Tony Elliott works with the running backs at practice
Tony Elliott works with the running backs at practice

Wednesday Night Practice Insider: Venables and Elliott talk spring practice

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Clemson held a situational scrimmage inside the Poe Indoor Practice Facility Wednesday evening, and we are allowed to speak with offensive coordinator Tony Elliott and defensive coordinator Brent Venables.

I asked Elliott how much things have changed now that Jeff Scott is at USF, and he said he hasn’t seen major changes.

“As far as the job, not a lot has changed,” Elliott said. “I think we will see the real impact when we get to the season with Jeff’s responsibilities there. But I tell you what, it’s refreshing because I watch Tyler Grisham and his passion and his enthusiasm. The biggest thing for us is we don’t want to disrupt the chemistry, and I want to make sure the chemistry is there so I can’t make it about something new for me.”

Elliott was asked about the mid-year enrollees, and he said he likes what tight end Sage Ennis brings to the team and thinks the offensive linemen looked “like we want them to look when they show up.” He then said that wide receiver EJ Williams reminds him of Justyn Ross, just a step faster.

He was asked about the defensive players – specifically Bryan Bresee - and he said that Bresee stands out because of his size but loves Myles Murphy. "Oh my gosh," Elliott said. "That guy there is definitely as good as advertised."

He said that Murphy came in polished.

Elliott was asked about the team’s self-scouting, and he said 3rd-and-3 could be a lot better. He was also asked that when he watches the second half of the loss to LSU, does anything stand out or is there anything he wishes he had done a little different.

The answer isn’t surprising – give the ball to running back Travis Etienne a little more.

Elliott only had one word when describing quarterback DJ Uiagalelei. “Wow.” He said he was around Tajh Boyd and then Deshaun Watson and then Trevor Lawrence and now Uiagalelei. He said Uiagalelei is poised and the movement of the defense doesn’t seem to rattle him. He also raved about the arm strength, which we’ve all seen.

Venables had team manager David Seville standing beside him during the early part of the interview and said, “Who’s been bad, David?” Seville answered with a quick, “No one.”

As Seville walked away, Venables said, “That wasn’t exactly true.” And then broke into a huge smile.

Venables said he saw his guys play with a lot of effort and guys were hitting. He likes the length and speed he has, but some of the young guys are a mixed bag early.

“We have a lot of guys going out in the back seven, and upfront,” Venables said. “We got into a lot of first and second down situations, and then third-and-long and then fourth down. There is a lot to be excited about but we have a long way to go before we are a good football team or a good defense.”

Venables said SAM linebacker Mike Jones was one of the standouts during the scrimmage. “He can do multiple things, and he was good out there today.”

He said he has seen a different side to Xavier Thomas this spring. Said Xavier had a hard year last year with the concussion and missing practices but said he was a starter on a good defense last season and he didn’t have to be Superman and did his part. He said if Thomas hadn’t done his job, then someone would have found him and exploited that weakness.

"He's got a good attitude and he's got a good awareness about where he is and what he needs to do to make improvement,” Venables said. “He's done a good job coming back with the right mindset."

Venables said the three freshmen defensive linemen – Bresee and Murphy and Demonte Capehart – have had their good moments and bad moments but are three big, physical, guys.

As for Bresee, he said, "He is what you thought -- high energy, high effort, big-time motor, got a humility about him. He has done a really good job. He had a good paw drill today."

He said that corner Fred Davis is still learning how to practice, but with the injuries to corner is “getting baptized” and is getting a bunch of reps.

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