Defense owns first scrimmage

Defense owns first scrimmage

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Defense owns first scrimmage

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Kendrick shines at cornerback

Clemson held its first full scrimmage of spring practice Wednesday at Death Valley, and the defense won the day according to Dabo Swinney.

On the flip side, Clemson’s head coach thought the offense took an early vacation as the team went through its last practice before spring break.

“Offensively, I just didn’t think they had great energy today,” Swinney said. “I think some of them were already at Cabo or Cancun or whatever cruise boat they’re going on. I think that was kind of the mindset of the offensive guys today. Sloppy, bad snaps, drops, fumbles, missed throws, penalties… Just a sloppy day offensively, which is not indicative of how they’ve practiced. It’s been a really good eight days leading up till today.

“But today, I thought offensively they were way below average, and give the defense some credit for that. I thought their energy, the offense didn’t match it. It wasn’t near as competitive as it should’ve been.”

Swinney named a number of players who stood out defensively, but the star of the scrimmage on that side of the ball was Derion Kendrick.

The sophomore wide receiver is cross-training and getting some work at cornerback this spring, with several corners sidelined due to injury including Mario Goodrich, LeAnthony Williams and Brian Dawkins Jr. Freshman Joseph Charleston was also banged up last week, and Kyler Michael had been out with a hamstring injury but returned to the field Wednesday.

Kendrick practiced at cornerback on Monday and then performed well in Wednesday’s scrimmage during which he recorded an interception.

“DK, he’s just an interesting guy. What I love about him is he doesn’t care what he plays,” Swinney said. “He’ll play quarterback, he’ll play corner, he’ll play linebacker, he’ll play tailback. He just loves to play, and that’s what I love about that guy.

“He is a relentless competitor, and it’s been neat to see him. I didn’t really know what to expect today, but it didn’t take long. He hadn’t tackled anybody in over a year, and right out of the gate he gets off a block and makes a tackle for about a 1-yard gain. He’s just a natural football player, and that’s what makes him special.”

Clemson’s depth on offense gives the Tigers the luxury to be able to cross-train Kendrick. Swinney says his primary position is still wideout but envisions the Rock Hill, S.C., native seeing action on both sides of the ball in the years to come.

“He’ll be a guy, no matter what, that I could see working some on both sides the rest of his career regardless of what ends up being his so-called ‘home,’” Swinney said. “Right now, his home is wideout, and we’re training him up at DB. If that changes down the road, who knows. He’ll still be a guy that would be in the mix. He’s just too talented of a guy to not take advantage of his skillset.”

Cornerback A.J. Terrell also picked off a pass in the scrimmage, while Swinney noted that defensive linemen such as Xavier Kelly, Darnell Jefferies, Tyler Davis, Ruke Orhorhoro and Etinosa Reuben competed better. Redshirt freshman defensive end K.J. Henry made some nice plays, according to Swinney, and junior linebackers Shaq Smith and Jamie Skalski stood out as well.

Offensively, Swinney said Travis Etienne and Lyn-J Dixon looked good running the ball and backup quarterback Chase Brice made a couple of nice plays.

“The biggest thing, to me, was watching our guys inside (on the D-line) compete better, just seeing that group compete better,” Swinney said. “They just looked more functional today, so I was just really encouraged with what I saw. Then there were some positives on the offensive side too. Lyn-J continues to splash. I thought Feaster ran the ball well. I thought Chase made a couple nice plays. But overall, not a lot of highlights on the offensive side.”

Move over Alabama, Clemson is the new King of College Football. In our new magazine “Little Ole Clemson”: The Best “Little” Dynasty Ever, we examine not just the 2018 team’s run to being “the best ever” but examine the last four seasons and how Dabo Swinney turned Clemson into the new dynasty of college football. We also take a look at the role former athletic director Terry Don Phillips played. We go behind the scenes at the Tigers’ run to a second national championship in three seasons and the previous three national championship runs. It also features stories on the Power Rangers, the 2018 senior class, high quality photos and much, much more.

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