Clemson, S.C.—Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney ran his team through a 99-play scrimmage on Wednesday afternoon in the Poe Indoor Practice Facility in the team’s final practice before spring break. The Tigers will now take 10 days off from practice before resuming workouts on Monday, March 27. Clemson’s Spring Game is Saturday, April 8 at Memorial Stadium.
With many former members of the 2016 National Championship Clemson team on hand as they prepare for Pro Day on Thursday, the Tigers worked on all phases of the game during the practice that was interrupted by the dedication of four monuments outside the practice facility that honored Clemson’s four wins away from home over top 25 teams last year.
The scrimmage was physical in nature from the first play as freshman Isaiah Simmons had a crisp tackle on the first kickoff return of the day. “Isaiah Simmons set the tone for the day on the first kickoff return,” said Swinney.
The Tigers defense has seven returning starters from last year, including All-American linemen Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence. Clemson’s offensive line was missing returning linemen starters Mitch Hyatt, an All-America candidate in his own right, and Taylor Hearn.
“The defense played well and I was especially encouraged that they did not have a pass interference penalty all day. The offense was without two returning offensive line starters, but it gave some of the younger players experience.”
With the graduation of quarterback Deshaun Watson, much of the attention this spring has been on the quarterback position. Kelly Bryant, a junior, has been running the number-one offense so far this spring and he had a solid scrimmage, completing 7-13 passes for 91 yards. He completed 4-5 passes, including a 39-yarder to Hunter Renfrow, on a late touchdown drive against the number-one defense. Freshman Zerrick Cooper completed 4-8 passes and had a 13-yard touchdown run.
“The quarterbacks played well,” said Swinney. “Kelly has been the number-one quarterback and is improving each day. He did not get off to a good start today, but he finished very strong, leading the number-one offense 70 yards for a touchdown.
“We continue to evaluate all the quarterbacks in all phases of the game. That includes the running game. Even though we don’t tackle the quarterback we can still evaluable their decision making on the running game.”
Renfrow led the receivers with four catches for 57 yards, while Deon Cain had four catches for 33 yards. D.J. Greenlee led the tight ends with a pair of catches for 30 yards. Adam Choice had 31 yards rushing, while Tavien Feaster added 30. C.J. Fuller scored a rushing touchdown.
Tre Lamar and Shaq Smith led the tacklers with seven apiece. Clelin Ferrell added six. Nyles Pinckney had three sacks while wearing his new uniform number-44. Christian Wilkins had a pair of tackles for loss, as did Lamar. Dorian O’Daniel had an interception , a sack and four tackles.
Notes: Clemson ran 99 plays in its scrimmage, ironically, the same number of plays the Clemson offense had in its National Championship win over Alabama on January 9….The Clemson team spent an hour with the Clemson Life Program students after practice and engaged in various athletic competitions, including field goal kicking…Jalen Williams, Kendall Joseph, Mitch Hyatt, and Taylor Hearn were among the players who missed the scrimmage due to injury….they are expected to return to practice after spring break….there were only five total penalties in the scrimmage for 25 yards, two by the offense and three by the defense….Clemson also spent time on all phases of special teams over the course of the scrimmage….Pro Day on Thursday is expected to attract over 100 NFL scouts, coaches and general managers, while over 50 media will be in attendance, including live reports from ESPN and the NFL Network.