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Snap Count Review - Clemson vs. NC State

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Injuries mount as Clemson suffers its second loss of the season.

Syndication: The Greenville News Ken Ruinard / staff via Imagn Content Services, LLC

At one point during the bleak second half when hope was fading and I could see visions of Wolfpack fans celebrating jubilantly after their hypothetical victory, I remarked, “I wouldn’t mind losing to NC State if it meant we got to see some actual change in this offense.” I now regret saying this and am subjecting myself to penance by reading all Wolfpack articles published over on their SB Nation blog this week.

For what it’s worth, the Pack gave Clemson a thrilling game and claiming the victory in double-OT is about as epic of a home upset as you can wish for as a fan. That doesn’t change the fact that this is now the second loss in September for Clemson, effectively erasing the Tigers from the playoff conversation. The offense looks unrecognizable compared to the high-scoring teams to which we’ve become accustomed, the defense is losing starters due to the attrition and heavy workload, and Clemson is now ranked outside the AP top ten for the first time in 97 weeks.

Let’s look at the snap count for this showdown in Raleigh and see if any sense can be obtained from it. 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 51 240
Will Taylor QB/WR 6 14
Taisun Phommachanh QB 1 16
Will Shipley* RB 40 121
Kobe Pace RB 9 73
Justyn Ross* WR 46 178
Joseph Ngata* WR 42 173
E.J. Williams WR 28 110
Frank Ladson Jr.* WR 17 133
Ajou Ajou WR 8 58
Beaux Collins WR 2 26
Davis Allen* TE 28 119
Braden Galloway TE 20 128
Walker Parks* OL 53 241
Will Putnam* OL 53 241
Jordan McFadden* OL 53 239
Matt Bockhorst* OL 53 238
Paul Tchio* OL 42 94
Hunter Rayburn OL 11 32

Clemson only ran 53 offensive plays all night, while NC State had nearly 42 minutes of possession during regulation time. Aside from one snap where he had to step off the field because his helmet came off, and one snap with Taylor in the wildcat, DJ manned the offense for the entire game. The sophomore has struggled so far and has yet to really make things click, but there is very little chance we see another QB start for this team anytime soon. DJ is by all appearances the best guy in the QB room right now, for better or worse.

Shipley earned his first start of the season and performed admirably up until he exited the game with what appeared to be a very nasty injury. Fortunately, he is expected to return within a few weeks. For now (and perhaps even with Shipley), the RB depth is awfully thin. The next backs up (Pace, Rencher, Dukes, and Mafah) only have 26 total carries (100 snaps) between them through four games, with 20 of those coming from Pace.

Ross and Ngata continue to lead receivers in both total snaps and yards, and beyond them, we have seen very little production from the rest of the group. There have been criticisms of an “archaic” Clemson offense; the receivers do not seem able to create separation consistently enough, nor are they running creative routes or blocking effectively.

Davis Allen got his first start of the season over senior Braden Galloway, although they split snaps fairly evenly.

The offensive line once again saw very little rotation aside from Paul Tchio swapping out with Hunter Rayburn for a handful of snaps. Marcus Tate did not play after starting the previous three games.

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 61 160
Xavier Thomas* DE 56 153
KJ Henry DE 40 98
Justin Foster DE 39 77
Justin Mascoll* DE 10 67
Ruke Orhorhoro* DT 73 170
Tre Williams DT 54 112
Bryan Bresee* DT 43 154
Etinosa Reuben DT 17 32
Payton Page DT 10 24
Baylon Spector* LB 96 171
Trenton Simpson* LB 59 163
LaVonta Bentley LB 58 130
Barrett Carter LB 20 37
Kane Patterson LB 20 36
James Skalski* LB 19 183
Jake Venables LB 2 6
Keith Maguire LB 1 35
Andrew Booth Jr.* CB 99 238
Sheridan Jones CB 55 106
Mario Goodrich* CB 38 179
Nolan Turner* S 76 144
Andrew Mukuba* S 70 208
RJ Mickens S 31 74
Tyler Venables S 24 60
Jalyn Phillips S 13 77
Joseph Charleston S 11 66

Xavier Thomas played his best game of the season, tallying two sacks to go along with his consistent pressure off of the line through 56 snaps. Losing Bresee for the season means Clemson is now without both of their starting defensive tackles, opening the door even further for Ruke Orhorhoro and Tre Williams to gain even more playing time.

A week after not playing at all, Baylon Spector logged a staggering 96 snaps and racked up a career-high 19 tackles. Skalski suffered a shoulder injury and departed after 19 snaps, but evidently will return soon. Bentley also recorded a season-high 58 snaps.

Spector wasn’t the only Tiger to log an absurd number of snaps, as Booth managed to see the field for all 99 defensive plays of the game. Jones, Turner, and Mukuba all saw season-high tallies for their snap counts.

They played well once again, but when the defense is on the field for nearly three entire quarters, fatigue and attrition start to set in. One can only hope there are no more injuries to this group in the coming games, although, with the amount of playing time these guys are seeing, that may be a foolish wish.

Times are tough in Tiger Town, but there is still hope for this team and the remaining season. Call me an optimist but when victories over South Carolina, FSU, and a potential trip to the ACC championship game are still on the menu, I see plenty left to salvage from this rocky start to the 2021 campaign.

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