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2017 Clemson Football Participation: Defensive Tackle

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NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Alabama vs Clemson Greg M. Cooper-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 gainedexperienced and how much experience Clemson will really be losing.

We’ve reached the end of this series and it is time to take a look at the defensive tackle position. Traditionally this is where we see more backups get playing time than any other position on defense, and really the team except for receiver. Clemson has always rotated fairly well at defensive tackle and it is unusual to see starters playing more than right around 60% of the snaps for the team. That held true this year, but it wasn’t always for good reasons.

DT 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
Daniel Funderburk DT RS Freshman 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
Albert Huggins DT Junior 13 2 19 14 18 18 7 15 0 40 29 15 16 206
Sterling Johnson DT RS Sophomore 18 0 8 7 8 7 0 0 0 0 26 4 5 83
Dexter Lawrence DT Sophomore 23 48 31 31 40 30 66 14 46 0 0 29 29 387
Issac Moorhouse DT RS Sophomore 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 3
Nyles Pinckney DT RS Freshman 13 6 11 13 11 13 1 28 10 19 25 9 12 171
Jabril Robinson DT RS Junior 0 21 30 14 21 21 18 28 11 0 16 8 18 206
Christian Wilkins DT Junior 21 62 44 45 47 45 79 35 76 53 26 38 31 602

As you can see here Christian Wilkins did the bulk of the work by playing over 600 snaps. That is a lot for a defensive tackle! Last year Carlos Watkins had a similar number, but in 2013, 2014, and 2015 the defensive tackles did break 550 snaps and there was plenty of substituting.

Now the reason for that is likely because of everyone’s favorite Power Ranger, Dexter Lawrence. Dexter has admitted he was never fully healthy in 2017 and his snap count shows it. The staff was looking to manage his workload all season and he rarely approached 50 snaps a game and didn’t play against Florida State or the Citadel.

This gave some opportunities to the backups with Jabril Robinson and Albert Huggins seeing most of the snaps. Nyles Pinckney also got some opportunities and with everyone but Robinson and Johnson returning things are looking up for 2018. Those aren’t huge losses and should be easily mitigated in 2018. The incoming freshman should also help provide some depth and allow Wilkins and Lawrence to rest a bit during the season. That should help keep them healthy and fresh in 2018.