Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott walked away from spring practices in a very, very good mood.
“It was very, very competitive,” he said. “It was good to see guys make plays. I thought the backs at times ran hard. I thought the quarterbacks did some good things, but obviously there are some things we have to clean up.”
Elliott admitted he does not put much stock into the stats from the Orange & White Game. Obviously, he would have liked to have seen a better stat line than 33-of-63 for 266 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions from his quarterbacks, but that’s not what the spring game is about.
He said he will watch the spring game and will evaluate the quarterbacks and the rest of the offense based on other things.
“We are not going to focus on stats at all,” Elliot said. “You have teams mixed up. You try to get them as even as possible so you may have a guy that has not been working with the center. We really just want to see the game management, make sure they are going through the right reads and getting the ball into the right spots.
“We also wanted to see how they handle a little bit of adversity when you watch the film. That is what you are going to focus on, not the stats.”
Elliott admits the race to see who will be Clemson’s new starting quarterback is a very tight one. Heading into summer workouts, Kelly Bryant is the No. 1 guy, but freshmen Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson are right there on his heels and will be pushing Bryant once camp opens. He also can’t totally dismiss what redshirt sophomore Tucker Israel did on Saturday as well.
Israel completed 13 of 19 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown in the Orange & White game. He had the best game by far of all the quarterbacks.
“It is a very, very tight battle,” Elliott said. “You are talking about a situation where Zerrick Cooper and Hunter had not played in the Valley in front of fans. You had 60,000 folks here so you have to give a shout out to the fans. They were challenged and they really made it a special atmosphere. So we could get guys in situations that we have not seen before.”
Clemson will open fall camp in August and will have 30 days to get the quarterbacks and the rest of the offense ready for the season-opener against Kent State on Sept. 2 at Death Valley.
Watch the rest of Elliott’s interview with the media on TCITV.