As in previous years we are taking a look at the snap counts of each position for Clemson football. Rather than starts, number of snaps is a good indicator of true experience. All of the numbers used in this are through the Orange Bowl, they do not include the national championship game. These snap totals also only include snaps on offense or defense, special teams participation is not counted. Players in bold will not be returning for 2016.
2016 was finally the year Clemson got an OL. After years of complaints about poor recruiting and poor development, the OL became a source of strength for Clemson and is a big reason why the Tigers were 10 minutes away from a national championship. The OL allowed Clemson to finally call a power running game between the A gaps that led to a dynamic offense that could beat teams in a variety of ways. Add in the ability of Deshaun Watson and it was no wonder we got spoiled.
|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|
|Tyrone Crowder||R Sophomore||OL||35||59||68||65||56||62||47||78||2||0||0||54||62||89||677|
|Justin Falcinelli||R Freshman||OL||38||17||0||2||20||2||33||0||0||0||7||0||0||4||123|
|Joe Gore||R Graduate||OL||44||57||60||65||43||77||44||80||86||84||33||54||89||75||891|
|Jay Guillermo||R Junior||OL||40||50||71||65||61||78||58||80||86||88||72||70||98||90||1007|
|Taylor Hearn||R Freshman||OL||28||17||0||3||24||14||43||0||0||0||19||12||7||13||180|
|Eric MacLain||R Graduate||OL||43||58||71||60||67||76||54||80||86||88||68||74||98||88||1011|
|Maverick Morris||R Sophomore||OL||35||17||7||0||21||25||41||2||84||74||64||20||36||3||429|
|Ryan Norton||R Graduate||OL||25||25||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||14||28||4||0||6||102|
|Zach Riggs||R Sophomore||OL||14||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||0||0||0||17|
|Harris Tucker||R Senior||OL||7||0||0||0||0||4||0||0||0||0||4||0||0||0||15|
OL is different from DL because although you want to have high numbers, your starters usually play the majority of a game barring injury or a blowout. Because of this you usually see 5 OL with a snap count nearing 1000 and then several other guys getting into the 200-300 range for snaps. Because of an injury to Tyrone Crowder, Maverick Morris and Jake Fruhmorgen were able to pick up some additional snaps beyond just backup duty time.
Honestly as much as it can hurt to lose a starting OL to injury, that experience can really pay off in the future. Most OLs tend to have turnover of at least 1-2 players each year, and getting quality replacements can be hard. We've talked at length about how difficult lineman can be to project and develop, so that experience can give coaches a much better idea of the OL situation.
For 2016 Clemson will have to replace Joe Gore and Eric McClain, but they have several candidates to do so, but the big surprise is probably Taylor Hearn at LG. He has a little bit of experience as a backup, but he's going to be the guy heading into fall camp. Fruhmorgen is still developing and while he will provide some backup snaps, he doesn't seem quite ready to make the step to a starter. Then depending on how fall camp goes there are several options for the 5th starter at OL with some quality depth. We've also heard some good things about the freshman already on campus. Couple this with a good start to the class of 2017 recruiting and things are looking much better for Clemson along the OL than they were 2-3 years ago.