Scrimmage provides clarity for Swinney in this area

Scrimmage provides clarity for Swinney in this area

Football

Scrimmage provides clarity for Swinney in this area

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It’s one thing to simulate contact during practice. It’s another thing entirely when the live proverbial bullets start flying.

“When I was playing, every day was live,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “(Coaches) had to tell you, ‘Hey, it’s not live.’ Now you’ve got to say, ‘It’s live.’”

Swinney got his first extended look at his team operating the latter Saturday when the Tigers held their first scrimmage of preseason camp. It was during that roughly two-hour window inside Memorial Stadium that Swinney said he got confirmation on an inkling he had about the 2022 team.

“I think this is a tough group,” Swinney said. “I thought they would be a physically tough group, but until you really go play and you really turn it loose, the game is just different than all on your feet and thud-type contact. It’s physical, but it ain’t like this.

“We’ve got a tough group. We’ve got a tough group on both sides of the ball. So I’m pleased with that.”

Swinney particularly praised the competitiveness that played out on both sides of the ball as the first-team offense went against the first-team defense almost exclusively.

The defense did “a lot of good things,” Swinney said, including notching two interceptions and a handful of sacks. But the offense had its moments, too. Swinney said the backs broke off their share of big runs while the receivers dropped just one pass, at least to his recollection. Freshman quarterback Cade Klubnik accounted for a couple of scores, Swinney said.

Paving the way for the offense was Swinney’s biggest bright spot of the day, the offensive line. Swinney said he was “very encouraged” by the line’s performance after more than holding its own against a defensive front full of next-level talent.

“Good on good, it was incredibly competitive,” Swinney said.

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