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.
Linebacker is an interesting position under Brent Venables. Because of his schemes only 2 LBs get to see the field on most snaps, we consider the NB to be a defensive back. This can lead to some unusual snap totals. This year B.J. Goodson and Ben Boulware dominated the snap totals despite their limitations.
|Player||Year||Position||Wofford||App State||Louisville||Notre Dame||Georgia Tech||Boston College||Miami||NC State||FSU||Syracuse||Wake||USC||UNC||OU||Total Snaps|
|B.J. Goodson||R Senior||LB||43||53||48||72||52||61||37||68||59||57||47||69||67||73||806|
|Kendall Joseph||R Freshman||LB||14||24||0||0||0||0||20||0||0||0||0||0||0||5||63|
|Dorian O'Daniel||R Sophomore||LB||24||24||10||0||43||14||17||2||0||0||28||0||0||12||174|
No real surprises here. Ben Boulware and B.J. Goodson got the vast majority of snaps in 2015. And frankly in every important game they got all the snaps in most cases. That may be the most surprising part. You would expect starters at most positions to get a lot of the snaps, but the backups would get some time as well. But for Clemson all of that experience by the backups comes from mop up duty in games against teams like Wofford and Wake Forest.
In the 10 games Clemson didn't have backups in for significant snaps, the LBs got a total of 86 snaps outside of Boulware and Goodson and 79 of those came from Dorian O'Daniel. That's not great and a little worrying. The good news is that Kendall Joseph should be in a position to contribute and maybe even start. He's had an excellent spring now that he is healthy and has looked better than O'Daniel. Add in O'Daniel's improvement and we will hopefully have 3 LBs that can play. He will likely be a different LB compared to Goodson, but if he can provide some more benefits in pass coverage than Goodson Clemson may be ok.
The one question that could make or break the LBs this year will be Tre Lamar and Rahshaun Smith and their ability to transition to college football. It is unlikely either player redshirts because of their athletic ability and our makeup of LBs behind O'Daniel and Goodson. Maybe, and this is a big maybe, one or both of them will slide in as backups on the two-deep this fall. It would be shocking if they start because of the mental side of the game for an LB. Venables has a fairly complex scheme, although as C_Craft mentioned in the comments it will potentially be simplified this year, and it can be hard for freshman to understand their responsibilities. But if we see a lot of Smith and Lamar this year that's likely a good thing for both 2016 and the future. It means we have some good depth and won't have to rely on hopes a prayer if an injury occurs.