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2017 Clemson Football Participation: Safety

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NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: Games started and games played are not always the best metrics to define experience. Sometimes players get 5 snaps in a game while others get 40. Because of this we review the snap counts of each player at the end of the season to see who has really gained experienced and how much experience Clemson will really be losing.

Much like the cornerback position, Clemson has a depth problem at safety heading into 2018. The good news at safety though is that Clemson actually has several players with experience coming back, and significant experience at that. Even though we didn’t see a true benching in 2017, the staff was concerned enough with some safety play that they were rotating much more than usual at safety.

Safety Snap Count

Player Position Year Kent State Auburn Louisville Boston College Virginia Tech Wake Forest Syracuse Georgia Tech NC State Florida State Citadel South Carolina Miami Total
Player Position Year Kent State Auburn Louisville Boston College Virginia Tech Wake Forest Syracuse Georgia Tech NC State Florida State Citadel South Carolina Miami Total
Kyle Cote S RS Sophomore 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Austin Jackson S RS Sophomore 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Denzel Johnson S RS Sophomore 0 0 7 0 2 0 0 0 0 3 30 0 11 53
Hall Morton S RS Freshman 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tanner Muse S RS Sophomore 28 69 11 62 51 47 74 26 49 1 13 24 12 467
Cameron Scott S RS Junior 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Isaiah Simmons S RS Freshman 21 0 52 14 22 21 24 31 11 6 19 9 23 253
Van Smith S Junior 9 0 46 56 52 47 71 57 72 59 19 41 41 570
Nolan Turner S RS Freshman 9 0 7 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 27 0 0 44
K'Von Wallace S Sophomore 31 70 17 11 25 23 27 0 35 53 20 32 29 373

Obviously losing Van Smith hurts, Anytime you lose a starter like Smith it isn’t going to be easy to replace him, especially in Clemson’s case where depth is a concern. But Smith played a lot less than starters from previous years. The 2017 starters at safety only played in 65% of the snaps in 2017. Past years saw safeties playing closer to 80%.

That bodes well for the future because it means the backups have some real experience. K’Von Wallace and Isaiah Simmons both got over 250 snaps in 2017. That’s real experience and should help the staff assess who will replace Smith and how the staff might use the SAM/NB role this year.

Of course Tanner Muse was the other starter for most of the year, and despite some issues in play recognition and the mental side of the position, he got plenty of snaps and that should continue in 2018, hopefully with an improvement in play.

But much like CB depth is the concern at safety. Right now Clemson has 6 players on scholarship, one of whom was a walk on with a scholarship. So 5 players for 2 positions, and no one appears to be a dominant lock down safety either. The staff is going to have to look at several options in 2018 and don’t be surprised if we see some rotation as the staff tries determine the best guys to put out on the field.