CLEMSON– It was almost game-like for the Clemson Tigers, as they went through their first scrimmage of the fall on an 82-degree, sunny morning in Tiger Town as the defense dominated the offense– for the majority of the day.
“I thought the defense was solid and consistent all day, just didn't like how we finished up on the goalie,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “I didn’t think that we finished. We were a little undisciplined, had some penalties down there, some offsides.Then offensively, we didn’t ever really get in a rhythm that I would like for us to see.”
But more than just a friend run-through prior to the Tigers hosting Kent State three weeks from today, this was an opportunity for the players to impress the coaching staff, and for the coaches, it was an opportunity to stress the players and see how they respond.
“(The scrimmages) are real important,”. “As coaches we know what we’re looking at. There’s sometimes that something might not look that good to somebody sitting in the stands, but it’s huge for us from an evaluation standpoint. We might be trying to, we need something done because we really need to see this guard in a certain situation, or we need to see a wide out in certain situation–whatever it may be.
“We’re evaluating every single snap, and for me, I just want to see who knows what to do. They need to demonstrate the knowledge and I need to see it done with great effort, toughness that we expect around here. That’s at every single position.”
The expectations for Clemson are not out of the realm of reason, as Swinney is looking for one thing out of all of his players that hope to contribute this season– consistency.
“Then you’ve got to be a consistent performer,” Swinney said. “What you put on tape, as coaches that’s what we’re coaching and allowing, and that’s what you’re doing as a player. Every player has a bad day here or there, but we’re looking for consistency. You may be where you’re supposed to be, lined up, have great effort and made the right decisions and sometimes you just get beat. I can live with that–that’s just life. Sometimes the other player just makes a good play.”
The one player who has demonstrated the consistency that Swinney is looking for through the first part of camp has been junior quarterback Kelly Bryant.
Bryant–currently locked in a four-man battle with Hunter Johnson, Zerrick Cooper and Chase Brice for the starting job–entered the scrimmage off of his best performance as a Tiger in Friday’s practice.
However, it was not his best performance in Saturday's scrimmage, as his suffered some missteps–not all of which were his fault. But it was the way in which he responded that impressed Swinney.
“He probably had as good a day as we’ve had by a quarterback around here, yesterday, in a long, long time,” Swinney said. “And then today–a little different environment, a little different situation–we didn’t finish on a couple of plays, had a couple of things go wrong. But I still like how he responded. I liked how he pushed through. He didn't have the production that he had yesterday, but he still did what he needed to do.”
The Tigers will be back on the practice fields Monday ahead of their second scrimmage of camp Wednesday morning.