Clemson wrapped up spring football with the annual Orange & White Spring Football game on Saturday. A record of 60,000 Tiger fans piled into Death Valley to watch the Orange team defeat the White team 19-14 in a competitive game.
Here is what we heard:
Head coach Dabo Swinney said following the game Kelly Bryant would be the number one quarterback if the team had to go play in a real game that day, but all of the four competing for the job have had really productive spring.
“Kelly, if we played today, he would be the guy, but we don’t play today, we play in September,” he said. “Everything matters, everything counts. I’m really pleased with the spring all four of them had. Zerrick (Cooper) and Hunter (Johnson) had some really good days and have had some inconsistent days. It was a good 15 days of spring practice for Zerrick, it was his first spring.
“Hunter has been here just 15 practices. Now they will take that into the summer, and now they will get installation all over again so by the time they get to the fall, and if they work, you will see the transformation.”
Bryant tore a tendon in his pinky early in the game, but he chose to go back in and continue to compete. He ended the day racking up 66 yards on 12 carries, including a 20-yard run. He brought in the first score of the day with a 4-yard touchdown run. Tucker Israel also helped lead the Orange team to victory by completing 13 of 19 passes for 94 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to Trevion Thompson.
“Personally, I feel like I can do better,” Israel said afterward. “That is just me being hard on myself. We had a great quarterback role model in here before named Deshaun (Watson) and so there is a lot to live up to so whoever the starting quarterback is at this university, there is always something we can improve on. I feel like I did a decent enough job, but I feel like there is always room for improvement.”
Thompson was pleased with his performance on Saturday, and he believes he made improvements in the off-season on his ability to finish plays and take advantage of the opportunity he has to become a consistent target this upcoming season. His touchdown reception was one of only two on the day from either team.
“It really was the perfect play,” Thompson said. “He really was reading the safety, and we had like a post coming behind the safety. The safety came down and Tucker read it real good and he hit me.”
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive coordinator Brent Venables noted he has been happy with the progress he has seen from some of the younger players and from guys that redshirted last season. Specifically, he said that Isaiah Simmons and Tanner Muse stood out after Saturday’s spring game.
“Isaiah Simmons and Tanner Muse, those are a couple of guys that have really come on,” Venables said. “There’s a bunch of them that have had good, solid springs, some better than others. Those guys in particular jumped out and had a really good spring.”