CLEMSON -- The second scrimmage of the summer Saturday indicated there will be offensive life after C.J. Spiller.
Even with the 2009 ACC Player of the Year debuting as a Buffalo Bill a night earlier, the Clemson offense performed at a higher level than at the same point last August when Willy Korn was sharing first-team snaps at quarterback, and the offensive line was riddled with question marks.
At Memorial Stadium on Saturday, quarterback Kyle Parker appeared in midseason form, completing 10 of 14 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns.
Though working against reserve defenders, Roderick McDowell again led the team in rushing, running 12 times for 127 yards. The redshirt freshman might have cemented his status as the team's top reserve back.
And at the wide-open receiver position, competition and production remain at high levels.
"We are much further ahead just because it's year two in our system," said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney of the progress from last summer. "We've got a bunch of linemen up front that have been playing together for three years now. Just better players, just smarter players.
"I don't think we had a single penalty with the first two groups. We ran the ball well. We threw the ball well. KP was extremely sharp."
Last summer the offense was slow to develop in part because of a quarterback competition and inexperienced line. Clemson scored seven offensive touchdowns in its first five games versus 40 during its last nine.
This summer Clemson has one of the more experienced lines in the ACC, and the nation's second best sophomore quarterback in the country, according to the Sporting News.
The offense might not have the explosive capabilities it had last year with Spiller, but Andre Ellington did his best Spiller impersonation in the passing game Saturday, scoring on a 34-yard wheel route -- the exact route Spiller thrived on last year. Ellington added a second receiving touchdown via a check-down from Parker.
"I think him and Jamie (Harper) both catch the ball well," Parker said. "(They excel) when we get them mismatched on a linebacker."
Spiller caught four touchdowns and accounted for eight plays of 20-plus yards in the passing game last season, but Swinney is optimistic Ellington and Harper can pick up some of the lost production.
"The (back) that gives us the best opportunity right now throwing the ball is Jamie Harper -- he has top-three hands on the team," Swinney said. "The guy is phenomenal catching the ball. … Andre, physically he can do it, he's got to be a consistent finisher."
The staff says there is still little separation at wide receiver with seven players rotating in and out with the first team.
Terrance Ashe led the receivers with five receptions for 76 yards, and Marquan Jones -- who has created some separation at the slot position -- continued his productive camp with three catches for 52 yards, including a scoring pass from Parker.
Freshman DeAndre Hopkins showed off his playmaking ability and ability to make adjustments with a 50-yard scoring catch, albeit against the third-team defense.
"The biggest thing was that was the exact same play, the exact same situation as last Tuesday when he didn't make the catch," receivers coach Jeff Scott said. "We go in the film room, we watch his release, … he comes back four days later and makes the play. That's what falls camp is all about."
Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele lamented several big plays allowed in the passing game. Steele was pleased the first-team defense limited the offense to 2.3 yards per rush, the same number as in the first scrimmage. The defense continued to play without Da'Quan Bowers who attended his father's funeral Saturday.
"Two (missed assignments) created big plays," Steele said. "The numbers say what they are."
Bryce McNeal was able to play in Saturday's scrimmage despite an ankle sprain. … Swinney said the kicker competition between Spencer Benton and Richard Jackson "is going to be a battle." … Byron Maxwell missed the scrimmage. He is roommates with Bowers and attended Dennis Bowers' funeral Saturday.
Reach Travis Sawchik at email@example.com.