Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney called it like it is. The offense dominated the defense in Saturday’s first stadium scrimmage of fall camp.
“I thought the offense just dominated the day,” Swinney said.
The Tigers’ coach said from the opening drive the offense owned the morning, taking the opening drive and going 70 yards down the field for a touchdown.
“Our first defense, I think we led the nation in three-and-outs maybe six times over the last several years, but I don’t believe we had a three-and-out on defense until maybe the end of practice,” Swinney said. “What that means, the positive, is the offense had a great day.
“We really had some big runs. It is good to see us throw and catch like we did today. I thought Kelly (Bryant) set the tempo. What a great opening drive for Kelly, big plays. Trevor (Lawrence) came in and went with it, big plays, great drive. There were just a lot of positives.”
Swinney indicated the wide receivers had a great day, too. He reported Tee Higgins, T.J. Chase, Amari Rodgers, Diondre Overton and Cornell Powell all made big plays, but the guy who stood out the most was freshman Justyn Ross. He said Ross went up with one hand and plucked a ball right out of the air.
Ross later came back and made an even better catch.
“He was spectacular today finishing plays,” Swinney said. “It is one thing to be in position, but finishing plays, he really, really had a great day finishing plays.”
Just overall as a group, Swinney said the receivers caught the ball well.
Clemson’s head coach was also pleased with the offensive line. He thought they protected the quarterbacks well. The running backs, Travis Etienne, Tavien Feaster, Adam Choice and Lyn-J Dixon, all ran the football well, while the quarterbacks put the ball where they needed to put it.
Etienne led the running backs. Swinney said he had two really long runs, while Feaster had a couple of tough finishes. He said Choices was really knocking defensive players forward, while Dixon again had another impressive practice.
Dixon also had two long runs. One was a 50-yarder and another was a 25-yard run.
“He has no fear,” Swinney said. “He has one gear and that is wide open. He has great vision.”
The offense completed its dominance over the defense in the 160-play scrimmage with no turnovers.
“That is a big deal,” Swinney said. “We almost had one. (Brian) Dawkins almost had one, but he was out of bounds when he came down with it. So, no turnovers and few undisciplined plays and I was disappointed with a few undisciplined things. We jumped offside a couple of times defensively.”
Swinney said the offense is still not perfect and they have a lot of things they can do better. However, on this day, they controlled the scrimmage.
As for the defense, it was not a total wash. Swinney said they finished strong, winning the goal-line competition at the end of the spring. The first two groups one a couple of competitive short-yardage battles as well.
“They finished with a couple of good competitive wins,” Swinney said.
Clemson will host Fan Appreciation on Sunday at Death Valley before returning to practice on Monday. The next major scrimmage of the summer is next Thursday.