Tiger co-coordinators ready for home opener

By Robbie Tinsley
Courtesy The Journal

CLEMSON — The Clemson football team that runs onto the field Saturday to face Wofford to open the season will bear little resemblance to the Tigers who beat South Carolina in their final home game last season.

Rex Brown/Courtesy The Journal Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott leads a drill during practice last month.

Rex Brown/Courtesy The Journal
Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott leads a drill during practice last month.

From the mass exodus of players lost to graduation and the NFL, to the turbulent offseason that saw the loss of a few more prominent players, to an influx of young talent, the fact Clemson has a pair of new co-offensive coordinators replacing Chad Morris has almost been lost in the shuffle.

The promotion of Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott is old news at this point, but the former Clemson teammates will be calling their first game together at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Elliott, who originally planned to go into the engineering field after graduation, admitted the thought of being the head of the Clemson offense would have been a head-scratcher to his college-aged self. But he would’ve been happy to hear who his partner in scheme would be.

“If you’d told me 15 years ago that Jeff was going to be the guy I was working with, I’d said, ‘Let’s go do it,’” Elliott said Monday. “It’s because of that relationship. We have a lot of the same values outside of football, a lot of the same values inside of football, and at the end of the day, we’re both Clemson Tigers.”

“We understand that it’s about these young people, this program and helping both be successful. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.”

Scott has been a full-time assistant since head coach Dabo Swinney’s interim appointment during the middle of the 2008 season, as Swinney promoted the then-graduate assistant as wide receivers coach — Swinney’s former post. Elliott was hired to replace Andre Powell as the Tigers’ running backs coach — moving from Furman to his alma mater — in 2011, the same year Morris was hired as Clemson’s offensive coordinator.

Scott doesn’t anticipate Saturday feeling much different than any other game he’s worked as an assistant.

“Tony and I have been together for four years on those headsets,” he said. “It’s really not all that different than what we’ve done on game day in the past, except for the fact that Chad won’t be there to make the final call.”

The coordinators look at their split duties as a blessing, not having to choose between being a lone decision maker who has to decide between calling plays on the field or from the coaches’ box. As in the Tigers’ bowl win over Oklahoma, Scott will be on the field, with Elliott having a bird’s-eye view.

On Saturday, Elliott will be going against an old Southern Conference foe from his time with the Paladins.

“First and foremost, Wofford is going to be a very tough football team,” he said. “They’re going to be very disciplined. They’re going to run their scheme. They’re going to make you execute at a high level in order to beat them.”

Elliott said there are similarities, scheme-wise, between Wofford and Oklahoma — both teams are built to stop the run, making teams beat them through the air.

Due to the talent gap between the teams, it’s likely a lot of freshmen will get their first chance to play Saturday, provided the Tigers build enough of a lead. With 40 players on the team who are either true or redshirt freshmen, building some depth with some early-season experience against Wofford and Appalachian State — the Tigers’ opponent on Sept. 12 — is crucial.

“Coach Swinney’s philosophy has always been that he wants to play the guys who deserve to play,” Scott said. “At the wide receiver position some years, I’ve had maybe five guys who fit that category. This year, I feel like I’ve got eight. On the offensive line, we feel like those young guys have come on and if there are some opportunities, we’d like to see those guys play.”


Clemson released its first depth chart of the season on Monday. Of note, and as expected, Mitch Hyatt is slated to be the first true freshman offensive lineman to start for the Tigers in his first game since Phil Prince in 1944. True freshman Garrett Williams is listed as the first tight end to come off the bench should the Tigers use a two tight-end set. Christian Wilkins and Scott Pagano are co-starters at D.J. Reader’s vacated defensive tackle spot. Reader left the team indefinitely last week for personal reasons. Redshirt freshman C.J. Fuller, an Easley High School graduate, is listed as a starting kickoff returner, along with safety T.J. Green.