In Clemson’s first full football scrimmage of 2019, the offense decided to start spring break a little too early for Dabo Swinney’s liking.
Clemson’s head coach wasn’t pleased with his scoring unit’s “below average” showing in the final spring practice Wednesday before a week and a half recess.
“If I go out to the parking lot, they’ve probably got cars packed, rooftop carriers, suntan lotion on the front dash,” Swinney said after Wednesday’s scrimmage. “That’s probably what happened. They were going to just show up out here and go through the motions, and they got exposed. That’s usually what happens on our practice field.”
The defending champs’ offense was lackadaisical from the start, Swinney said. While that side of the ball did win short-yardage and red-zone situations, it was plagued by bad snaps, drops, fumbles, missed throws and penalties.
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“Just a sloppy day offensively, which is not indicative of how they’ve practiced,” Swinney said. “They had a really good eight days leading up to today.
“I think some of them were already at Cabo or Cancun or whatever cruise boat they were on. That was their mindset.”
Swinney said running backs Lyn-J Dixon and Tavien Feaster made some plays, but “overall not a lot of highlights on the offensive side.”
The defense, meanwhile, took advantage and won the day. Swinney said he was especially encouraged by his defensive tackles, including early enrollees Ruke Orhorhoro, Etinosa Reuben and Tyler Davis.
“Biggest thing to me was watching our guys inside compete better,” Swinney said. “They just looked more functional.”
Swinney also noted solid play by linebackers Shaq Smith and James Skalski as well as a surprise performance from WR Derion Kendrick, the Rock Hill native who’s moonlighting at defensive back.
The coaching staff began cross training Kendrick on Monday to help out a cornerback position ravaged by injuries and lack of depth, and the sophomore who played quarterback in high school made a tackle as soon as they put him out there and later picked off a pass.
“He’s an interesting guy,” Swinney said. “What I love about him, he doesn’t care what (position) he plays. He just loves to play. He is a relentless competitor.”
Swinney said Kendrick will continue to work at both defensive back and receiver, maybe for his entire career. Swinney added the latter is Kendrick’s home for home now, but there could be situations down the road where he’s needed to play on the other side of the ball. Swinney also noted a deep wideout position could dictate his usage a well.
“He’s just a natural football player,” Swinney said. “That’s what makes him special. He’s just too talented a guy not to take advantage of his skill set.”
As for special teams, Swinney didn’t see what he wanted out of his placekickers in the battle to replace Greg Huegel.
“We can’t be a 50-percent free-throw shooters,” Swinney said. “We’ve got to be more consistent than that.”