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Snap Count Review - Clemson vs. Syracuse

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I see orange people!

Syndication: The Greenville News Ken Ruinard / USA TODAY Network / USA TODAY NETWORK

Clemson managed to put all the Friday of October in Syracuse voodoo behind them and scrape out another victory, similar to how your dad scrapes off the remaining crumbs from your plate and insists it’s “just as good as any other bite of food.” What I mean to say is this was about as ugly a win as it gets, but a win is a win is a win.

All snap counts come from the official Clemson report found here; numbers do not necessarily denote official plays, but rather non-special-team snaps.

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
DJ Uiagalelei* QB 77 385
Taisun Phommachanh QB 1 17
Kobe Pace* RB 46 166
Phil Mafah RB 29 51
Joseph Ngata* WR 66 294
Justyn Ross* WR 63 270
Ajou Ajou* WR 62 135
Beaux Collins WR 15 98
Dacari Collins WR 7 19
Davis Allen* TE 47 181
Sage Ennis TE 32 83
Jordan McFadden* OL 77 384
Mason Trotter* OL 77 77
Walker Parks* OL 67 374
Matt Bockhorst* OL 65 371
Will Putnam* OL 51 292
Marcus Tate OL 39 270
Mitchell Mayes OL 10 45

A week after pre-season Heisman favorite Spencer Rattler was benched in favor of freshman Caleb Williams, fellow Heisman favorite DJ Uiagalalei soldiered on as the starting quarterback. While Clemson admittedly doesn’t have a backup of Williams’ quality waiting behind Uiagalelei, “Big Cinco” has shown signs of improvement from week to week and, according to Elliott, is without a doubt the man for the job:

DJ has done what we’ve asked him to do. He’s played better each week. So I think he’s improving. And we wanted to get - you saw in the first drive we wanted to get Taisun in there. We want to have a little bit of a package for [Taisun]. But then as the game goes on, you just get into that dog fight. And so DJ is doing well - he’s playing well, we don’t want to disrupt what he has going on. But obviously, for us, Taisun is a guy that we believe can help us in certain situations, and his role will expand as we go forward.

Ngata, Ross, and Ajou (first start) all cleared 60 snaps as the starting wideouts, but outside of Ngata’s 2nd-quarter TD grab, there was once again very little production from this position group. This was a great catch, but it was also the only catch from Ngata:

Clemson desperately needs someone to step up and play like a member of “WRU.” It’s not just the dropped passes (Ross returned to keep playing after this) or the lack of separation on most routes. Perimeter blocking has seriously declined to the point of screen passes becoming a liability in most cases (although the second example is really the OL’s fault).

Gone are the days of Charone Peake bulldozing a hapless defensive back into the ground to allow Watson free passage on his scamper downfield. Whether by a decline in physicality, a lack of desire to hit hard, poor coaching from the staff, or some combination of these issues, Clemson’s wide receivers simply do not block nearly as well as they should. This is especially inexcusable given their larger frames - 7/8 of them (not counting the Swinney boys) are at least 6’3” (Troy Stellato is “only” 6-foot-1).

Pace (46 snaps) and Mafah (29 snaps) are running hard and stepping up to the plate for the most part. With Shipley hopefully returning from injury soon, this group should keep improving as the year progresses. Michel Dukes only has 2 carries this season and all 15 of his snaps so far came against SC State.

Davis Allen hauled in a career-high 8 catches on his way to 49 receiving yards, while Ennis racked up 32 more snaps with Galloway still out. It was encouraging to see the tight ends being used more than before, although the highlight catch of Allen’s night wasn’t even thrown by DJ:

Mason Trotter made his season debut with a splash by starting at center in place of Hunter Rayburn (COVID protocol), allowing Bockhorst to remain at guard for the time being. Tate (39 snaps) and Mayes (10 snaps) provided some relief play for a starting lineup that was different for the fourth week in a row.

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 45 253
Xavier Thomas* DE 44 241
Justin Mascoll DE 22 106
KJ Henry DE 20 147
Kevin Swint DE 8 32
Ruke Orhorhoro* DT 37 253
Tre Williams DT 31 177
Etinosa Reuben DT 19 74
Payton Page DT 3 33
James Skalski* LB 69 329
Baylon Spector* LB 65 308
Trenton Simpson* LB 45 274
Barrett Carter LB 10 62
LaVonta Bentley LB 4 138
Mario Goodrich* CB 50 229
Sheridan Jones* CB 42 225
Nate Wiggins CB 40 65
Malcolm Greene CB 11 81
Nolan Turner* S 62 282
Andrew Mukuba* S 45 303
Tyler Venables* S 34 140
Jalyn Phillips S 26 103
RJ Mickens S 22 123

Once again this defense shouldered the responsibility of keeping Clemson competitive as 8/11 actual drives by the Tigers’ offense ended in punts, averaging about 6.6 plays per drive (each drive lasted an average of 2 minutes and 56 seconds).

Murphy (45 snaps) and Thomas (44 snaps) continue to lead the defensive ends each week, while Ruke Orhorhoro and Tre Williams have filled in admirably for the injured Bresee and Davis. Justin Foster only saw special-teams action in this matchup, giving former linebacker Kevin Swint 8 snaps at defensive end.

The consistency of Skalski (69 snaps), Spector (65 snaps), and Simpson (45 snaps) has helped keep opposing offenses mostly in check, even without the starting war daddies up front. Clemson is surrendering 12.5 points per game, good for second in the nation (only behind UGA).

Starting cornerback Andrew Booth was held out with a hamstring injury, meaning Nate Wiggins received 40 snaps in just his second game of the season. Tyler Venables is currently third amongst safeties with 140 total snaps, and he flashed some big-play potential with a sack and a crucial red-zone interception.

Next up is perhaps the biggest challenge left for this Clemson team that has yet to score 20 points in regulation on FBS competition - a Pitt team averaging 553.5 YPG and nearly 49 PPG. Be sure to stick around STS for more Clemson coverage, and don’t let your dad eat that crust next time, it can’t be tasty.