Clemson, S.C.—All-American quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for two touchdown passes and 115 yards in limited action, and running back Adam Choice had a pair of 65-yard runs and three touchdowns to highlight the near 100-play Clemson football scrimmage on Saturday morning at Memorial Stadium. It was the second of three scrimmages for Dabo Swinney’s Tigers during the preseason.
The second-ranked (Amway Coaches Poll) Tigers are preparing for the season opener at Auburn on Saturday night, September 3. The Tigers finished the 2015 season with a 14-1 record and number-two national ranking.
Watson, who was third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy last year, completed a 40-yard pass to Mike Williams on the first play of the scrimmage to get things off to a great start for the offense. Williams is coming off a 2015 season in which he played just 12 snaps in the first game before suffering a neck injury that ended his season. He was a 1000-yard receiver in 2014.
Later in the drive Watson completed a 13-yard scoring pass to All-ACC receiver Artavis Scott, who is the leading returning active receiver in the conference with 169 career catches.
Watson then complete a 40-yard scoring pass to sophomore receiver Deon Cain on the second drive. The Tiger signal caller from Gainesville, Ga., finished the day 7-10 for 115 yards and two scores in limited action.
Swinney worked five quarterbacks in the scrimmage. “There is a real battle for the backup quarterback position between Kelly Bryant and Nick Schuessler. Both of them are playing their best football. “ Schuessler had his second straight scrimmage completing at least 70 percent of his passes as the graduate student from Grayson, Ga., hit on 7-10 passes for 41 yards. He was 12-16 for 139 yards in the previous scrimmage.
Bryant was 3-4 for 59 yards, including a 48-yard scoring pass to Ray Ray McCleod. Bryant, who had a 6.8 rushing average on 23 attempts last year, also scored on a nine-yard run. McCloud was the top receiver in terms of yardage with three catches for 60 yards. Cain had 2-49.
The top rusher was Choice, who had 10 carries for 169 yards and three touchdowns. His last two rushes were a pair of 65-yard touchdown runs. The native of Thomasville, Ga., has not played since the 2014 season when he suffered a torn ACL at midseason in a game at Boston College. He finished that year with 50 rushes for 218 yards.
Tre Lamar and J.D. Davis led the tacklers with five apiece. Linebacker Ben Boulware and freshman end LaSamuel Davis had two sacks apiece. Ryan Carter had two passes broken up and a caused fumble, while safety Van Smith had the only defensive takeaway with an interception during the goal line portion of the scrimmage.
“I was pleased with the quarterbacks today. Deshaun hit Mike Williams with a long pass on the first play of the scrimmage. The receivers played well and so did the running backs. Wayne Gallman has had a great camp. I can’t think of a back who has done better in all phases of the game and leadership. Adam Choice had a big day today with a pair of breakout runs. He needs to improve when we are in our passing game, but he has run the ball well.
“Defensively there were some good plays. I saw some excellent tackles, but we gave up too many big plays. We have to fix that.
“Greg Huegel was excellent today. He kicked just about all of his kickoffs into the endzone and he was 5-5 on field goals once we started the scrimmage with three of them being over 40 yards. We did a lot of work on kick and punt returns. Ray Ray McCloud had an impressive punt return (35 yards) during the scrimmage.”
Clemson will take Sunday off before holding two practices on Monday and one on Tuesday. School starts at Clemson on Wednesday.
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