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2017 Clemson Football Participation: Offensive Line

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NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama 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.

We’ve spent a lot of time bemoaning what we feel is some poor OL recruiting. This isn’t an article where I’ll be on my soapbox about it, but I did want to take a moment to explain why that recruiting is important. Normally when you look at the OL snap counts you see an OL where 5 players have played nearly 800 or so snaps, barring injury of course. Backups really only come in when your team is blowing someone out. There isn’t a huge amount of subbing for rest and it isn’t unusual to see an OL play an entire game without subs.

This can lead to wondering why you want to build a quality 2 and ideally 3 deep at OL. And it is because of situations like what Clemson has seen the last two years, a lack of 5 OL good enough to start and play through every game. The 2015 season saw Clemson’s OL play in over 80% of snaps. In 2016 it was 70% and last year 68%. Those numbers are indicative of either injuries or not having guys the coaching staff is comfortable with. The flip side? More guys are getting quality experience that will hopefully allow them to put together excellent 2018 seasons, or at least take another step in their development.

OL Snap Counts

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
Tremayne Anchrum OL Sophomore 35 53 52 52 29 42 34 35 50 45 35 43 35 540
Kelby Bevelle OL RS Senior 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 17 4 0 51
Gage Cervenka OL RS Sophomore 16 0 7 4 2 9 0 5 0 3 32 7 16 101
Tyrone Crowder OL RS Senior 37 49 54 54 38 57 40 43 45 48 13 29 30 537
Justin Falcinelli OL RS Junior 41 69 71 81 63 80 59 75 83 82 21 77 60 862
Zach Giella OL RS Sophomore 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 25 1 6 34
Pat Godfrey OL RS Senior 21 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 18 1 6 48
Taylor Hearn OL RS Junior 37 69 73 66 53 71 47 57 60 50 21 61 42 707
Mitch Hyatt OL Junior 37 69 66 66 63 71 59 65 80 68 0 68 60 772
Maverick Morris OL RS Senior 22 21 27 28 24 35 19 35 38 36 24 51 41 401
Sean Pollard OL Sophomore 33 15 26 28 37 50 25 45 33 60 39 53 33 477
Chandler Reeves OL RS Freshman 21 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 25 3 0 53
John Simpson OL Sophomore 26 0 18 33 10 32 12 20 23 30 40 22 34 300
Cade Stewart OL RS Freshman 36 0 5 4 2 3 0 5 0 0 32 4 7 98

So from the table the main starters this year were Taylor Hearn, Mitch Hyatt, and Justin Falcinelli. Those three got over 700 snaps and were clear starters. After that things get a little murkier. Tyrone Crowder and Tremayne Anchrum would be our next two starters, but they only got near 550 snaps. That is only 41 snaps a game, 12-20 snaps lower than the first 3 OL we mentioned. That difference is more than just subbing in blowouts, there was some real competition here.

And that competition came from Maverick Morris, Sean Pollard, and John Simpson to some degree. The first two had 400 plus snaps while Simpson got 300. If Anchrum and Crowder truly separated themselves we would have seen a severe reduction in snaps from these 3 players, likely a drop of 100+ snaps for each of them.

Traditionally we see most OL backups maxing out in the 300 snap range. But in 2016 and 2017 Clemson has seen starters play fewer snaps, even when accounting for injuries. In 2018 this is something we’ll keep an eye on. Clemson is going to have to replace Tyrone Crowder and Taylor Hearn’s snaps along with Maverick Morris. That’s 2.5 guys worth of production, though ideally one of the returning OL will be able to step up into a true full time starters role. Obviously we hope Jackson Carman will see the field immediately like Mitch Hyatt, but if he’s not ready things could be interesting.