CLEMSON – The good and bad of going ‘live’ in spring scrimmages were on display in the Clemson indoor facility Monday evening.
For a second-straight week, the Tiger coaches have everything they need and more to make personnel decisions off the tape.
They also saw one of their quarterbacks go down late to injury – mid-year Deshaun Watson suffering a "slight crack" in his collarbone per the university. He will miss the spring game and will be out of commission for workouts for at least three weeks.
QBs still competing
No leader emerging yet
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris didn't know the damage in post-practice interviews, but wasn't worried.
“It’s part of putting them live," Morris said. "When they know they’re not going to get hit and they sit back there – they have a tendency to hold that ball a little longer. Knowing that they’re live, it’s a different ballgame. (Watson) did a good job of getting out of trouble, moving around with his feet.
“All of them have to learn to get down in the open field. I’m sure he’s fine.”
On the whole, Morris liked what he saw from the three-way battle under pressure again – also including senior Cole Stoudt and sophomore Chad Kelly.
“Everybody is getting a chance to start a scrimmage,” Morris said. “Probably Chad and Cole got more reps than anybody today. It’s hard to read anything into that. They’re all three having their moments like I said a week ago. These guys have to continue to push each other. It’s a healthy competition right now and these guys are working hard.”
Tigers boss Dabo Swinney says they might have an indication by spring’s end of who will start come Aug. 30 against Georgia, but don’t expect them to name a starter.
“I don’t see us (deciding),” Swinney said. “It’s not that obvious. There’s somebody in our minds if we started today that guy runs out there. There’s too much to happen between now and August….I’m very, very pleased with Cole, Chad, Deshaun. As I’ve said multiple times, I’m not worried about the quarterback situation.
“When it’s all said and done, we’re going to have a great situation at quarterback at Clemson.”
Swinney announced Monday that senior tight end Sam Cooper (shoulder) will miss the rest of spring, while junior offensive lineman Eric Mac Lain (toe) is being evaluated for surgery.
In last week’s scrimmage, Clemson’s defense didn’t get on the board with a sack or turnover, but given the Tigers’ talent on the d-line, that wasn’t going to last.
“I’m anxious to see this tape and evaluate these guys,” Swinney said. “I thought the defense did a better job at getting after the quarterback. Offensively we didn’t do a good enough job protecting. We’ll study the tape and start making some decisions on personnel.”
Sophomore end Shaq Lawson says their improving secondary held the key.
“We were attentive, aggressive, getting after the quarterback – getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback,” Lawson said. “The secondary is getting better every day. Mackensie (Alexander), Cordrea (Tankersley) – they are all just getting better every day.
Defense shows 'edge' in second scrimmage
“I felt like the DBs was locking down their man so we could get to the quarterback. (We were) getting sacks.”
Swinney pointed out Tankersley, who had a team-high nine special teams tackles last season, as a standout as well.
“I’ve been so impressed with his development,” he said. “He’s been here one year. The thing that I love about him – he cares. You can see it all over him. He cares about being a great player. He’s so coachable. He cares about doing his job. We need more guys like that.”
Clemson will practice on Wednesday and Thursday, gearing up for Saturday’s Orange-White spring game on April 12 at 4 p.m. The Tigers’ coach says they’ll have plenty to look over.
“Too many self-inflicted wounds that you can’t beat good teams (with),” said Swinney. “When you’re trying to go from seven to one, you can’t have happen. When you do, you’re going to get beat.”