Clemson finishes up spring practice on Saturday with the annual Spring Game. Kickoff will be at 2:30 pm EST on April 8th. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra and can be streamed online through WatchESPN.
As an FYI for those heading to Clemson, Memorial Stadium will be enforcing the new clear bag policy that will be in effect for the 2017 season. For more information on the new policy click here.
For the game itself, we always recommend caution when trying to take away too much. Remember that this isn’t a full game situation. Coaches are in and out of things as they attempt to try different combinations. Different scenarios are run to get players familiar with late game situations, red zone play, etc. Depending on the year it is also possible that first team guys will be playing against or alongside backups.
But where you can get some information is by looking at fundamentals. If a QB isn’t stepping into his throws it won’t matter who the competition is, that’s a problem. If a CB is constantly keeping his head turned to pick the ball that bodes well. In that spirit here are some of our top things to keep an eye on during the game Saturday.
The biggest question everyone has is how the battle for QB1 is shaking out - the sad truth is no one really knows. The coaching staff has praised all of the players at different times during the spring.
It will be interesting on Saturday is to see just where each of these guys stand in terms of development. We’ve heard a lot of rumors about how well Zerrick Cooper did during the fall on the scout team and this will be a great chance to actually see what he has. Kelly Bryant will need to show that he is able to execute the Clemson passing game and not just provide a threat for his legs. For Hunter Johnson it will be interesting to see just how much of the playbook he understands. From some accounts that is really the only thing holding him back right now. Tucker Israel is going to have to show where he is at and if he’s really going to push for the starting position.
Replacing Wayne Gallman
Clemson has a difficult task to replace Wayne Gallman. Adam Choice and CJ Fuller have been dubbed the leaders to win the starting spot, but neither has shown the explosiveness or vision needed from a starting RB. Tavien Feaster has that explosiveness, but he needs to show he has the vision and blocking to become Clemson’s starting RB. The nice thing about this battle is that if these guys can hit holes and get into space against Clemson’s DL, it bodes well for the future. It guarantees nothing, but it is worth noting.
Versatility at LB
One of the things Brent Venables has highlighted in his spring comments has been how versatile the LB group is this year. The departure of Ben Boulware along with a lot of young talent has led to the staff cross training these guys at several LB positions. Even Kendal Joseph and Dorian O’Daniel have been working at multiple positions. While this is always a noble goal at any position, the spring game will give us an opportunity to see how well these lessons took. With possibly the most potential out of any LB group since Venables got here, there is a lot of excitement to see what these guys can do.
There is certainly a lot of unknown parts to Clemson’s secondary this year. But there is also a huge amount of talent. We’ll get to see a lot of that talent on Saturday for the first time. I’m interested in seeing how Tanner Muse does at safety. He has the physical ability, he just needs to get the mental part down. It is also going to be exciting to see youngsters Trayvon Mullen and K’Von Wallace get a run out.
Enjoy the game and the weather. If you are heading down for the game make sure to stay in your seat at halftime as there will be a ring ceremony for the departing seniors. After the game, you can head over to Doug Kingsmore for baseball as the first palce Clemson Tigers take on Virginia Tech at 5:30 pm.