Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott walked off the field after the Tigers’ 100-play scrimmage in Memorial Stadium on Wednesday feeling good about the performance of the offense overall.
Elliott was particularly pleased with the way the offense ran the ball and the leadership he saw within the unit. His biggest disappointment was the number of penalties the offense had and the procedural issues on the offensive line.
“A lot of things to build on. Definitely pleased coming off the field, but disappointed in some of the mental mistakes that we had,” Elliott said. “Too many penalties, a couple false starts from our veteran guys, a couple holding penalties that are not characteristic. You clean up that, it was a pretty good day overall.”
Clemson’s scrimmage was 100-percent live, meaning the quarterbacks were tackled to the ground. It was the first time head coach Dabo Swinney has done that in a number of years for a scrimmage.
Elliott said each of the quarterbacks put together drives and made plays. But he cited true freshman Hunter Johnson, who completed 5-of-11 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown, as the standout performer among the group.
First-team quarterback Kelly Bryant went 8-of-14 passing for 94 yards and also ran for a score. Zerrick Cooper was 4-of-10 for 28 yards and a touchdown, while Tucker Israel was 7-of-13 for 37 yards.
“You saw him extend some plays with his legs,” Elliott said of Johnson. “Looked confident in the pocket. Made some good throws. Put together some drives.
“I thought Kelly did some good things too, especially running the ball, extending plays. Put the balls in position, guys didn’t make the catch for him. And then Cooper as well got in there and showed a little ability to run the football and also made some good throws.”
Clemson consistently moved the ball on the ground during the scrimmage and had several explosive rushes of 12 or more yards. Elliott said Tavien Feaster, who led Clemson with seven carries for 54 yards, had his best day rushing the ball.
C.J. Fuller, meanwhile, logged eight carries for 48 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought Fuller looked the most at ease back there,” Elliott said. “I saw a different level of confidence in Tavien running the football. Part of it is he’s a young guy, and I’m on him hard and pushing him hard. And he’s trying to do everything perfect because I demand perfection.
“But I just told him hey, go let it loose, have some fun, play ball. So I saw him running the ball. Now there’s some things in pass protection, but he’s still a young guy and they do a lot of movement, a lot of different structures, and I have to help him get better in that aspect.”
Cornell Powell paced the receiving corps with five catches for 78 yards. Redshirt freshman T.J. Chase recorded five receptions for 41 yards, while Diondre Overton grabbed two passes for 51 yards to rank second in yardage.
Trevion Thompson notched three catches for 35 yards, with two of the receptions going for touchdowns, one from Johnson and one from Cooper.
“Cornell made a couple plays. T.J. Chase definitely caught my attention today,” Elliott said. “Those were two younger guys that I would say caught my attention.”
At tight end, Elliott said Milan Richard and Shadell Bell caught his eye. He noted that backup center Gage Cervenka is becoming more consistent with his snaps and beginning to push starter Justin Falcinelli.
Overall, Clemson’s ball security was solid as the Tigers fumbled only once.
No scholarship players missed the scrimmage due to injury and no new injuries were reported.
Wednesday’s scrimmage was Clemson’s second of the spring and last before the annual spring game, which will be played on April 8 at 2:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
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