Clemson is set for one of the most interesting spring games in memory. On Wednesday, Coach Swinney announced that the rosters will be structured to pit the first-team offense against the first team defense and second-team offense against second-team defense. With so many wide receivers and offensive linemen out, this makes a ton of sense and will make drawing conclusions from the game a whole lot easier.
Obviously, all eyes will be on that first team offense. Everyone is itching to see the new air raid system and see how much more explosive it will be. Wide receivers Beaux Collins, Adam Randall, and Will Taylor will not play in the contest. Fortunately, because they are keeping the first team offense together, QB Cade Klubnik will still have Antonio Williams, Cole Turner, and TE Jake Briningstool to throw to. Both Cole Turner and Jake Briningstool will play critical roles in Clemson’s offense taking a big step forward and are players to keep an eye on in this scrimmage. Clemson has lacked a receiver who can race downfield and either get behind the defense or go up and get it over them. Cole Turner may be Clemson’s best shot at having that this season.
Briningstool is ascending to the starting spot at tight end. After years of begging Tony Elliott and then Brandon Streeter to use the middle-of-the-field, Garrett Riley is supposedly willing to do so. Briningstool has the talent to make that a worthwhile endeavor and I’m hoping Coach Riley is as willing to take advantage as the spring camp chatter seems to indicate.
Both offensive guards, Walker Parks and Marcus Tate, are out so we’ll see how the offensive line holds up. Fortunately, it won’t be divided in half as it usually is in the traditional split squad style spring game so we’ll at least see three starters playing together including new left tackle Tristan Leigh.
On the recruiting trail, Clemson has missed on several 2024 QB recruits as Walker White committed to Auburn and then Air Noland committed to Ohio State. I’m very interested to see if Chris Vizzina looks like he will be the primary back-up and avoid a redshirt. It would be a little frustrating if that’s the case because the staff elected to use a scholarship to bring in Paul Tyson from Arizona State. Last year they brought in Hunter Johnson on scholarship and used him very sparingly. This year the scholarship allotment is tighter and has been cited as a reason for not bringing in an impact transfer at wide receiver. With the recruiting misses, redshirting Vizzina would allow Clemson to use Hunter Helms or Paul Tyson as the primary back-up and then essentially re-classify Vizzina. Of course, this all depends on how willing Vizzina is to do that and stay four or five years, but it makes sense on the surface.
Lastly, I am looking forward to seeing Coach Swinney play the role of emcee. Hopefully, he is out on the field yelling at players and chatting it up with the commentators. They’ve done an excellent job adding that element to past Clemson spring game broadcasts and I hope to see it again.
Update: Spring game rosters have been announced. Check them out here.