We saw several plays similar to this one during the spring game last weekend. Once the pocket broke down, Willie Simmons promptly improvised by turning a potential sack into positive yardage.
That was something he wasn't doing as much earlier in the spring. "I think Willie always felt he had to make the big play and that got him in some trouble, especially early in the spring," offensive coordinator Brad Scott said.
"We had too many turnovers out of him because he was always trying to make something happen, he was always looking for the big play. Now he's learned to tuck it or throw it away. His decision-making has really improved. That gives us a lot of confidence in him and gives him a lot of confidence leaving the field this spring."
We've seen Willie Simmons get off to sort of a slow start in the past. It generally takes him a while to adjust to a different type of a role, and this year that role is being the first team quarterback of the Clemson Tigers.
The spring game certainly saw Simmons perform at a higher level than what we had seen in previous scrimmages. He finished the day by completing 13-of-25 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown. Just as impressive is the fact that he gained an additional 48 yards on the ground in just 6 carries.
That probably doesn't mean that Tommy Bowden will be putting 5 versions of the quarterback draw back into the playbook though. "If we rush for over 200 yards, 100 won't be Willie's. Twenty or 30 or 40 will be Willie's and the rest will be the running backs'," Bowden said.
Simmons is unquestionably a better pure passing quarterback than former Clemson great Woody Dantzler, and the coaching staff has indicated many times that they will taylor their play calling to Willie's strengths.
Those strengths were on display several times Saturday afternoon, most notably on the exceptional corner route that was caught by Derrick Hamilton for a 19-yard touchdown midway through the 2nd quarter. If you remember correctly, that play looked very familar to several touchdown passes he threw two years ago at North Carolina and against Georgia Tech.
In the red zone, Simmons seems to have the uncanny ability to place the football where only the wide receiver can catch it, and that's definitely good news for Clemson fans. Hopefully we'll be seeing more of those kind of plays this fall, but for now, we'll have to settle for highlights of the spring game this past Saturday.
Willie Scrambles Out of the Pocket
Insider Video: QB Willie Simmons
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