Clemson held its first scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday at Death Valley, and for the defense, it was a mixed bag of results.
The unit forced 10 punts out of 19 drives, according to defensive coordinator Brent Venables. The defense showed positive flashes but had its share of lapses, too, on what was an overall inconsistent day on that side of the ball.
“The first three drives, we came out and played pretty good, and then went through about four drives there not so good,” Venables said following the scrimmage. “We had a few guys down in that second group, so some threes had to step up, and saw some good things. We got exposed at times, responded and really played well for seven or eight of the next nine drives.”
Venables wants to see better play and communication from the back seven, but was pleased with the physicality he saw in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
“Overall, again, just inconsistent,” he said. “Got to play better, got to be more physical. Guys got to know what to do, and again, come out and start a little stronger. Can’t go on lulls, can’t play inconsistently. Got to do the little things well – eyes, leverage, physicality – just overall discipline.”
One of the standouts in the scrimmage defensively was redshirt junior linebacker Isaiah Simmons, who recorded a 100-yard pick-six in one of the goal-line situations.
“He’s freaky talent and ability. We know that,” Venables said. “He’s got the ability to be a game-changing guy to the perimeter. Got a lot of work to do still, but proud of him and the progress that he’s made.”
Venables is setting a high standard for Simmons and pushing the preseason All-ACC linebacker to reach his full potential.
“He had a really good strong finish. I want more,” Venables said. “Isaiah knows that. I want more. I want him to be a dominant player, so everything that goes along with that – you’ve got to bring it and you’ve got to bring it every day. Every day. Not most of the time – every day. So, when he does that, he can decide on how great he wants to be.”
Cornerback Derion Kendrick (hamstring) did not play, while defensive tackles Nyles Pinckney, who is banged up, did not play a lot of snaps according to plan. Venables mentioned corner A.J. Terrell and defensive tackle Tyler Davis as a couple of others who have stood out thus far in camp.
Clemson will continue practice Monday following a day off Sunday for its annual Fan Appreciation Day at Memorial Stadium.