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Snap Count Review: Clemson vs. Syracuse

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Clemson
Mike Jones Jr. celebrates a touchdown against Syracuse.
Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Another Syracuse game, another uncomfortable win. While Clemson ended up pulling away toward the end of this week’s matchup with the Orange, the game was not quite what we had hoped to see from the Tigers after dismantling GT last week. Of course, a 26-point win over a conference opponent should never be taken for granted, and that is not to be overlooked. Still, Clemson will look to take this as its annual “sleepwalking” game that always seems to plague the team.

Clemson Offensive Snaps

Player Name (* indicates start) Position Game Snap Count Season Snap Count
Player Name (* indicates start) Position Game Snap Count Season Snap Count
Trevor Lawrence* QB 77 365
DJ Uiagalelei QB 8 52
Travis Etienne* RB 40 227
Lyn-J Dixon RB 25 82
Kobe Pace RB 9 44
Chez Mellusi RB 8 45
Darien Rencher RB 4 46
Amari Rodgers* WR 53 264
Frank Ladson Jr.* WR 51 247
Cornell Powell WR 43 243
Joseph Ngata WR 31 93
EJ Williams WR 23 137
Brannon Spector WR 23 78
Will Swinney WR 6 97
Will Brown WR 6 59
Ajou Ajou WR 3 86
Braden Galloway* TE 60 223
Davis Allen TE 30 151
JC Chalk TE 11 91
Jaelyn Lay TE 1 60
Jordan McFadden* OL 86 388
Cade Stewart* OL 84 393
Matt Bockhorst* OL 82 389
Will Putnam* OL 78 374
Jackson Carman* OL 76 367
Mason Trotter OL 15 58
Walker Parks OL 9 118

The biggest takeaway from this week’s offensive snap counts is the return of Joseph Ngata. Ngata did not make much of an immediate impact in terms of production, but it was good to see him out on the field for more than a single series as he tallied a season-high 31 snaps. Overall substitutions for this game were lower than Clemson would have liked, as the game was still a one-score affair well into the third quarter. Unfortunately, that meant very little rotation for the offensive line outside of the starting five.

Run blocking appears to remain a struggle for this offensive line and will likely be what holds this team back in a playoff scenario if things don’t improve quickly. After Syracuse gave up 338 rushing yards to Liberty last week, Clemson seemed incapable at times of establishing the run, managing only 147 yards on the ground. Depth is very limited here at this point in the season - please no injuries!

Travis Etienne exited for a time during the middle of the game due to some cramping (he blamed his breakfast of Frosted Flakes), but ultimately had a decent game, racking up three touchdowns and 86 rushing yards. That brings his rushing career yardage to 4,560, a mere 42 yards shy of the all-time record of 4,602 yards held by N.C. State’s Ted Brown. Etienne continues to be an integral part of this offense – his contributions are bigger than just yards.

Clemson Defensive Snaps

Player Name (* indicates start) Position Game Snap Count Season Snap Count
Player Name (* indicates start) Position Game Snap Count Season Snap Count
Justin Mascoll* DE 32 186
Myles Murphy* DE 29 176
KJ Henry DE 28 191
Xavier Thomas DE 25 48
Greg Williams DE 2 50
Bryan Bresee* DT 35 191
Nyles Pinckney DT 19 138
Darnell Jefferies DT 4 45
Etionsa Reuben DT 2 26
Jake Venables* LB 50 127
Mike Jones Jr.* LB 48 254
Baylon Spector* LB 47 232
Trenton Simpson LB 10 66
Kane Patterson LB 8 53
LaVonta Bentley LB 6 47
Keith Maguire LB 5 66
Andrew Booth* CB 38 172
Sheridan Jones* CB 36 195
Fred Davis II CB 23 126
Malcom Greene CB 7 58
Nolan Turner* S 48 240
Joseph Charleston* S 46 160
Lannden Zanders* S 42 208
Tyler Venables S 16 99
Jalyn Phillips S 12 107
Ray Thornton III S 10 84

The defense played well overall, as only one touchdown can really be blamed on a singular bust in the secondary (I wouldn’t hold the touchdown off the blocked punt against them). Still, the holes left by starting defensive tackle Tyler Davis, linebacker James Skalski, and cornerback Derion Kendrick were noticeable. Davis is the anchor of the defensive line, and the double-teams he draws frees up the edge rushers to do more damage. Nyles Pinckney is simply not capable of matching Davis’ level of play, and Bresee is still young, though impactful.

After having missed most of the season until last week, Xavier Thomas reached a season-high snap count of 25, adding three tackles and a sack. Defensive end Regan Upshaw, who had taken most of his snaps as Thomas’ replacement, did not receive any playing time this week, nor did defensive tackle Jordan Williams. Defensive end Justin Foster still has yet to be seen.

It is also worth noting that both Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy are starting at their respective positions as true freshman, an incredible feat. Both have been phenomenal through six games and are the future in their positions. Booth is coming into his own as a starting corner, and Jones, Jr. continues to impress. The talent in this defense is undeniable, and they are only going to get better, assuming injuries don’t linger.