Clemson finished their first stadium scrimmage last night, and there are mixed reviews of different areas of the team so far. In the first scrimmage the defense should be ahead, particularly up front, but that wasn’t the case overall with the holes we have. Of course no one can cover Sammy Watkins (2 50yd TDs) but I would’ve expected to hear more good things on defense than I have. This is the most concerning thing I take away from the scrimmage.
- Offensive tempo was up, 100 plays in about an hour and a half. The tempo really tore up the defense.
- The offense still could not convert short yardage. 1-for-4 in those situations when they needed a yard and could not get it. Youth at Guard? Possibly. There’s just as much youth at DT too though. The OL has stated they’ve done nothing different in conditioning compared to last year. #Batson’d
- Some of the difficulties of the OL are in the snap exchanges, backup C Ryan Norton has had some issues and is getting more snaps at Guard, reportedly often working at 2nd team LG. I see no way he doesn’t end up at Center if Freeman goes down however.
- So far, it looks like Thomas – Davis are forming the left side. Battle’s head is swimming and he’s 3rd team behind Shaq Anthony. That will change. Davis has been more of an every-other-series guy, so if another LT option emerges, moving Thomas inside would get the best 5 on the field. Davis' weight is at 326, and personally I think he needs to get as close to 300 as possible.
- Bellamy is doing better in short yardage running, which we will need badly if he’s to ever become an every-down player. However, he's still struggling with fumbleitis. D.J. Howard also reportedly did alright.
- Clemson’s recruiting philosophy at RB is shifting a little, they’re going more after the bigger backs that can run inside compared to the scatbacks. More like JD than CJ. This is Morris’ preference. Strange then that we held off offering so many guys so late last cycle, like Mike Davis.
- He’s also stated that he wants much more downhill running than lateral running on jet sweeps this year. This is part of the reason they’re running much more pistol formation – the defense must align itself so as to prepare to defend both sides of the Center. In normal gun, the defense can set the DL to one side of the back and expect him to come across the ball.
- Dabo says "Morgan Roberts really made a move…he’s coming on"…Dabo gonna dab.
- Boyd finished 8 of 15 for 89 yards, Stoudt 8 of 13 for 85 with 32 rushing. The only thing to look at there is the completion percentage.
- Nuk Hopkins has reportedly put on as much as 15 lbs. Recall we've felt and stated that he needs about 20 of muscle. Sammy has put on weight as well.
- Martavis Bryant, at 6'4 205, is beating Bellamy in timed sprints in practice. If he learns to run routes better and use that big body, look out. Sammy is finishing first amongst the 3 of course.
How have some of your younger receivers come on this spring like Martavis and Charone?
Chad: "They're coming. We're still making too many mental breakdowns. Charone is being very physical. He may be one of the more physical wideouts we've got now. He's got to start making some plays in the passing game. Martavis has got to be more consistent. Unbelievable talent, but it's the same old song and dance. He's got to be more consistent. We can't halfway run a route one time and fully run it the next time. That's our job to get it right and we will. Their retention level is very high. I'm pleased with their physicality. That's one of the main things I wanted to start with."
What have you seen with your other tight ends aside from Brandon Ford?
Chad: "Sam (cooper) has had a really good spring, very pleased. He's making some plays. He's learning his role. Darrell Smith is another guy who has a role on this team. He's athletic. I'm excited about Darrell. Those are the top three right now that separate themselves. It's those three, then everybody else. You've got MacLain ... he's a hit and miss guy right now. He's still learning formations and how to get lined up right. He's got to understand that his big attribute is that he's got to be physical. He's got to play physical. He's not going to outrun anybody, so he's got to make his money being physical. That's our challenge to him. And he's learning that. He's got some spots right now where we're checking him out and seeing where he fits. But right now it's those three guys."
- Travis Blanks is exclusively working at Nickelback, where they plan to leave him for now. In those situations Venables prefers the bigger guy at NB in run support. However, Venables has been using a little more of the 4-3 Over and using the SAM to pick up the #2/#3 receiver to the strong side. It looks like we’ll see which ends up better in all situations to determine how much true 4-3 vs 4-2-5 we end up playing.
Venables: "What has he done? He's worked hard. He's picked up things fairly well. He's really hard on himself, very prideful. He's got high football intelligence; he’s got good instincts, plays well with his eyes. He's always ready to go every day in the meetings and on the field. You've seen him put one foot in front of the other and make improvement since he's been on campus. I've been very pleased with his progress. He gives us another athlete in space and the ability to match-up with people."
"We're trying to get him really good at the nickel position. Instead of bringing him in and letting him be average at a lot of things, we're trying to get him really good at one thing and go from there. He has enough flexibility to where he can do a number of different things, whether it’s corner, safety or nickel."
- Another difference of Venables compared to Steele is the amount of hands-on instruction he’s giving the LBs. He appears to be focusing on technique and correcting them much more than in the past, and the scheme is allowing them to attack instead of slidestep. Some guys have said his scheme is simpler, and it does have fewer adjustments, but bear in mind that they have been giving them small doses so far.
- Vic Beasley had to start with Goodman out for the scrimmage, and thus far does not appear to be "getting it" at DE. I really hoped he would be coming on at this point. Backup DE Kevin Dodd and Rod Byers were clearly worn down by the tempo. #Batson’d
Venables: "I guess he hasn't played very much. He's athletic, he can rush the passer. He's gotten more physical. He understands what it is to play with technique and leverage. He's playing with discipline. I know he can do it. I guess he's got to do it every snap. That's what we're pushing for."
- The LBs did actually lead the squad in tackles for once. Most of them got compliments on their play, but for whatever reason I did not hear Christian mentioned.
There is another scrimmage Monday and then the Spring game.