You can never take too much away from the Spring Game. It is a glorified scrimmage and coaches put little emphasis on it when they evaluate players. I'm looking for larger trends and evaluating things like athleticism and decision making.
First thing to say is that the crowd showed up. Lower bowl of the stadium was pretty much full and the 50,500 number isn't an exaggeration and the numbers were way better than USCjr numbers.
Lets start with the Ugly, get it out of the way.
Umm...weren't we supposed to be working on this phase of the game? Yes, I know the teams were divided up and Dabo said that some walk-ons were on the field to just play teams, but still it was ugly. Alex Spence did not have a good day. Started with the kick out of bounds and shanked an easy FG around 30 yards. He doesn't have accuracy or leg strength. Huegel isn't much better on kickoffs. Average starting distance was around the 10-15 yard line. That is unacceptable and it is the reason Clemson is looking for another walk-on kicker this summer. Goodness.
Scott has some nice returns but they were the result of low line drive kicks straight to the returner. That was some of the worst punting I have seen in a long time. No distance and no air time. If you are going to do rugby style kicks (which is what they looked like because the kicks were so bad), they should be angled and delayed so the coverage team can get further down field. How about we have an exchange with the Utah special teams staff, go grab an Aussie or two in the future.
RayRay McCloud showed you why he is still not gaining the complete trust and confidence of the staff yet. He has all the talent in the world and had over a hundred yards receiving, but on the punt that he fielded inside the 5 yard line where he fell down he made a mental error. You never field a line drive punt headed straight for the endzone inside the 10, let alone the 5. RayRay is still one of my breakout candidates though for this year. Made some great grabs and consistently makes guys miss.
Artavis Scott being in the game late in the third quarter and slightly tweaking his knee. Seemed fine afterward, but that was certainly scary.
Dexter Lawrence is filthy--the good kind of ugly. He was double teamed pretty much every single play and was everything we heard he would be.
Deshaun Watson plays in his first Spring Game and he was incredibly sharp.
Hunter Renfrow was too good.
No fumbles that I remember seeing.
Not a ton of mental busts on the offensive line. Sure guys were getting beat but I didn't see a lot of complete busts--need to rewatch Oline specifically, but felt like they generally had a good day for both teams. QBs had time in the pocket and were able to step up in the pocket to make some throws. RBs had some clear lanes. Good to see a guy like walk-on Logan Tisch #72 getting some good minutes. Only guy who I saw struggle a bit was Maverick Morris at times.
Wayne Gallman looks about 5 pounds heavier and has the same burst. He should have a special season. I liked what I saw from Adam Choice who showed a nice burst and Dye and Fuller were also fine. I think Choice is going to be the backup but Dye shouldn't be counted out. Coaches like Fuller's overall skill set (blocking, catching, etc.)--Swinney said as much in his broadcast.
Seth Ryan definitely won the Paul Macko Spring Standout award. Made some great catches. I was impressed with Scott's burst but he still needs to be more dominant on jump balls down the field (this is why I can't wait for Mike Williams and Deon Cain to be back).
Jordan Leggett looked dominant and then got out of the game. Important with all the guys behind him needing reps. Well executed, should have been the same for Scott.
Nick Schuessslerrrr had himself a game. That is the best I have seen him throw the ball down the field in a scrimmage setting probably ever. Threw with accuracy and zip, even stepped up in the pocket. Also showed his craftiness with the zone read and deceptive speed. Folks Bryant is the better runner than Deshaun and truly elite as a runner but Schuessler will not be counted out. Impressive game.
On defense I thought Austin Bryant had a fantastic game. He got off the ball but showed great awareness and batted down two balls. Looks to have fully healed after have some minor injuries during Spring practice.
Kendall Joseph was all over the field and has definitely secured his spot next to Boulware as the starter at MLB. I liked what I saw from Shaq Smith and Tre Lamar. Lamar is such a hard tackler, he puts people on the ground. They both missed some gaps and need the game to slow down but they should both contribute this year. Dorian O'Daniel played well and didn't get burned much in pass coverage.
Richard Yeargin had a nice day as well. Good motor and pursuit. Hard to judge the pass rush because we get the ball out so quickly.
Bad-ish (Nothing was really that bad)
No caused fumbles that I remember seeing.
Pump the brakes on the Kelly Bryant hating. He isn't able to run the way he normally would. That is taking away his strength. He continues to struggle with some of his decision making but he is way ahead of where he was last year at the same time. Started making good throws and having confidence, but made some bad decisions and didn't rebound as strongly. He will be fine.
Trevion Thompson showed why he is still in a reserve role. Made some great catches but was inconsistent and dropped some catchable balls. He still has time to continue to develop, but right now is lacking that focus and consistency--needs to switch gloves with Seth Ryan.
Christian Wilkins looked fine on the outside but I want to really watch the tape before wanting this to be more than a situational thing. Pagano, Watkins and Dexter give you a winning grade but I thought Huggins started out great but then got pushed around more as the game wore on and Robinson still isn't where you want him to be with regards to core strength. Cervenka and Johnson are still going to need time. I liked what I saw from Pinkney actually more than those two.
Chris Register is a project out there at DE. Clelin Ferrell looks the part and had some great plays early but wasn't as dominant as the game continued it seemed--need to see the tape.
Main problem is in the secondary. Just a lot of inconsistency. Safeties aren't always in position. Van Smith made some nice plays (almost picked off Bryant) but also missed some tackles and assignments. You saw with Mark Fields that he has the athleticism and almost the full package, but isn't a lockdown corner yet. Inconsistency. Guys have the talent but need more seasoning. I think Jadar Johnson and Smith will be fine and Tank and Carter/Fields will also be alright. You hope Edmond can step up, great interception but then got burned by RayRay. That will be a slightly above average secondary but if anyone gets injured then it gets scary.
Denzel Johnson is a sure tackler but he and Tanner Muse still have a ways to go before they can be relied on in a game situation. Jalen Williams got embarrassed by Hunter Renfrow. Not a great day for him.
Amir Trapp looks very short.
Overall I loved watching how our offensive scheme put so much pressure on the entire defense. Ball gets out quick, defense gets tired and then you hit them over the top after punching them in the mouth. Fix the special teams and improve in the secondary and this will be a special team if healthy.