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2015 Clemson Football Participation: Defensive Backs

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Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

I was hoping to get the final snap counts from the Alabama game before publishing, but the percentages aren't going to change a whole lot with them. So to start things off we are going to take a look at the defensive backs participation. If you are new to the site it has been a long standing tradition to examine the snap counts of each player at the end of the season. This gives you a better idea of the true starters on the team as well as just how much experience is being lost or returning at each position. For defensive backs we have the individual participation numbers below with a graphical breakdown of the snaps by class at the end of the article.

Player Year Position Wofford App State Louisville Notre Dame Georgia Tech Boston College Miami NC State FSU Syracuse Wake South Carolina UNC Oklahoma Total Snaps
Van Smith Freshman S 0 0 0 0 0 0 16 0 1 0 17 0 38 3 75
Jefferie Gibson R Freshman S 12 25 0 0 0 0 22 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 59
T.J. Green Junior S 50 52 65 69 55 62 39 70 54 51 17 69 25 75 753
Jadar Johnson Junior S 15 32 5 25 3 17 14 21 10 4 27 12 10 28 223
Jayron Kearse Junior S 53 36 66 68 53 50 37 70 59 55 47 69 65 62 790

There is no way to sugar coat this, the defensive backs are in a particularly ugly situation for returning experience. We lost 4 of our 5 starters this year, I'm considering Travis Blanks our NB starter as the 3rd highest snap total at CB. We return right around 300 snaps at safety, mainly in the form of Jadar Johnson with 223. Percentage wise that is less than 20% of the snaps taken in 2015. And it is all coming at a position where experience and an ability to diagnose the play is critical. If you ever doubt the importance of football IQ in the secondary just look at that Alabama game and a few of those big miscues.

At CB things are better solely because Cordrea Tankersly is returning. That gives Clemson nearly 55% of the snaps back in 2016, though we will likely be without the services of Adrian Baker after he tore his ACL in spring practice. But with Tankersly returning Brent Venables will only have to replace one CB spot, likely to be Ryan Carter based on what we've heard from the coaches though there is hope Mark Fields will be able to step up.

Player Year Position Wofford App State Louisville Notre Dame Georgia Tech Boston College Miami NC State FSU Syracuse Wake South Carolina UNC Oklahoma Total Snaps
Mackensie Alexander R Sophomore CB 41 26 67 66 53 49 26 66 61 47 0 69 67 65 703
Adrian Baker R Sophomore CB 17 33 0 4 2 9 34 2 25 10 42 42 0 0 220
Travis Blanks R Junior CB 39 23 15 52 10 51 11 68 33 57 40 17 5 18 439
Ryan Carter R Sophomore CB 15 30 31 19 0 0 13 0 0 0 16 0 62 47 233
Marcus Edmond R Sophomore CB 12 24 0 0 0 0 14 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 53
Mark Fields Freshman CB 0 10 0 0 0 0 23 0 0 0 21 0 0 16 70
Cordrea Tankersley Junior CB 39 49 67 71 55 57 38 68 57 57 50 69 67 72 816

Based on grade, CBs will have some decent experience while the safety position is young. Both positions will have a single senior, but the CBs will be stocked with several redshirt juniors entering their 4th year of college. At safety there is a lot of youth freshman and sophomores outside of Jadar Johnson. This is where we see recruiting problems crop up when we overload on single positions, like linebacker. A few guys decide to leave early and all of a sudden the team has a big bubble of youth at a position. Smart recruiting going forward will help mitigate this, but in 3 years we could see another lack of DBs if the young talent pans out. If both positions look thin remember that we have several incoming freshman to help improve numbers, but experience will still be a question.