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Snap Count Review: Clemson vs. Georgia

Freshmen debuts and offensive deficiencies headlined Saturday.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 Duke’s Mayo Classic - Georgia v Clemson Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Clemson football is officially back, and while the Tigers weren’t able to bring home a victory from their familiar stomping grounds in Charlotte, there is plenty to break down and discuss from Saturday’s brawl.

Each week this season I will be organizing and keeping track of the snap counts from every game, with a per-game total as well as a running season tally. Snap counts are a helpful metric for identifying player development and can reveal a lot about how much the staff trusts (or doesn’t) certain players.

All snap counts come from the official Clemson report found here; numbers do not necessarily denote official plays, but rather non-special-team snaps. Let’s get into it!

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 66 66
Kobe Pace* RB 28 28
Will Shipley RB 19 19
Lyn-J Dixon RB 18 18
Frank Ladson Jr.* WR 47 47
Joseph Ngata* WR 45 45
Justyn Ross* WR 44 44
E.J. Williams WR 40 40
Ajou Ajou WR 16 16
Will Taylor QB/WR 1 1
Braden Galloway* TE 35 35
Davis Allen TE 28 28
Matt Bockhorst* OL 67 67
Jordan McFadden* OL 67 67
Walker Parks* OL 67 67
Will Putnam* OL 67 67
Marcus Tate* OL 48 48
Paul Tchio OL 19 19

This will likely be a familiar starting lineup for most of the season. Barring something disastrous, DJU should be the starting QB, while the combination of Ross, Ngata, and Ladson/Ajou Ajou should be the top-performing WR’s this season. E.J. Williams, although primed for a bigger role this season, will have surgery on his finger and will miss the next few weeks as he recovers.

At RB, things are less clear and it should be quite interesting to watch who (if anyone) separates himself over the season as the alpha of the group. The RB’s were only collectively given 9 carries, amassing a paltry 24 yards. Despite this, it’s worth noting that Shipley saw the field early in the first-half absence of Dixon (suspension). Running-game-woes aside, it’s an encouraging indicator of Shipley’s talent that he got as many snaps as he did. Dixon is listed atop the depth chart for the week 2 contest against SC State.

The tight end group appears to be more of the same from last season, with Galloway starting and Davis Allen close behind. Tony Elliott has taken over coaching duties for this position group, and I’m curious to see if this unit can return to contributing at a high level not seen since 2016 with Jordan Leggett.

Lastly, rather than add my voice to the crowd clamoring that the sky is falling in response to the offensive line’s struggles, I’ll simply provide some food for thought. Marcus Tate, a true freshman in his first career game, started at LG. In fact, Will Putnam was the only offensive lineman to start at a position he had played last year. There is no doubt plenty of room for improvement, but the group faced the best defensive line they will play all season (aside from Alabama perhaps) in the season opener with a shuffled lineup. That is bound to lead to some growing pains. On to the next one.

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 35 35
Xavier Thomas* DE 31 31
Justin Foster DE 23 23
Justin Mascoll DE 20 20
KJ Henry DE 19 19
Ruke Orhorhoro* DT 48 48
Bryan Bresee* DT 44 44
Tre Williams DT 28 28
Darnell Jefferies DT 7 7
Payton Page DT 2 2
James Skalski* LB 62 62
Trenton Simpson* LB 52 52
Baylon Spector* LB 51 51
LaVonta Bentley LB 10 10
Barrett Carter LB 1 1
Keith Maguire LB 1 1
Kane Patterson LB 1 1
Andrew Booth Jr.* CB 61 61
Mario Goodrich* CB 51 51
Sheridan Jones CB 18 18
Malcolm Greene* CB 12 12
Andrew Mukuba* S 59 59
Jalyn Philips S 34 34
Joseph Charleston S 30 30
Lannden Zanders S 5 5
Tyler Venables S 1 1

The two notable absences from Saturday’s matchup were of course DT Tyler Davis and safety Nolan Turner. Fortunately, true freshman Andrew Mukuba stepped in and played a phenomenal debut game (I believe this is the first time a freshman defensive back has started a season opener) to mitigate those losses. Ruke Orhorhoro and Tre Williams stepped up to the plate and definitely held their own as well.

It was good to see Justin Foster out there again, although I’ll need to go back and review the tape to see how he actually performed. The line as a whole looked like a force to be reckoned with, and there is plenty of reason for optimism to be found there.

The linebackers essentially started and played the entire game. Skalski was a machine as always, but I still cringe whenever he leads with his neck on some of his bulldozer tackles. I don’t know why a sixth-year senior still hasn’t mastered his tackling technique but it gives me flashbacks to him being ejected in post-season play (twice!).

Andrew Booth is that dude. His open-field tackle was a thing of beauty, and while there is a whole season left to play, he certainly looked like the corner Clemson needs on Saturday. Lannden Zanders sadly reinjured his shoulder and will be out for the season, leaving even more room for Mukuba to compete for a starting spot long-term.

The defense played lights out for the entire night, never truly letting the UGA offense find a rhythm. Three offensive points allowed is incredible, and it’s hard to criticize much when they really did such a stellar job. This defense has a chance to be really special when it’s all said and done.