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2017 Clemson Football Participation: Cornerbacks

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NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Clemson vs Miami Jeremy Brevard-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.

Defensive backs had a bit of an adventure in 2017. Injuries and interesting play led to a wild ride. Corner backs in particular had to deal with nagging injuries, Marcus Edmond was out for most of the season, and all of us spent plenty of time complaining about the NC State game. But looking at the numbers things were pretty stable.

One thing to note, positions here are done based on how Clemson lists a player. Some guys, especially at DB, could line up at safety or at corner back. But Clemson is usually pretty good about listing where someone is playing the majority of snaps and we’ve made the decision to go with those positions. Below is the snap chart.

CB 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
Ryan Carter CB RS Senior 15 61 36 45 63 31 84 57 78 35 29 56 39 629
Marcus Edmond CB RS Senior 13 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 17 0 15 46
Mark Fields CB Junior 10 41 27 0 71 40 57 0 0 0 0 0 0 246
Trayvon Mullen CB Sophomore 22 58 40 46 0 28 85 57 83 58 30 56 37 600
A.J. Terrell CB Freshman 21 11 28 25 5 28 15 0 14 25 34 0 24 230
Amir Trapp CB RS Sophomore 17 0 7 3 0 10 0 0 2 0 18 0 0 57

So the obvious note here, Ryan Carter and Trayvon Mullen were the starters from snaps. Both had 600 plus snaps and while maybe not being relied on like Mac Alexander or Cordrea Tankersley, both were critical to Clemson’s success at CB.

But the big difference this year was the backups. Both Mark Fields and A.J. Terrell had over 200 snaps, something that is rather unusual for Clemson CBs. Some of that does have to do with personnel when Clemson has a nickel back, but both CBs still got some quality reps at CB.

Finally I wanted to talk about the NC State game. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about Amir Trapp, substitutions, and the 2-deep. But looking at the snap numbers a few things stand out. The first is that I’m not sure why Trapp was even out there. Carter, Mullen, and Terrell all had snaps in the game yet Trapp got the first two snaps of the game, and ultimately they were his only two snaps of the game.

Looking at Trapp’s play during the season, he essentially only played scrub snaps. The NC State game was the lone exception. So I’m not sure why the staff put him in, but it wasn’t because of an injury and it wasn’t because he had been playing better in games and deserved a shot. The whole situation is odd, maybe there was some sort of punishment for another CB or something similar, not sure. But Trapp playing didn’t really fit any pattern.

For 2018 Clemson’s obviously going to have to replace Carter, but there is also going to be a lot of opportunity for someone to step up in the nickel position as well as becoming a second starter at CB. But more importantly Clemson will need guys coming off a redshirt or true freshman to make an impact in the two deep. If someone doesn’t step up the Clemson CBs will be painfully thin, especially if an injury hits.