A week after a scrimmage that didn’t leave the coaching staff very happy, Wednesday’s workout was more of what the staff was looking for inside Memorial Stadium.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said the second scrimmage of spring drills went much better than the first, and while he said the Tigers are a long way from being ready to play, he likes the competition the team has built at several positions with three practices to go before the April 9 spring game at 2:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
“I’m not displeased at all,” Swinney said after the 11th practice of the spring. “We’re a work in progress and we’re making progress. If we continue to do that we'll be okay.”
The running game took center state in the scrimmage. Returning starting tailback Wayne Gallman rushed for 112 yards on eight carries and busted off gains of 55 and 30 yards to lead a Tiger offense that dominated up front Wednesday afternoon.
“I think we kind of imposed our will against a monstrous defensive line, especially in the interior,” center Jay Guillermo said. “They’ve improved since the (2015) season. For us to come in there and do what we did today … the whole scrimmage, the way we executed, the way we blocked, we were able to get big running plays.”
Gallman also caught a 15-yard pass from quarterback Deshaun Watson and had a 30-yard touchdown run during the two-minute drill. Reserve back Tyshon Dye also received credit from his coaches after gaining 33 yards and scoring a touchdown on eight carries.
“I thought we ran the ball well,” said Swinney, who gave his team the rest of the week off. “Tyshon may have had his best game today. He had a couple really strong, tough runs. I thought he made some nice plays, finished a couple runs like I like to see him do.”
C.J. Fuller had 69 yards on six carries while Adam Choice gained 27 yards and a touchdown on 10 totes.
“Sometimes there’s not quite as much room on that second team,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator and running back coach Tony Elliott said. “I thought they found some holes, they split some plays, and then you throw them in there with the first unit and there’s not much of a drop-off.”
In a scrimmage where the starting units had players participating up until the final segment, Clemson still had some penalties it wasn’t pleased with, but there was only one offensive turnover.
Watson threw for 133 yards, including a 40-yard completion to Trevion Thompson to start the scrimmage. Watson had a 25-yard touchdown pass to Artavis Scott, and former Wren quarterback Kelly Bryant, who’s battling with Nick Schuessler for the backup role, impressed his coaches as well.
“I thought Kelly looked comfortable in there,” Elliott said. “We’ve really challenged him to go play and turn it loose. He was making good decisions. He was decisive.”
Freshman linebacker Shaq Smith led all tacklers with six, and safety Jadar Johnson forced a turnover. Linebacker Kendall Joseph, a Belton-Honea Path product, had five tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
“There’s a lot to like and there’s a whole bunch to correct and get better from,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “Just got to execute and do better with the things that we can control and not line up offsides … doing the little things the right way.”
Noted: Swinney said after Wednesday’s practice that he’s pleased with WR Deon Cain’s attitude while he sits out of spring practice for disciplinary reasons. Cain was suspended for the College Football Playoff last December. Swinney said Cain is doing everything now that he needs to do so far to return to the field.
“I’m really proud of him,” Swinney said. “If he continues to do what he’s doing, we’ve got a long summer ahead and he'll have to make good decisions, then we we crank it up in August, he'll be back out there ready to go.”