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What we heard: Wednesday's scrimmage

Clemson held its second scrimmage of the spring in Death Valley on Wednesday to continue the evaluation phase of spring practice. With the spring game approaching, the end of spring football is coming to a close, but there are still plenty of chances for the Tigers to be evaluated before summer workout sessions begin.

Here is what we heard following the scrimmage:

“I think we got a lot accomplished in the first 10 days,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “We have a lot to evaluate off of this tape. I am anxious to watch the film. I thought there was really good competition out there today. There were wins and losses on both sides.”

One of the areas Swinney said will need to be addressed was the amount of penalties the team racked up on both sides of the ball.

“Those are the types of things that cost you ball games,” he said. “They cost you momentum in ball games. Those are definitely some things we can learn from and teach from.”

While Clemson struggled with penalties and some dropped balls from the receivers in the scrimmage, Swinney liked the way his team responded when he told them he would be having the quarterbacks go live.

“I did not tell anybody until right before. I did not want them to stew on it. I just said, hey, ‘We are going live.’ It was very good for both sides, to see those guys and how they handled the pressure,” Swinney said.

With the amount of talent competing for the starting quarterback role, Swinney wanted to have more to evaluate on, and he thought that freshman Hunter Johnson had a great day.

“I thought he had the best day for sure today,” Swinney said. “Outside of those two things, he was very poised and threw some really nice balls and took advantage of his opportunities. He made some really nice runs, extended some plays with his legs and really, for the most part, where it needed to be.”

Co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott agreed with Swinney, and stated he liked the confidence level he saw from the early enrollee.

“He looks confident stepping in there and calling plays to the offensive line. He is going to the right spots with the balls. If it was not there, he was pulling it down and extending plays with his legs.”

Elliott also liked the way quarterbacks Zerrick Cooper and Kelly Bryant ran the ball. He added the biggest improvement he saw from the offense on Wednesday in comparison to the last scrimmage was in the run game.

“I thought we were very consistent running the football, creating a new line of scrimmage,” he said. “The backs were running hard. From my group, the biggest improvement was I thought Fuller. He had a good day. Tavien (Feaster) probably had his best day running the ball. There’s a couple of things that I have to do better to help him from a pass protection standpoint.”

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive coordinator Brent Venables was pleased with the effort he saw from his unit, but still thinks there is a lot that needs improvement. Dorian O’Daniel had one of the best defensive performances of the scrimmage with two sacks and a pass breakup, and he is confident that the defense will be able to make the necessary corrections as the team continues to train.

“We came out here to compete and try to do better than we did the last scrimmage,” he said. “A lot of little things that we need to correct, but we just have to keep working and keep getting better. We still have a long way to go. There’s just a lot of little things but confident in going forward.”

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