For Clemson, August has been full of heavy installation, physical training, and diligent playbook studying in order to prepare for the imminent upcoming season. On Saturday, the Tigers were able to take the action from the practice field to Death Valley for their first scrimmage of fall camp.
The media spoke to many players and coaches following Clemson’s two-hour scrimmage including head coach Dabo Swinney, defensive coordinator Brent Venables, co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, quarterback Kelly Bryant, and defensive end Clelin Ferrell.
Here is what we heard:
Saturday was an up-and-down day for the Tigers. Swinney said offensively, the hard work put in during the past few weeks didn’t seem to fully translate onto the field. But, the defense proved to be consistent and won the day in the end.
“There were some good things on both sides,” Swinney said. “I thought the defense was very solid and consistent all day. Just didn’t like how we finished on the goal line, didn’t think they finished well, a little undisciplined, some penalties down there, offside. Offensively, we didn’t really ever get the rhythm that I’d like for us to see.”
Elliott did, however, note that there were good things that came out of Saturday’s scrimmage. Specifically he mentioned wide receiver Diondre Overton, who made some key plays in the passing game. Tight end Cannon Smith had a big play and quarterback Hunter Johnson launched a touchdown pass. He also mentioned freshman running back Travis Etienne’s was impressively fast.
However, he said the offense never got into any rhythm.
“We made some plays, but still a little inconsistent at time,” Elliott said. “Didn’t perform in the red zone like I wanted to and it was self-inflicted. We made a couple of mistakes there. Really proud of how we responded in short yardage and goal line, probably the best session that we’ve had in a long time.”
After the scrimmage, Bryant was eager to study the scrimmage tape in hopes to make the necessary changes and improvements he needs to ensure his team’s success.
“I felt like we were a little up and down, but we finished strong in short yardage and goal line,” Bryant said. “It is something we just have to learn from the tape and get better as camp progresses. Just take it one day at a time.”
Defensively, defensive coordinator Brent Venables said his guys were consistently solid and competitive, but he still sees a lot of room for improvement.
“It was a good competitive day,” Venables said. “Got to evaluate a lot of guys, can’t wait to evaluate the tape. Guys played hard, played tough in parts of the scrimmage, but in other parts we didn’t perform very well. So we have a ton to work on and a lot to improve at fundamentally. But it’s been a good camp up to this point.”
Though the defense won the day, Ferrell couldn’t help but compare this year’s defense to last years. He said this year’s defense still has a lot to work on in order to live up to last year’s defensive hype.
“For me, being a guy who’s been on this defense last year, I would just say it just wasn’t good enough,” Ferrell said. “I feel like we have a lot of things we have to work on. I just felt we weren’t really locked in mentally, but there were good things out there, don’t get me wrong, I feel like it was an okay day.”
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