Clemson Spring Football Game: 5 Things That Matter
What do you need to know about what happened in the Clemson spring football game?
1. It Was … Different
Last year’s spring game had a purpose.
Deshaun Watson and the rest of the team practiced and scrimmaged like the national title game against Alabama in Glendale was about to go into overtime. There was an intensity and sharpness for a team looking to make amends for the loss.
Yeah … this spring game wasn’t quite like that.
The rings were handed out, the heroes were back, and the record-setting – for Clemson – spring crowd got its moment of joy.
But the scrimmage itself showed just how far this team has to go to be that team.
2. Deshaun Watson Isn’t Suiting Up
The Clemson quarterback situation is going to be more than fine.
Likely season-starter Kelly Bryant hurt his hand early on, and it showed, connecting on 4-of-13 passes with his aim off the entire time. However, he ran well and came up with a few nice plays – okay, his best moment was a shovel pass. There’s no reason to worry, but now everyone will have to wait to see him turn the passing game loose.
Superstar-recruit Hunter Johnson wasn’t hot, either, completing just 5-of-13 throws with a pick. However, for everyone looking for the upside and potential, he showed it off with a brilliant pass for a score. In terms of arm and NFL skill, it’ll all be there – eventually.
Fellow freshman Zerrick Cooper was sharper on his short-range throws, and Tucker Israel came up with a nice touchdown pass and was okay overall. Neither one, though, did anything deep. There was a reason for that, though …
3. The Quarterbacks Were Live
Unlike last year – when punishment for touching Deshaun Watson in spring ball was death, or worse – the quarterbacks were free to be hit. It was like they were playing for real, because they were.
The quarterbacks aren’t live in spring ball at most places, which sometimes is why some of the numbers get so skewed. Almost any competent quarterback can dominate when he’s not under any real pressure and doesn’t have to worry. The Clemson passers had to go against a national title-level defense.
And you’re shocked that they struggled, why?
4. The Ground Game Will Be Fine, Too
Everyone will come away from the spring game discussing the quarterback situation, but the receiving corps (solid) and the secondary (great) will start to receive more and more attention over the summer. The running backs will also be under more of a microscope.
Wayne Gallman was the unsung superstar over the last two years, and while he won’t be as hard to replace as Watson, it’s not going to be easy.
Watson was the man, the receivers were amazing, and the defense was dominant, but Gallman was the tough, steadying force who helped balance things out while owning the goal line. He’ll be missed, but C.J. Fuller did a decent job in the scrimmage, running for 51 yards against an active defensive front.
He and Tavian Feaster – the top two returning rushers – should provide a dangerous 1-2 punch. Considering the young quarterbacks need work, but running backs will be featured more and more.
5. Spring Game, Schming Game. Clemson Got Xavier Thomas
And the stars just keep on coming.
Yeah, the Clemson spring game was just okay, and the offense was hardly anything special, but the program was a massive winner, getting a verbal commitment from Xavier Thomas, 2018’s top defensive end recruit.
The 6-3, 255-pound pass rushing prospect out of Florida blew off South Carolina, Alabama and Ohio State, and he’s got all the tools to be special right out of the box – next year.