But as much as Swinney was frustrated in Kelly's poor performance, the receiver was equally as disgusted in his own play.
"I was doing a lot of things right, but I was dropping the ball," Kelly said. "I was running the right route and having the right read and I'd get there and drop the ball. … The first part of camp was very, very disappointing for me because of all the work I put in during the summer and to come out and not perform as well as I know I could."
However, all that seemed to change when Swinney told Kelly on the eve before the team's first scrimmage that he had been dropped to second team and that Rendrick Taylor, who had been in the slot position, was now the starter at his position out wide.
Ever since then Kelly has been excelling and has climbed back into a tie for the starting spot with Taylor.
"It was the right decision," Kelly said of being demoted. "I wasn't performing very well. I just knew that it was going to take more work and consistency. As a competitor, you don't want to get your spot taking away. It made me mad and it was something that kind of lit a fire in me to push even harder.
"Obviously, I wasn't doing enough if I got dropped to second team, so I figured I'd just do a little more and get my spot back.
What that meant for Kelly was staying after practice and catching extra balls.
Slowly but surely, everything started to return back to norm. He felt like his old self again.
"I just put in some extra work after practice catching some balls and got my confidence back up and started making a few plays," he said. "Once that stuff starts happening, your confidence starts to soar and you just play better. I just figure if you keep doing extra work, things are going to work out for you."
Assuming Taylor and Kelly continue to excel, Swinney said he could envision Taylor moving back to the slot. But even if the positions stay the same, there are multiple formations in which the two are on the field at the same time, which mean defenses could be in for a long day.
RASHAAD'S PHOBIA: It seems strange that someone who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 270 pounds would be scared of anything. But it seems sophomore defensive tackle Rashaad Jackson has a phobia.
Jackson doesn't like to start.
"Yeah, he does (have a phobia to start)," defensive line coach Chris Rumph said. "It's the strangest thing. He and Jock (McKissic) are both battling real hard, but he doesn't want to start for some reason. He feels better off the bench and we're fortunate enough that at that position that we a guy like McKissic that can start.
"He's not just a guy that we're throwing in there because we have to. He's right up there with Rashaad."
DORRELL SCOTT UPDATE: The play of sophomore Dorell Scott on the defensive line has been very good and he is expected to lock down the starting position over Donnell Clark, who has knee issues, but a strained hamstring has kept Scott out of practice the last few days.
Rumph said Scott's hamstring problem extends all the way down to his knee, but he believes Scott will be back on the field sooner rather than later.
Notebook: Kelly's Turnaround Complete
CUTigers.com Top Stories
GRADES AND ANALYSIS: NC State#3 Clemson committed 4 turnovers, including 3 in the red zone and a pick-six, in its 24-17 overtime win over NC State in Death Valley.
CUTigers.comThursday at 2:52 PM
Clemson Basketball Media DayWatch Head Coach Brad Brownell and his assistant coaches discuss the upcoming basketball season at Clemson Media Day!
CUTigers.comThursday at 1:30 PM
PHOTO GALLERY: #3 Clemson vs NC StateEnjoy these images from Clemson's thrilling overtime victory versus NC State in Death Valley, courtesy of CUTigers Photographer John Bolton!
CUTigers.comThursday at 11:12 AM
College coaches who could get hired awayWhy these highly sought college football coaches would leave (and why they could stay)
ScoutThursday at 10:00 AM