Monday Morning Quarterback
What did we learn from Saturday’s first scrimmage?
I think we learned a great deal.
No surprise, we learned how explosive Clemson’s offense can be. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence found Tee Higgins on the first play of the second drive for a long touchdown pass. That was the first of three straight touchdown drives for the offense.
We also learned the defense has some heart. After giving up those three touchdowns, the defense stood up and forced nine punts on the next 15 possessions. On the other six, they forced two missed field goals and Isaiah Simmons made a one-handed interception which he returned 100 yards for a touchdown.
What does all of this mean?
It means the Tigers have a lot of promise on both sides of the football. Remember the first scrimmage of fall camp is primarily used as a teaching tool for the coaches. It allows them to evaluate where the team is after eight days of camp.
Now they have the ability to go back and teach, especially the younger players, and show them what they did wrong and what they did right.
From the sound of things, it seems like Clemson did a lot of both. While the offense did score six touchdowns, it also turned the ball over, had too many penalties and the offensive line gave up too many sacks and tackles for loss.
On defense, though it forced nine punts and prevented the offense from scoring on 13 of the 19 drives, it also allowed too many big plays. It had some busted coverages, critical penalties and gave up six touchdowns.
Individually, Lawrence was Trevor Lawrence. Tee Higgins showed why he is one of the best receivers in the country, and Joseph Ngata continues to excite the coaches about his potential.
Due to nagging injuries, the Tigers’ two freshmen tight ends, Jaelyn Lay and Davis Allen, missed the scrimmage, while freshman wideout Frank Ladson also sat out the scrimmage with a sore knee.
Former walk-on Darien Rencher has asserted himself as a guy who can play and likely could share the No. 2 running back spot with Lyn-J Dixon. Though Dixon continues to have some explosive runs, he has been inconsistent at times and has missed on a few of his assignments when it comes to pass protection.
Freshman running backs Chez Mellusi and Michel Dukes have had their moments in camp, but, according to the coaches, they are starting to hit that freshman wall and right now they are struggling with camp.
On defense, Simmons was again spectacular and is proving he might be the Tigers’ best defensive player. Freshman Tyler Davis is consistent and continues to make plays along the defensive line. With Nyles Pinckney playing very little in the scrimmage, the freshman defensive tackle made the most of his opportunity and played well.
Corner A.J. Terrell and safeties K’Von Wallace and Nolan Turner also had very good performances in the first scrimmage.
As the Tigers head into Day 9 of camp today, there is a lot to feel good about and a lot that needs to be corrected. There are still questions that need to be answered at tight end on the offensive side and at linebacker on defense.
But the first scrimmage of fall camp gave the coaches exactly what they needed. It allows them to show their players they are a long way from being a complete football team at this point.