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Defense still has work to do

Defensive end Clelin Ferrell liked the way the Clemson defense came out and started Saturday’s scrimmage in Death Valley. They got after the Tigers’ offense and stoned them right from the start, setting the stage for what the rest of the day was going to be like.

The defense owned the scrimmage as it produced seven sacks, 14 tackles for loss and forced two turnovers. The first-team defense also limited the big plays, allowing just a 16-yard run by Kelly Bryant and a 10-yard pass from Bryant to tight end Milan Richard as the only two substantial plays the first-team offense was able to get.

“I really like how we came out,” Ferrell said. “I really like how we got after the offense. The biggest thing I did not like is that we really did not finish well, like Coach (Dabo) Swinney said, at the goal line and stuff like that.

“Overall, I feel like we came out and did really well and stoned them right from the jump.”

Ferrell, who missed a majority of the past week due to concussion protocol, led the Tigers with six tackles, including three tackles behind the line of scrimmage and one sack. Saturday was his first day back at practice.

“I feel like it was just okay,” he said. “I did not practice this whole week, but me being one of the leaders on this defense, I feel like regardless of the fact I have not practice, I have to step out there and perform before I can lead.

“I did okay. I had a couple of mistakes and made some plays. It was an okay day for me out there today.”

Okay was basically the way Ferrell described his feelings on the defense’s overall performance.

“Being a guy who was on this defense last year, I don’t feel like it was good enough. We have a lot of stuff we have to work on,” the redshirt sophomore said. “There were a lot of good things. A lot of the young guys got some good experience, but there were a lot of things where I feel like we were not locked in mentally.

“There were some good things out there, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like it was just an okay today. It could have been a whole lot better.”

Don’t tell that to the Clemson offense, who was beating its head up against the wall just trying to get any kind of rhythm going.

“They were competing,” Ferrell said. “That is something I look for every day with those guys … how are they going to come out and fight? We are a very talented group (on defense), but that does not mean I don’t want to see those guys come out here and compete. That’s what they do. They are really hard working and they got us on a couple of plays so it was really good seeing that.”

Though he had the best scrimmage of anyone on the defense, Ferrell knows he can still play better. His goal now is to watch the film and come out to practice on Monday and see if he can get better.

“Take a couple of small things at a time and work at them day-by-day,” he said. “You can’t really get better at everything when you come back on Monday, but you just try to take a few things at a time, and I think that is going to help us a whole lot in getting ready for the season.”

Clemson will get back to work on Monday with an afternoon practice at Jervey Meadows.

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There was a stark contrast between the performances of Clemson’s offense and its defense in the team’s second full scrimmage of fall camp, which was held on Saturday in Death Valley. First-team (…)