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Snap Count Review: Clemson vs. Pittsburgh

Eat picks, Pitt

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at Clemson
Kane Patterson returns a fumble against Pittsburgh.
Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

After what felt like an eternity following the bye week and the FSU cancellation, Clemson finally got back to playing on Saturday against everyone’s favorite opponent to hate: Pitt. The military appreciation/Senior Day featured the return of several Clemson stars, and the game gave fans a chance to enjoy the highest scoring first quarter in Clemson football history.

The game was never in doubt, and plenty of Clemson backups saw action on Saturday. When Will Swinney is getting targets in the second first quarter, you know it’s a bad day for your team facing Clemson. Let’s take a look at how those backups got involved:

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 72 437
DJ Uiagalelei QB 19 231
Hunter Helms QB 5 22
Travis Etienne* RB 40 406
Lyn-J Dixon RB 21 110
Chez Mellusi RB 13 64
Darien Rencher RB 9 55
Kobe Pace RB 6 50
Michel Dukes RB 3 19
Cornell Powell* WR 68 457
Amari Rodgers* WR 58 468
EJ Williams WR 54 260
Brannon Spector WR 23 144
Will Swinney WR 22 119
Ajou Ajou WR 19 105
Will Brown WR 16 75
Braden Galloway* TE 33 356
Davis Allen TE 29 263
JC Chalk TE 18 109
Jaelyn Lay TE 11 71
Sage Ennis TE 8 27
Cade Stewart* OL 81 634
Jackson Carman* OL 78 605
Will Putnam* OL 76 610
Matt Bockhorst* OL 65 567
Jordan McFadden OL 64 598
Walker Parks OL 35 167
Mason Trotter OL 23 127
Paul Tchio OL 8 78
Mitchell Mayes OL 8 59
Hunter Rayburn OL 8 55
Tayquon Johnson OL 6 86
Kaleb Boateng OL 5 5
Bryn Tucker OL 4 11
Trent Howard OL 3 21

Trevor Lawrence played magnificently in his first action back in over a month, to no one’s surprise. His 403 yard performance gave Clemson back-to-back 400 yard passers for the first time in school history. Trevor’s season completion rate is currently sitting at 70.6%, compared to last year’s 65.8%. There is still quite a bit of football left to be played, but his performance thus far is everything you could want from the third-year veteran.

Offensive line depth! You love to see the backups getting involved, including Kaleb Boateng making his season debut with 5 snaps. 14 different scholarship offensive linemen saw the field, although half of those didn’t clear 10 snaps.

At this point in the season, what you see with the OL is largely what you’re going to get. It is pretty well established that this OL unit has struggled with run-blocking, and against an admittedly solid Pitt front, Clemson posted its worst run-blocking grade of the season according to PFF (58.9). The pass blocking continues to hold up relatively well, but it remains to be seen how much this OL group will be able to compete against playoff competition.

Miscellaneous notes:

  • Cornell Powell joins Nuk and Sammy as only the third Clemson receiver to post back-to-back 150 yard games - not bad company. His one-handed catch was a jaw-drop moment and one of the best highlights from the game.
  • Amari Rodgers currently leads Power Five receivers in yards after contact. Both he and Powell are the clear top receivers right now for Clemson (although Travis Etienne is third in receiving yards after Powell). He also had this amazing catch sadly get called back on an unrelated penalty.
  • Speaking of ETN, the speedy senior has only broken 100 yards rushing twice all season, a somewhat disappointing rushing campaign to this point. Much of that can be blamed on the OL’s poor run-blocking, but his contributions in the receiving game have made up for that deficit.
  • EJ Williams is going to be so fun to watch next year - he currently has the third-most snaps among receivers. Several great catches Saturday from the freshman.
  • Ladson and Ngata have quite honestly been disappointing to this point in their careers. Fingers crossed that they are both able to shake off the injuries next season and step up as primary targets.

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
Myles Murphy DE 32 314
KJ Henry DE 23 297
Justin Mascoll DE 23 284
Xavier Thomas* DE 22 94
Regan Upshaw DE 14 141
Greg Williams DE 6 56
Tyler Davis* DT 33 92
Bryan Bresee* DT 32 336
Nyles Pinckney DT 7 192
Jordan Williams DT 7 177
Etinosa Reuben DT 5 35
DeMonte Capehart DT 4 16
Darnell Jefferies DT 1 46
James Skalski* LB 45 213
Trenton Simpson* LB 39 199
Mike Jones Jr. LB 30 284
Baylon Spector* LB 23 400
Kane Patterson LB 18 72
Keith Maguire LB 7 76
LaVonta Bentley LB 5 48
Andrew Booth CB 43 280
Mario Goodrich* CB 40 118
Malcolm Greene* CB 35 93
Fred Davis II CB 31 159
LeAnthony Williams CB 27 90
Nolan Turner* S 57 428
Joseph Charleston* S 56 337
Tyler Venables S 38 183
Ray Thornton III* S 29 120
RJ Mickens S 10 31

Four interceptions, six sacks, and sixteen rushing yards allowed. This was a dominant return to form for the Clemson defense.

Welcome back Tyler Davis, we missed you. The anchor of the defensive line was an immediate boost to the interior line, bolstered with the returns of James Skalski and Mike Jones Jr. It was great to see all three of them back out there making plays and holding their positions down.

Malcolm Greene had a breakout performance, starting in the absence of Derion Kendrick and Sheridan Jones. The true freshman logged 35 snaps in his first start, and earned PFF’s national true freshman of the week award, grabbing his first career interception along the way.

  • Mario Goodrich also had a fantastic game, hauling in two interceptions with his season-high 40 snaps.
  • Andrew Booth with yet another incredible athletic play - it is so satisfying watching this guy ball out. Star in the making.
  • LaVonta Bentley piled up a sack, a forced fumble, and two total stops on just five snaps.
  • Xavier Thomas earning his first start of the season! No idea what his plans are after this season but it’s great seeing him steadily getting back to full strength. Have to imagine he’s hungry for playing time at only 94 snaps on the season, fifth among defensive ends.
  • Trenton Simpson continuing to perform well as a true freshman, starting the game at the weakside DE position.
  • Kendrick was ready to play but “the love shack” kept him out.
  • Joseph Charleston played well in Lannden Zanders’ place. The touchdown pass completed against his coverage wasn’t even a bad play by Charleston - he broke up the pass but the Pitt receiver simply made an acrobatic catch.

The defense punched Pitt in the mouth early, dominated the run, and refused to ever let the game get out of their hands. Hard not to like what we’re seeing now from a mostly healthy group. Kenny Pickett is not a bad QB but the starting secondary largely had its way with him. I am stoked to see how they continue to improve and perform over these last few games of a wacky 2020 season.

Finally, what a senior class this has been. It is just about impossible to put into words how special they have been, so instead I will simply encourage you to enjoy the rest of the season watching these players while we can. Clemson fans are lucky to have gotten to see these guys put on Tiger uniforms!