Ideally Dabo Swinney would have liked to have named a starting quarterback yesterday or even back in the spring, but that’s just not how this year’s quarterback competition is working out for the Clemson coach.
After Saturday’s 106-play scrimmage at Death Valley, Swinney and his offensive coaches are no closer to naming a starting quarterback than they were following the spring game back in April. In the first stadium scrimmage of fall camp, incumbent Kelly Bryant and freshmen Trevor Lawrence and Chase Brice all threw touchdown passes as the offense dominated the defense.
“I think it just bring a smile to your face. It really does,” offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said afterward. “Sometimes you might have a quarterback competition and you are hoping you can find one that can help you win. I think with our situation we feel like we have three that we can go win with and it really would not be a very drastic change.”
Swinney is hopeful by the time they get to the end of fall camp they’ll have a better idea who they might run out there with first and how they will play the three quarterbacks in the season-opener against Furman on Sept. 1. However, Saturday’s scrimmage did not help the situation.
All three quarterbacks played with all the groups Saturday, and all three made good decisions in the passing game. They also looked very comfortable running the offense and staying with the tempo. In other words, they each performed well.
“We have three guys that we can win with,” Swinney said. “Ideally, when we get seven to ten days out then we will say, ‘Okay this how we will go into this game.’ If it is a big separation, then that makes it easier. But if it is close, then we will go to our next step in the evaluation. We have to go play some games. If it is close then you have to give guys opportunities to play and you go from there.”
What if it is so close that there really is not much of a difference? Will the coaches lean on the side of experience or go with the guy they think is the best quarterback?
“Experience is definitely a factor,” Scott said. “Coach Swinney says all the time that he does not mind playing a freshman or a sophomore, but if it is a senior and a guy with experience, it has to be a knockout shot.
“That guy has been there and has had the experience and has been through the battles. That is the same thing you have with a guy like Justyn Ross competing against a guy like Tee Higgins. That is a competition out there every day. Diondre Overton is right there in that mix. So, we have a standard around here that best is the standard. So, hey! We need to find out who the best is.”