Pitting the first-team offense against the second-team defense and No. 2 offense vs. No. 1 defense on Thursday at Death Valley, Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney said the ones dominated and generally validated his confidence in Clemson’s starters.
Swinney pinpointed the five offensive line starters: left to right, it’s Mitch Hyatt, Eric Mac Lain, Ryan Norton, Tyrone Crowder and Joe Gore. The next four in alphabetical order are Justin Falcinelli, Jake Fruhmorgen, Jay Guillermo and Taylor Hearn.
Sophomore Wayne Gallman, the top returning rusher, had another big day. Also, Swinney had high praise for junior tight end Jordan Leggett who caught a 57-yard touchdown pass from Deshaun Watson.
Gallman carried nine times for 91 yards, including a a 50-yard run. Watson completed 10 of 15 passes for 154 yards and two scores. The offense did not commit a turnover.
Looking deeper at tight end, co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said freshman Garrett Williams was the best blocker, and Scott remained cautiously optimistic that junior Jay Jay McCullough can contribute this season.
Huegel to kick, Lakip out three
Walk-on kicker Greg Huegel locked down the kicking job. After a rugged performance in the last stadium scrimmage, Huegel was perfect on four field goal attempts during the scrimmage and five others during situational scrimmaging, including a 53-yarder.
Swinney made it official, announcing returning kicker Ammon Lakip would not dress the first three games as part of his team punishment. Lakip could return for the Notre Dame game but would be required to beat out Huegel.
Venables troubled – again
Another uneven performance bothered defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who complained of five or six plays of “dumb football.”
“That’s a reflection of dumb coaching,” he said. “I was a dummy today five times. That’s not acceptable.”
Venables seemed settled on his primary players, but the absence of depth at linebacker has been a head-scratcher. After starters Ben Boulware and B.J. Goodson, “Put all the others together. They’re not ready to win a football game.”
On the line, Venables projected potentially four or five to rotate inside – D.J. Reader, Carlos Watkins, Scott Pagano, Christian Wilkins and perhaps Albert Huggins.
Jeffrie Gibson led all tacklers during the scrimmage with seven. Boulware and Chad Smith each had five, and Shaq Lawson had three sacks.
Fans welcome Sunday
Practices are scheduled for Friday afternoon and Saturday morning before Fan Appreciation Day at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the stadium.