CLEMSON - It's been a while since Dabo Swinney's had to get defiant about Clemson's vaunted offense.
"We're going to be pretty good on offense, too," Swinney said Saturday. "Y'all just remember that, all right? Go ahead and write that down."
Not helping matters is the last few weeks of fall camp, when Clemson's proven defensive playmakers have wreaked havoc in the backfield - and now, the back seven is starting to make plays in space.
Which, of course, means good news for the defense but bad for the offense - the nature of intrasquad scrimmages.
"We didn't have any (turnovers) last week. We had zero," Swinney said. "I love that part of what we got done today."
Safety Jadar Johnson and linebacker Tony Steward scored touchdowns off interceptions - Johnson on the scrimmage's second play, which presumably would be off starting quarterback Cole Stoudt (though that part wasn't revealed) - and linebacker Stephone Anthony added a pick in an overtime simulation during Saturday's scrimmage closed to media.
"Man, we just had some fun today," Anthony said. "We flew around, made some good plays and overall everybody came out with an attitude today to do their job."
Stoudt downplayed the offensive struggles afterward.
"We kind of started a little bit slow, but we picked it up," Stoudt said. "Offense made some good plays out there, and we've got some things to correct."
Swinney said running back D.J. Howard had a long touchdown run and wide receiver Adam Humphries hauled in an "ESPN SportsCenter-type catch" Saturday morning.
When a reporter suggested the Tigers might downshift their offensive tempo in an effort to let their defense take over and shorten the 60 minutes, Swinney scorned.
"We do what we do. We are who we are," Swinney said. "I don't think you change philosophies. We've recruited and practiced to a philosophy."
"We've got to go faster," offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. "We had a fairly good tempo (Saturday,) but I'm never really pleased overall with that. Some things kind of slowed us down, and we've got to push the envelope.
"While we do have some veterans on the offensive side the ball, we need heat. We need really a lot of heat right now to make these guys stress pretty hard this next week."
Asked if Morris meant heat from the summer sun or the coaching staff, Morris said, "both."
Fall camp will close Tuesday, ushering in game week for Georgia on Aug. 30. Some game tape has been consumed here and there, but by then starting positions will start to come into focus.
"Man, (fall camp) went by so fast, but we made every opportunity count and we got each other better," defensive tackle DeShawn Williams said. "We're ready to hit somebody else now. We're tired of hitting the same color."
The Tigers rested some proven juniors and seniors - Anthony, Humphries, center Ryan Norton, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett and defensive end Vic Beasley among them - to give more opportunities to rookies Saturday.
"There's an obvious difference in our veterans than some of our younger players in certain areas - as it should be, and that's a good thing," Swinney said.
The Tigers have been outside the past week to soak in some of the hotter temperatures in preparation for a potentially toasty August-ending afternoon at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. - but that's taken away some of the crowd noise Stoudt, Morris and company will hear between the hedges.
Just another obstacle for the often-doubted offense, which was a top-10 unit each of the past two years.
"When this thing's all said and done, we'll be one of the better offenses out there," Swinney said. "I don't have any doubt about it. Are we going to be a finished product game one? I doubt it, but we'll improve as the season goes on."
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