Once again we are returning to an annual series by taking a look at the snap totals for Clemson football. We've broken down each position by snap totals based on players and class. All of the snap data can be found on the Clemson website in this handy little game notes pdf. A quick reminder that all of this data is only for snaps on offense or defense. It does not account for any snaps played on special teams. Today we are going to take a look at the rather experienced defensive line.
First our DEs, as you can see we had a fairly strong 2-deep here. We had about 800 defensive snaps this season and between Beasley, Barnes, Crawford, and Lawson the DE position was well covered. The downside to that is only Shaq Lawson is back next year. Barnes, Beasley, and Crawford are all gone and that isn't a good thing by any stretch.
Seniors and grad students account for almost 75% of the snaps taken this year. That is a huge concern, especially when another 17% of the snaps were by one player. Outside of Lawson we simply don't have much experience at the DE position. Yes, we can talk about potential some of the current players have, but we all know that potential means squat once games actually start. We've spent a lot of time talking about the "correct' position for Albert Huggins, but given his athleticism Clemson may need him to contribute significantly to provide enough depth at the position. I'm not sold on Kevin Dodd and the other DEs just yet, despite what the coaches may be saying.
Unfortunately things aren't much better for the defensive tackles. We are losing 3 players that were part of the two deep in Grady Jarrett, Josh Watson, and Deshawn Williams. Once again though we do see just how deep Clemson was along the DL with 4 players seeing significant snaps as well as a fifth, Carlos Watkins, who got more than just some garbage time snaps.
Once again we see just how much Clemson is losing up front. 74% of the snaps from last season will be gone, a rather significant number. The good news, at least in theory, is that Carlos Watkins should be able to fill one of the starting spots. After a deadly car accident in September 2013, it took a long time for Watkins to fully recover. Even during the 2014 season he may not have been fully back to his pre-accident form, but if he can get to that level in 2015 it will be great for everyone. In addition to Watkins, DJ Reader seems likely to help anchor the line at DT. Reader has experience and there is a belief around the program that he and Watkins can combine to be a formidable force. The downside is that once again there isn't much depth. Even Scott Pagano only got 50 snaps this season and if Watkins or Reader goes down with injury it could be difficult to replace them.
It was a spectacular season in 2014 because of the depth and experience Clemson had along the DL, but that depth and experience isn't going to be easily replaced this year, it may even take another year or two to get back to that level.