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Wednesday practice notebook: Position battles heating up

Six practices into fall camp, Clemson’s running back competition hasn’t gained much clarity.

Clemson co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tony Elliott said after the Tigers’ practice Wednesday that the battle at running back between C.J. Fuller, Adam Choice and Tavien Feaster remains closely contested.

“No separation yet,” Elliott said. “But I tell you what, they’re all working hard. You can see a different look in each one of their eyes. They all want it, but they also understand too that it’s possibly going to be by committee. So they’re all trying to make their stake to be the number one guy to run out, but at the same time they’re pushing each other and getting better.”

Elliott feels Choice shot out of the starting gate in camp, and that Feaster has come on strong over the past couple of practices. Fuller, he said, has been the most steady of the three.

As for Feaster, Elliott has seen his all-around consistency as a player improve significantly since his freshman season a year ago.

“Just his consistency in everything that he does,” Elliott said. “Wayne (Gallman) set the standard in our room for the way that you prepare, the way you perform, the way that you practice. So, his practice habits are better. You can see that he’s consistently putting plays together, whereas in the past you may have saw a flash and then you have a bonehead mistake. And that’s just a function of a lack of intensity at that time.

“He understands what it takes to be that guy, and he’s really, really pressing to try to be consistent every play.”

Tight battles on the O-line. The battles at right tackle and right guard have been tight thus far, according to Elliott, who said right tackle Sean Pollard is being pushed by Tremayne Anchrum and right guard Tyrone Crowder is being paced by John Simpson.

“I’d say the tightest race would be with the tackle between Pollard and Anchrum, and next I would say it would be between John Simpson and Tyrone,” Elliott said.

Clemson divvying up reps at QB. Elliott said Clemson is splitting the reps evenly amongst the quarterbacks right now and giving each of the competitors an opportunity to show what they can do.

“We’ll have a couple live scrimmages and hopefully have some separation, but right now, we’re pressing them all, giving them an opportunity to see the offense and see who can manage it the best,” Elliott said. “And then once we get closer to the game, we’ll manage those reps a little better.”

Etienne adjusting well. Travis Etienne played in an option offense at Jennings (La.) High School, so Clemson’s no-huddle attack has been a big adjustment for him.

Elliott is proud of the transition the freshman running back has made so far and said the thing that jumps out to him the most about Etienne is his explosiveness.

“Man, he’s fast,” Elliott said. “I thought Wayne had a fast first step. The difference here is he has a fast first step, and he has a fast finish.”

Tailgate party for Tigers in the pros. The Tigers had a tailgate party to watch Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans take on Ben Boulware and the Carolina Panthers in their preseason opener Wednesday night.

“It’s a special opportunity,” Elliott said. “We’re going to make sure we take the opportunity as a team to honor those guys and watch and spend some time together, but at the same time we have a quick turnaround. So we’ll watch some of it, and then the coaches will go to work to make sure we’re prepared for tomorrow morning’s practice.”

After the practice tomorrow morning, Clemson will practice again on Friday before having its first scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday.

 

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