch tape.

“We are going to give them a rest tonight – they looked a little tired today, and they should,” he said. “That was six days in a row of physical contact, and we don’t ever go six days in a row with the kind of contact that we’ve had, but they pushed through. That is what camp is all about. We will come back tomorrow with no practice, just meetings, watch film and really just slow it back down.”

Roommate battle

Boyd threw one interception during the scrimmage, a slant pass that was picked off by his roommate and friend in linebacker Quandon Christian. Boyd said Christian was begging him for an interception before the scrimmage, and Boyd told him no way. Boyd said he will hear about the pick for “the rest of the weekend.”

“I thought Tajh played really well outside of one play,” Swinney said.” It was a poor read on an interception by Quandon. He just didn’t read it. Quandon buzzed right underneath it, picked it, and almost scored. Tajh just didn’t read it. It was a good job by the offense getting him down on the ground. That was his worst play of the day. He made some really good decision and really good throws.”

On the freshmen

“We had a couple of freshmen make mistakes early, just not in tune with the tempo of a game environment. “

On the tempo and emergence of “Pride” group

“I thought the tempo was really good. The other positive was that we didn’t have a lot of penalties. We had ACC refs here, and it was officiated just like it would be officiated on game day. Another thing that was encouraging to me was we got to rep three groups, and everybody got a chance to rep and learn the system. That is probably the best-looking “Pride” group – we call our third team the “Pride” – that is the best group we’ve had since I’ve been the head coach, offensively and defensively. That to me is a sign that we have made progress as a program. We have a lot of good players out there in that group. “

Secondary depleted yet again

Swinney said that defensive backs Garry Peters, Darius Robinson, Martin Jenkins and Mackensie Alexander all missed the scrimmage with injuries, and Adrian Baker left the scrimmage with an ankle injury after just one series. Swinney said that Breeland manned one corner position, while Marcus Edmond and Ryan Carter took the other spot.

Swinney said that he hopes the injured players are all back by the middle of next week.

On if the team is more physical

“We are not really practicing very different, but we are a more physical team from a mental standpoint and a depth standpoint. When you have depth, the competition is a lot tougher and makes everything better. Guys are competing trying to win a job. “

On the wide receivers

“It’s good to get Mike Williams back today. He came back yesterday, but didn’t really do a whole lot. Today is really his first practice in a few days and his first career catch in Death Valley was a 70-yard touchdown over C.J. Jones. It is really good to see him back in action. It’s unfortunate that T.J. [Green] is out because he is missing some key work. Martavis [Bryant] was back at it today after missing some time. Charone [Peake] was great. G-Hop [Germone Hopper] is still really, really good or really, really bad. He put the ball on the ground twice today. He’s going in for a touchdown and fumbled the ball out of the endzone. There are things that he’s got to mature from and do a better job.”

On the offensive line competition

“I think there may be one or two spots that go a little longer than that, but after next weekend’s scrimmage we’ll have a pretty good idea who looks like they’re going to start this first game and then they’ve got to go perform and keep their job.”

On Isaiah Battle

“He’s made progress. I’m proud of Isaiah. He’s more engaged than he was during the spring. He’s been competing. He’s not been a distraction. He was a little bit of a distraction during the spring, maturity wise. That has not been an issue. He’s been solid. He’s coming along. He has done some good things.”

On the running backs

“I didn’t know Zac [Brooks] was the leading rusher, but he ran really hard. He ran behind his pads, broke some tackles, showed some speed, and just continues to get better. [Roderick McDowell] Hot Rod was good. He made some nice runs and some nice finishes on some runs. He broke some tackles and had a nice catch for a touchdown. It’s a good start for all of those backs.”

“Tyshon [Dye] has done well. He’s missed some time and yesterday was his first day back so it was his first scrimmage. He did okay with his opportunity. D.J. [Howard]- we held him today. I tell you C.J. Davidson has really had a great camp. We are real comfortable with the group we have. He’s been as good of a player as we’ve had in camp. All I can judge it on is practice. He’s been excellent.”

On the tight ends

“Our tight ends have really been excellent. [Stanton] Seckinger, Jordan Leggett, Jay Jay McCullough all have really come on. I like our young talent. They are really what you want at that position. Darrell Smith is just as solid as this concrete that we’re standing on. I’m really excited about that position. He’s caught more balls in camp than he has in four years. It’s been fun to see him grow. It’s been good to see Seckinger, Leggett and Jay Jay step up and become dependable guys with [Sam Cooper] Coop being out.”

On Mackensie Alexander’s health

“He’s just been getting better each day. He did a pretty good amount of work yesterday planting and that sort of stuff. He’s feeling better, but it’s one of those things that you’ve got to make sure he’s healthy. I’m hoping that sometime this week we can get him back going. Physically, he’s ready and mentally he’s very engaged. We’ve just got to get him back out there so he can get the reps.”

Scrimmage stats

Tajh Boyd 12-18 245 4TD 1 INT
Cole Stoudt 10-17 111 1TD 0 INT
Nick Schuessler 3-6 73 1TD 0 INT

Rod McDowell 4-30
Zac Brooks 7-79
Wayne Gallman 6- -1
Tyshon Dye 4-8
C.J. Davidson 10-31

Sammy Watkins 2-104 2TDs (65 Yd, 39 Yd)
Charone Peake 3-23
Martavis Bryant 3-41 1TD
Jordan Leggett 3-44
Darrell Smith 2-13 1TD
Adam Humphries 4-34
Mike Williams 2-70
Germone Hopper 3-86
Daniel Rodriguez 9yd TD

Quandon Christian 2 Fumble recoveries, 1 INT
Shaq Lawson 6 Tkls, 2 sacks
D.J. Reader 5 Tkls
Jayron Kearse 5 Tkls
Tony Steward 5 Tkls, 1 Sack
Carlos Watkins 2 Tkls, 2 Sacks

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