Matt Connolly

Clemson defender ejected and other things we learned from Tigers scrimmage

Dabo Swinney recaps Clemson’s first scrimmage

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney discusses standouts from the first preseason scrimmage
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Clemson coach Dabo Swinney discusses standouts from the first preseason scrimmage

Clemson held its first preseason scrimmage of the 2018 season on Saturday at Death Valley. Here are some notes from meeting with players and coaches following the workout:

1. Mental mistakes

Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables was not happy with his unit’s discipline. In addition to his defense lining up or jumping offside on several occasions, defensive end Logan Rudolph was kicked out of the scrimmage for getting into an altercation with another player.

“We took a swipe today at somebody, 54 did,” Venables said. “But he’s been really playing well, but we kicked him out today, but he’s had a really good camp.”

2. Offense won the day

Dabo Swinney would prefer for his offense and defense to play about even during a scrimmage, but he said the offense was clearly the better unit on Saturday.

“I thought the offense just dominated the day, really just call it like it is,” Swinney said. “From the opening drive, good on good, 70-yard touchdown drive right out of the gate.”

The defense performed better late in the day during short-yardage situations, but overall the offense was the much better unit, according to Swinney.

“Our first defense, I think we led the nation in three-and-outs about six times in the last several years,” Swinney said. “I don’t think we had a three-and-out on defense until maybe the end of practice.”

3. Receivers stood out

Clemson has had its share of talented receivers groups over the past several years, but co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Jeff Scott said Saturday that this is the first time he has had nine guys that he feels are capable of starting. Swinney echoed those comments and said the receivers stood out during the scrimmage.

“Just overall as a group the receivers really threw and caught the ball well,” Swinney said. “Give the line credit because I thought they protected well. The backs stepped up. But the quarterbacks put the ball where they needed to put it, and the receivers made some huge plays.”

4. QB battle continues

There is no end in sight as far as the quarterback competition goes. Swinney said Kelly Bryant, Trevor Lawrence and Chase Brice all made plays, and he feels that all three are pretty even.

“I haven’t seen the stats, but I bet they were probably pretty similar,” Swinney said. “They really made all the throws, all three. All three had touchdown throws. All three had throws down the field, had some tight window throws. It’s fun, man. There’s a lot of competition.”

5. Several guys were out

In addition to Rudolph being kicked out of the practice, tight end Braden Galloway, cornerback Mario Goodrich, linebacker James Skalski and defensive end Richard Yeargin were out with injuries. Trayvon Mullen missed the scrimmage to attend a funeral, while receiver Hunter Renfrow left early to attend a wedding. Receiver Trevion Thompson missed the second half of the scrimmage after getting banged up.

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