Today we learned that Shaq Anthony has elected to transfer away from Clemson. Based on the level of concern in various comment threads, never would one have thought he was a underweight second-string offensive lineman who was already suspended for one game, but that's the feeling generated by the dwindling depth on the Clemson offensive line.
On the Summer depth chart, Shaq Anthony was listed as the second string tackle at both RT and LT. No other backups were listed for those positions. His transfer brings up a couple of thoughts:
- We listed Joe Gore as our first X-factor in our Clemson X-Factors Series. This transfer further increases his importance. Hopefully this is also an indication that Joe Gore was playing at a level leaps and bounds ahead of Shaq Anthony leaving the latter feeling like would not catch up. There could be much more to the story though, so that may be wishful thinking.
- With the only back-up listed on the depth chart now departed, Clemson will have to rely heavily on their starters, but be quick to pull them from blowouts to keep them fresh and healthy. In those situations, who will step in?
- Reid Webster was recruited as an offensive tackle and enters his fifth year in the program, but has only played sparingly to this point. He is listed alongside Eric Mac Lain and Tyrone Crowder as the backup at guard. Could he shift back to tackle in a pinch?
- Maverick Morris is an offensive tackle coming off his redshirt year. He didn't appear on the Summer depth chart, but is another candidate to step up and get some snaps. He's only a redshirt freshman, so its unclear if he is ready for game action.
- If neither of those players can contribute at this time, does Eric Mac Lain get moved again, now back to tackle?
- We've heard good things about Tyrone Crowder of late, but he's built for the interior line. The same goes with Spencer Region. Dabo was noncommittal about where Kalon Davis would play, though RG seems to make the most sense. In the case of an injury to a starting tackle, does Kalon Davis get forced back to tackle moving David Beasley or one of the centers to backfill his spot. That's obviously less than ideal, but may be the only way to get the five best linemen on the field. A starting line of (from left to right) Battle, Crowder/Beasley, Norton, Davis, and Gore may get the job done, but if an injury hits would there be multiple players shifting out of position (e.g., Norton to guard, Guillermo to the starting lineup, Kalon Davis to RT) just to accommodate it?
- Fellow STS writer Metal Tiger said it best: "It wouldn't even have to be a [injury] bug. Just a common cold taking out Joe Gore or (God forbid) Isiah Battle and we're in deep..."
- Clemson graduated Tyler Shatley and Brandon Thomas last season. Gifford Timothy and Patrick DeStefano also left the program due to injuries. Now with Shaq Anthony leaving the program, that's five offensive linemen Clemson is replacing - though not all were starters. The Tigers will add an outstanding group of offensive linemen in 2015. This situation underscores the importance of recruiting both quality and quantity on the offensive line. Hopefully the staff can continue doing what they did in the 2015 class moving forward, small recruiting classes of offensive line can be costly.