Clemson’s offense came out of the gate exploding in Saturday’s scrimmage at Death Valley, but the defense finished the morning much stronger as the defending national champions scrimmaged for the first time in fall camp.
“There was good and bad on both sides. We had some sloppy penalties that we need to clean up on both sides,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said.
Swinney says the mistakes on both sides were just mental mistakes which comes with the first scrimmage.
“This will be a great tape for us,” Swinney said. “Everybody be coachable, and everybody understand this is where we are right now and then let’s chart the path on how we go get better over these next 19 days.”
There were big plays in the scrimmage from both sides. Linebacker Isaiah Simmons had a one-handed interception he returned for a touchdown. Freshman wide receiver Joseph Ngata also stood out.
Trevor Lawrence also had a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Tee Higgins, who was back at full speed after missing some time in practice this week with a foot injury.
“We got a lot of functional talent, we just have to create the functional depth because there is a difference,” Swinney said. “I like the guys that know how to play the games from an athletic standpoint. We have a lot of coaching to do off this tape and I do not have any doubt we will progress from it.”
The hardest thing for head coach in scrimmage situations is balancing what he is seeing. For instance, Lawrence’s long touchdown pass to Higgins was a good play from an offensive standpoint, but on defense it meant someone missed an assignment and did not do what they were supposed to do.
“We are not game planning against each other,” Swinney said. “We are running Clemson’s defense and Clemson’s offense and sometimes you just have bad plays because it just does not match up. We do not go into a game and say here is the Clemson offense from fall camp and lets just start calling plays. We have a specific game plan that is tailored towards that opponent.
“We don’t sit around and game plan for the Clemson defense. We are installing our offense. Sometimes you get into bad plays and I will evaluate that, but more importantly, are we playing clean. Do we have everybody going in the right direction? Are we having a bunch of bust and stupid penalties? I gage that. There is going to be some good and bad on both sides because we are talented on both sides.”