Clemson, S.C—The offense had the upper hand in the final stadium scrimmage of the preseason on Saturday morning for reigning National Champion Clemson. The Tigers begin the season September 2 at home against Kent State.
The Tigers practiced for nearly three hours at Death Valley and scrimmaged for most of that time. For most of the preseason the defense has had the advantage, but that was not the case on Saturday.
“This was about the opposite of last Saturday,” said Swinney, who said the defense dominated the first stadium scrimmage on August 12. “I have been encouraged by the defense all preseason and that have done very well. But today the offense had their day. It did not seem to matter who we played at quarterback, there were just many big plays today. “
There were many big plays on offense. Kelly Bryant completed a 28-yard pass to Tee Higgins and a 40 yarder to T.J. Chase. Zerrick Cooper threw a pair of touchdown passes, one to Travian Thompson and one to Tee Higgins. Hunter Johnson had a scoring pass to Chase. Chase Brice had a 31-yard completion to Will Swinney.
Tavien Feaster was the top rusher with 105 yards in nine carries, including an 80-yard touchdown run. Tee Higgins had five receptions for 76 yards and T.J. Chase had four for 79.
The top tacklers in the scrimmage included Jalen Williams with eight, while Chad Smith, Dorian O’Daniel, and Tanner Muse had five apiece. The defense had six sacks, two by Chris Register, while Isaiah Simmons had the only takeaway with an interception. The defense was without linebacker Shaq Smith and cornerback Marcus Edmond, who both were held out with injuries.
Swinney did say one of the bright spots of the preseason (and Saturday) has been the improvement of the defense when it comes to pass interference penalties. One of the reasons has been the use of boxing gloves in some of the practice drills.
“We only had one pass interference penalty in the scrimmage today and we have cut way back during camp. We led the world in that last year. Using the boxing gloves on the defensive backs has helped clean up their technique and forced them to use their feet in positioning.”
Swinney was asked about top surprises of the preseason camp and he singled out freshman running back Travis Etienne and sophomore defensive back Amir Trapp.
“Travis has been the surprise of the preseason considering he did not get here until the summer. It seems he breaks a long run every day. He is going to be a dynamic player. Amir has really improved and been consistent at cornerback. He is a competitor.”
Swinney also said that defensive tackle Jabril Robinson has taken advantage of his opportunities. If Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence are first team then, Jabril Robinson is I-A. He is going to get starter snaps. The light has gone on for him and he loves to play.”
Clemson will hold its annual fan appreciation day on Sunday afternoon at Memorial Stadium at 2:30 p.m. Admission is free.
March 14, 2019