We haven’t had a recap of the Spring Game here yet so I thought I’d kick off the discussion with a few thoughts. You can also check out the video I did with MarkRogersTV above. Please join us in the comments to share your thoughts.
Obviously the big news is the torn Achilles tendon suffered by second-string QB Taisun Phommachanh. It was a weird roller coaster of a game for those hoping to see something encouraging from the back-up QB. He struggled for three quarters, making it seem like Clemson didn’t have much in terms of depth at QB. Then he put together two great drives and suddenly made viewers optimistic, but right before the White team punched the eventual go-ahead TD, he went down with an injury. There wasn’t a big hit so it didn’t “look” too serious at first, but by the way he limped off, you quickly realized it was quite serious. It was announced pretty quickly that it was a torn Achilles.
Clemson is no doubt thin at QB, but I’m less concerned than some. Yes, Uiagalelei needs to stay healthy for Clemson to win a National Championship, but even Alabama lost the Iron Bowl and had a down year when QB Tua Tagovailoa got injured a few years ago. As long as Uiagalelei is healthy for the Georgia and Pittsburgh games (and maybe Louisville too), Clemson should be heavily favored all season. Hunter Helms and the incoming youngsters should provide sufficient depth in spot situations as needed. A major injury to a team’s star QB is going to mess up the season for any team (except 2014 Ohio State).
WR Ajou Ajou came in as a very raw prospect and didn’t make much of an impact last season. He flashed his upside against Georgia Tech, but otherwise still had a lot of refining to do. Although ACCN commentator Eric Mac Lain noted on the Gramlich and Mac Lain Podcast that Ajou he still made some route running mistakes, the young WR nevertheless looked great. He led all players in receiving yards and was open but missed on a few occasions too. He’s still likely to be behind Justyn Ross, Joseph Ngata, EJ Williams, and Frank Ladson on the depth chart, but he - along with Beaux and Dacari Collins - give Clemson a lot of depth in the receivers room. I’m very optimistic about the potential for improved WR play.
It’s tough to judge the offensive and defensive lines, but the players I focused in on seemed to look good. Marcus Tate seems like he could make an early impact. Jordan McFadden has moved to left tackle and is the star of the offensive line. He was the Tigers best lineman a year ago. I expect Walker Parks to excel in the starting right tackle spot after a good freshman season as the backup. Between Tate, Putnam, Rayburn, Trotter, and Bockhorst the Tigers should be in good position to improve on the interior O-line.
Clemson is thin at cornerback, but I think Andrew Booth is ready to be a stud #1 CB. Freshman Nate Wiggins nearly had an interception. He seems ready enough to be a depth guy if the Tigers ever need to go to the 6th CB on the depth chart. Like at QB, I think they’d be fine if one or even two of them missed a game or two as long as it isn’t Georgia, at Pittsburgh, or maybe at Louisville.
Among the running backs, Kobe Pace and Phil Mafah flashed. Clemson has good depth there. I discuss that in a little more depth in the video above so check that out and then join the discussion in the comment section below.