Tomorrow Clemson wraps up spring practice with their annual spring game in Death Valley. It is a chance for the players to perform in front of friends, family, and fans as well as being the last instructional period for players and coaches until fall camp. Going into spring practice we had questions both sides of the ball and from our latest update we've gotten a bit of insight. The spring game is free to everyone and kicks off at 2:30pm EST. If you can't attend you can watch on ESPN3.
1. What does our depth on offense look like?
The starters on offense don't have too many questions. Yes, we are replacing some members of the OL, but the new starters appear to be serviceable, and with Deshaun Watson at QB we should be ok. At wide receiver we are replacing Charone Peake with Mike Williams, I think that will work out well. But it is the depth that will be interesting to see. How do Tucker Israel and Kelly Bryant look with some more time to work on their mechanics and study the playbook. Can we finally see Tyshon Dye emerge as a solid back up to Wayne Gallman? Also what type of rotation will we see with the receivers. Deon Cain won't participate because of his screw ups off the field, but Ray Ray has looked better and there will be some extra snaps to go around this fall. Depth will be where we can have an elite offense in 2016 and Saturday is the first step towards seeing it.
Linebackers will be a bit interesting to see this year. B.J. Goodson's departure leaves an open starter spot, and rumors from practice indicate that Kendall Joseph is the frontrunner. He is finally healthy after his knee injury and could be key for this inexperienced defense. Dorian O'Daniel is another option, though he is more likely to spend time at nickel back than beat out Joseph. We also have 2 talented freshman in Tre Lamar and Rahshaun Smith, both of whom could be wild cards at LB and help us out a lot. But if both O'Daniel and Joseph can grasp the mental part of the linebacker position Clemson could have a better defense than we might expect.
3. Can we find some defensive backs?
Defensive back is probably the weakest position at Clemson this year. When you lose 3 starters that played the vast majority of the snaps it isn't going to end well. Add in our questionable recruiting at both positions and it makes things even worse. Outside of Tankersly there isn't much experience at CB and depth is even worse after Adrian Baker tore his ACL. That leaves us with 4 realistic CBs. At Safety things could be better because of the presence of Jadar Johnson and Korrin Wiggins. Both players have some experience, it is just a matter of getting healthy and making the transition to starter. We'll also have to see what the staff decides to do at NB. The original thought was that Wiggins would see time there this year, but injuries may force Clemson down a different road.
4. What could our defensive line look like?
Finally take a look at the defensive line. Once again we've had a bit of turnover, but there is definitely some talent. With Lawson and Dodd gone the DE positions are the biggest question mark.. Bryant, Yeargin, and Register all have the ability, but the coaches are concerned enough that they've been trying Christian Wilkins out at DE and he's been doing well. The one thing this group will need to do is generate a pass rush. That will be the key if they are to replicate the effectiveness of last year's starters.
At DT things look much better. Scott Pagano and Carlos Watkins are back with Albert Huggins a talented guy too. We forgot about him during 2015, but I think he'll contribute, especially if Wilkins spends a lot of time at DE this year. The big name everyone is talking about is Dexter Lawrence. The early enrollee has been stellar in practice and could see significant playing time this fall. Saturday we can see just how good he is already.