With less than two weeks remaining until Clemson kicks off the 2017 season, Saturday afternoon’s scrimmage left Clemson’s offense feeling upbeat, while the defense was left deflated and struggling. The media spoke with head coach Dabo Swinney, defensive coordinator Brent Venables and quarterback Kelly Bryant.
Here is what we heard after Saturday’s fall scrimmage:
“We weren’t real good today,” said Venables. “I’m displeased, disappointed, I did not think we came ready to perform. I just didn’t think these guys seized the opportunity. I did not feel like we got ourselves better today.
“(I didn’t like) the effort. I didn’t think we were physical. Just those two things really. That’s it. You guys have been coming to interview us, you know there have been much better days. Today was not one of those.”
Despite that fact that several players including Shaq Smith and Marcus Edmond did not play Saturday due to injury, Venables was particularly dissatisfied with the lack of toughness his defense displayed on the field.
“I can’t be tough for them,” he said. “You cannot teach them how to be tough. They either are or they aren’t. You are either tough … you can’t say ‘today I’m going to be a tough guy.’ Physically you know how to compete. Mentally you know how to compete. If you’re going to be good, not great, if you’re going to just be good, you have to have some toughness to you. I’m not sure if we have that or not, we’ll see.”
The situation of one side dominating the other is difficult for any head coach and Swinney definitely would’ve liked to have seen more balance in the scrimmage.
“As a head coach you are never happy when you walk off of these practice fields when you feel like one side has kind of really won the day,” he said. “I always like to see it be a little more balanced. But today the offense definitely won the day.”
Despite the poor performance from the defense, Swinney was satisfied with the execution and play-making of the offense.
“They really pushed (the defense) around all day,” the Clemson coach said. “They won all of the two-minute drills. Way too many big plays, a bunch of big plays. It didn’t really matter who was the quarterback, running back or receiver.”
“Just offensively, kind of the opposite of what I said last time I met y’all at the scrimmage there. They just had great rhythm all day, throwing and catching. They didn’t have a drop until the very end. It was very encouraging from that standpoint but disappointed defensively because I haven’t really seen us have a day like that in a while where we just didn’t bring the juice.”
Junior quarterback Kelly Bryant also thought the offense did their job well today and was happy with the way each player executed.
“I feel like it was a good day today,” he said. “No matter who is in and behind the center, all of the guys performed today. We had a good day today.”
Swinney has said Bryant is set to be the starting quarterback in the first game against Kent State, unless he “totally goes crazy.” Although that has been said, Bryant knows he has to continue competing hard, with Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson right behind him.
“Every day I wake up and go out there and practice, I’m the starter, so I’m going to try to perform like I’m the starter and do everything that’s asked of me and more,” Bryant said. “So yeah, that’s good coming from Coach Dabo, but I’m still going to have that mindset that I’m the starter and I know I have to perform because this game is all about performance.”
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