Notes from First Scrimmage and Practices

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson held their first scrimmage this weekend and we caution that you cannot take much at all from their statistics, since it always seems like everyone averages 6 yards per carry and every QB looks awesome to someone. Usually the defense will control the first scrimmage as well, but without 4 corners and based on the other indicators from the staff and those who've seen us in person, they didn't do that great a job for this first week of practice.

I thought there were some really good on both sides. There were a lot of wins and losses on both sides, a lot of competitive plays.

We had a bunch of corners down, so we only had four or five pretty much all day. So we were really thin. But from my perspective, it was a good first scrimmage. We have a lot of work to do to play three weeks from today. Our backs ran hard, we missed a few plays that were open with our second group. Tight ends, I'm encouraged by those guys. Defensively, did an excellent job goal line and short yardage. Thought our first group did a good job creating some turnovers.

They looked pretty tired, but they should. That's six days of pretty physical contact. We don't ever go six days in a row with the type of contact we've had. But that's what camp's all about. I think they've pushed through. So we'll come back tomorrow with no practice, just meetings, and really slow it down and take advantage of this film.

I thought the tempo was really good. Another good positive for a first scrimmage is we didn't have a lot of penalties. We had ACC refs here, so it's officiated like you'd want it on a game-day from tempo and substitutions. So that was good.

We always rep three groups this time of year, and you can get real thin quick? especially when you have four corners the whole day. That's probably the best-looking 3rd team, we call them the "Pride", that's probably the best looking "Pride" group since I've been here. That to me is a sign we've really made some progress as a program because we've got good depth.

(recall that Dabo calls the 3rd team the Pride team)

We had Breeland at one spot and just kind of rotated a guy at the other spot. Marcus Edmond, Ryan Carter, Jerrod Williams, we didn't have many guys.

MacKensie Alexander hasn't practiced since the first day. Hopefully we'll starting getting some of those guys back Monday. Should get Garry Peters back. He's had a concussion. But he's had a really good camp. Breeland's had a good camp. Mackensie we feel like will be able to help us when we get him back going. Hopefully it's the middle of the week. We've got some good news on him, and he should be improving each day.

(Alexander) did a pretty good amount of work yesterday as far as planting and going. So he's feeling better. It's just one of those things you have to make sure he's healthy. Physically he's ready, and mentally he's very engaged. We just have to get him the reps.

Adrian Baker, looked like he might have sprained his MCL. So hopefully it's not too serious.

There were plays like where you had Marcus Edmond matched up against Sammy Watkins, Sammy makes a great play, Marcus misses the tackle and it's a touchdown. Well, that should be a mismatch for the first scrimmage of Marcus Edmond's career. But what does he do next scrimmage? It's all about getting better. You need experience. That's why you scrimmage. NFL teams play a bunch of preseason games so they can go find things out, too.

Its pretty concerning that we're running thin on DBs who have no experience as it is. We need the best 4 freshmen to play, not the 4 that aren't injured. Knowing Dabo, he'll end up playing more of them and we won't be able to redshirt enough for future depth.

Along the OL, MacLain has moved inside to LG in practices frequently to push at those spots. Whether this shows that Battle is ready or not is hard to say. He has definitely continued to show flashes, but he has to be able to do it 100% of the time from day 1. From a technical perspective, he's not staying low enough and gets knocked off balance as a result. A lot of that is in your footwork and realizing that you need to bend at the knees and not the waist to keep the pads lower. The staff says that Shatley is the only one who has solidified his starting spot, but Thomas has not assumed the leadership role along the line that they are hoping for.

There might be one or two spots that go a little further. Certainly by the time we come out of next weekend, we'll have a pretty good idea who's going to start the first game.

Isaiah has made progress. I'm proud of Isaiah because he's been more engaged than he was this spring. He's competed. He's not been a distraction. He was a little bit of a distraction at times in the spring maturity-wise. That has not been an issue. He's been solid. He's coming along, and that's what we need to see out of him.

The TE position is something I think we're going to see get cut back in the first half of the season simply because of inexperience and blocking acumen. Clemson has been running more true 4-wide sets instead of 3+1 in practice so far, i.e.,10 and 11 personnel groupings, and very few heavy sets outside of goal line situations. This pretty much jives with what I expected to see: if the TE can't block at all, he's just a slow WR, and you're better off putting the speed out there to start against UGA. Neither Leggett nor Seckinger is much of a blocker at this point.

Barring injury, Tyshon Dye is going to pass Howard and possibly McDowell as a more every-down runner this season, the amount he plays though will depend on how he improves as a pass blocker. He seems to know this and is reportedly working pretty hard at it.

For their part, the Venables said the defensive front 7 was fine in the scrimmage, and there will continue to be open competition to get the starting spots. I think at DT it won't matter who starts, but I'm very interested in who comes out ahead at WLB and MLB. Christian is going to walk out with the SAM job, since Kearse will not be able to handle the heavy personnel groupings, Kearse's position is more like a SAM/nickel that plays in the Field in open space vs. someone like Christian who plays tight to the line.

Clemson removed Tim Bourret as SID over all sports, and hired Joe Galbraith from Mississippi State to oversee all sports except football, which was left to Tim. The SID position has been renamed. Galbraith, 35 and having worked 8 years in Starkville, is charged with using social media better and more efficiently to expand operations and advertising. Galbraith will start on the 31st. This was not done with Bourret's blessing, if you were wondering. I definitely approve of hiring more people and expanding the AD staff, along with someday replacing McFadden with a nicer newer building, but I'm not sure I would've taken Bourret out of fulltime sports information. Bourret may be the king of worthless facts but he's damn good at his job.

As a side note, STS is continuing to look for writers to help out this season, preferably someone that brings something to the table that we do not cover extensively enough. We have been interested in expanding X's and O's coverage since the Film Review prevents me from doing more, but ideas are welcome. Email us (see Masthead below) if you are interested.

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