Jamie Harper and the Clemson running game highlighted Clemson’s final preseason scrimmage from an offensive standpoint. Dabo Swinney’s team ran 46 running plays in a 70-play scrimmage on Tuesday morning at Death Valley.
The Tigers finished fall camp on Tuesday, as school begins on Wednesday at Clemson University. The Tigers will take Wednesday off, then go back to the practice fields on Thursday through Saturday for one practice a day.
The team will hold its annual Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday at 3:00 PM at Clemson Memorial Stadium.
“We have had a good camp and I am pleased with the progress we made,” said Swinney. “We still have a long way to go to get ready for he opener.”
Harper had eight carries for 91 yards on the day, including a 56-yard run in a short yardage situation. Andre Ellington had nine rushes for 28 yards and three receptions or 35.
The second leading rusher was actually quarterback Kyle Parker, who had four carries for 50 yards, including a 29-yard run for a score early in the scrimmage. Willy Korn also scored on a 19-yard run during the scrimmage.
The defense was led by Rashard Hall and Xavier Brewer with five tackles apiece. Ricky Sapp and Da’Quan Bowers continued to play well and both had sacks.
Overall, Swinney was pleased with the team’s performance in what he termed a situational scrimmage. “We worked on a lot of special situations today. We had a two-minute drill, end of game situations, milking the clock, things of that nature,” said Swinney.
“Jamie Harper had a great day. He ran the ball very well. He is one of the best practice guys we have. He works so hard every day. On that 56-yard run he showed you what kind of speed he has. The offense was just trying to get a first down and he popped it for six.
“We worked very hard on the running game today. We had a physical practice.”
Swinney said he was disappointed in the field goal kicking game. “If we started today I don’t know who I would put out there for the first place kick. All three kickers are hitting the ball well. Leg strength is not the issue, it is accuracy and consistency.” Between the pregame kicking drill and the scrimmage, all three kickers (Spencer Benton, Richard Jackson and Chandler Catanzaro) were a combined 4-12 on field goal attempts. Catanzaro is a freshman from Greenville and was a high school teammate of Clemson lineman J.K. Jay. Jackson did make a 53-yard field goal on the last play of the scrimmage.
Swinney said after practice that some players will alternate wearing number-17 throughout the season in honor of Stanley Hunter. Hunter lettered last year as a linebacker and led the team in fewest plays per tackle (37 in just 158 snaps). But, the sophomore from Spartanburg and Byrnes High School was forced to give up football this year due to problems with epilepsy.
“Recently some of the players have come to me and asked to wear #17 during the year in honor of Stanley Hunter. That shows you the level of respect the guys have for him. Brandon Maye is going to wear it for the first game and Willy Korn (his high school teammte) will wear 17 for the Georgia Tech game.”
Rendrick Taylor and Miguel Chavis missed the scrimmage pulled hamstrings. Jacoby Ford, did not scrimmage, but went through drills last night and is close to returning. Brandon Clear is still out with a rib injury. Jamie Cumbie and Chris Hairston, who had been injured earlier, were back at practice.
Post practice audio:
Dabo Swinney (25:13)
Billy Napier (5:33)
Jamie Harper (2:17)
Kyle Parker (2:46)
Thomas Austin (2:58)