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Clemson Football

Spring Fling: Clemson's spring game was the perfect combination of Sunshine and Sweet Tee

April 14, 2018
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CLEMSON -- There was some good, and there was some bad during team Orange’s 28-17 victory over team White in Clemson’s 2018 spring game.

But a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in Death Valley was the perfect afternoon for a combination of Sunshine and Sweet Tee.

Before Saturday’s spring game, Kelly Bryant was given his offensive MVP award from his performance last season and was greeted to a loud applause from Clemson fans.

Before Saturday’s spring game, Kelly Bryant was given his offensive MVP award from his performance last season and was greeted to a loud applause from Clemson fans.

In the second offensive series for team Orange, in came freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence to an even louder roar from the crowd. It didn’t take long for fans to finally see what all the hype has been about.

On his second attempt, the player some refer to as "Sunshine" found a streaking Tee Higgins perfectly in stride for a 50-yard touchdown. The two made it look easy, and Clemson fans could leave happily knowing what is in store down the road.

Obviously, this Lawrence kid was the story of the day as he looked confident and poised from the very moment he stepped on the field. He finished with an 11-for-16 clip for 122 yards and a 50-yard touchdown.

The hype machine is now at full-throttle.

A solid showing in Lawrence’s debut left Clemson fans craving for more connections with Higgins as they exited into a beautiful April afternoon.

Speaking of Higgins, man did he make a statement.

The team with the orange jerseys were filled with players looking for something to prove, including a couple of young receivers in Higgins and Amari Rodgers.

The consensus from both offensive coordinators this spring has been Clemson needs to make more explosive plays and take advantage. On the first play of the game, Hunter Johnson found Higgins on a fade route down the left sideline for 37 yards.

“That was an area where we challenged our entire offense and said, ‘let’s go be explosive,’” Tony Elliott after both offenses had a 50-yard touchdown on the day. “Last year we were a different unit. We had a lot of new guys. Now we are at a point where those guys have experience, and now we got some guys with some confidence that can go make some plays.”

The guy who looked the most confident was in orange wearing No. 5.

Higgins, again, made another impressive catch on third down this time on a back shoulder throw. At the end of the first quarter, Higgins scored again on an 18-yard back-shoulder throw from Johnson over AJ Terrell for his fourth catch of the afternoon.

He scored the first 14 points of the game for team Orange and finished the afternoon with four catches, 118 yards, and two touchdowns. All of which came in the first quarter.

He scored the first 14 points of the game for team Orange and finished the afternoon with four catches, 118 yards, and two touchdowns. All of which came in the first quarter.

Emphasis on the Sweet.

“This was a great day for Tee Higgins as far as just his confidence,” a happy Dabo Swinney said.

The epitome of this spring for Clemson’s offense and its quarterbacks has been there have been some good moments as well as some bad. While there was plenty for fans to be excited about going forward, there were some moments some of these guys would like to have back.

Like quarterback Kelly Bryant, who just couldn’t seem to get it going offensively for the veterans on Team White. In just seven offensive series with Bryant at the controls, Bryant only picked up one first down.

© David Grooms/Clemson Sports Talk
Kelly Bryant seemed out of sync during the spring game passing for just 35 yards.

He finished the afternoon completing eight of his 15 passes for a mere 35 yards. Swinney said if Clemson played today, Bryant would still be the first guy out there but the season doesn’t start today.

It starts in September. There’s still a ton left to prove for Bryant as young guns Lawrence, Bryant, and Chase Brice jockey for position in this intriguing quarterback race.

Brice, who sometimes is looked at as the odd man out, had an impressive day for team White almost willing them back in the second half to make it a game. He led three scoring drives on the afternoon resulting in 17 points but a Trayvon Mullen pick-six on a slant route all but put the game away.

Brice threw for 231 yards, 50 of them coming on a touchdown pass to Diondre Overton over the middle. His three interceptions will overshadow a performance that should keep him in mind during this quarterback competition as well.

Greg Huegel got to step out in front of 55,000 fans in attendance and kick a few field goals against air while still returning from an ACL tear last fall. The adrenaline had to be pumping for Huegel like never before as he approached a few kicks and drilled a 43-yarder and showed plenty of leg strength in a 49-yarder that bounced off the upright.

The offenses sputtered after the fireworks from the first quarter as Brent Venables' defenses showed what they could do.

The two defense forced five three-and-outs combined in the second quarter alone and picked off two passes, one from Johnson and one from Brice.

The two defense forced five three-and-outs combined in the second quarter alone and picked off two passes, one from Johnson and one from Brice.

Both defenses performed well and were treated to a nice showing from the defensive lines. An improved running game was held at bay as team Orange, led by Tavien Feaster, was held to 39 yards. Team White was held to 74 yards and was led by Travis Etienne’s 42 yards on eight carries and a touchdown.

Each member of the group known as the Power Rangers got at least one sack. Christian Wilkins’ first sack brought fans to their feet in appreciation of his return to Clemson. It was one of seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss for team White.

But the most notable play of the day came on a sack for team White.

Lawrence, again, stood as poised as he could in the pocket with the massive Wilkins coming right for him. With big No. 42 in his face, Lawrence delivered a 60-yard strike to Higgins who made another spectacular catch.

The only problem was, with quarterbacks not being live, the play was called a sack as Wilkins grazed Lawrence’s body. This was the first of two scenarios where Lawrence was down by contact after completing a pass.

“Christian would have crushed him,” Swinney joked. “We try to be fair to those guys we don't want them to leave their feet or launch.”

The fans didn’t care. They didn’t see a sack, but only another perfectly thrown deep-ball connection between two incredible talents.

While trying to be fair, everyone sat back amazed looking on at Clemson's completely unfair quarterback situation.

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