Discussing Depth: How Clemson Will Line Up Against Auburn
Kelly Bryant completed 16 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown in last week's 56-7 win over Kent State. (Photo: Clemson Athletics/Justin Pondexter)
Quickly after receiving the syllabus, the #13 Auburn Tigers will take their first test. Auburn travels to the home of the defending national champions, Clemson, South Carolina, to face Dabo Swinney and the #3 Clemson Tigers.
Clemson lost 11 players to the NFL after last season's College Football Playoff National Title win, but you wouldn't know it based on how well the Tigers performed last Saturday against Kent State. Clemson posted 665 total yards of offense while scoring eight touchdowns en route to a 56-3 thrashing of the Golden Flashes.
Here is a breakdown of how the Tigers are projected to line up this Saturday against Auburn.
Quarterback- Kelly Bryant
Filling in for someone as dynamic as Deshaun Watson is no easy task, but Bryant got off to a good start last week against Kent State. The junior completed 16 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown, and added 77 yards on the ground and a touchdown to his stat line. Auburn will be a true test to see where he is talent-wise. The same could be said about Auburn's Jarrett Stidham.
Season Stats- 16-22-1, 236 yds, 1 TD/ 8 carries, 77 yards, TD
Running Backs- C.J. Fuller, Adam Choice
This is another group that had questions heading into the season. Wayne Gallman carried the load in Clemson's running game, by rushing for 504 yards more than the next person in line, quarterback Deshaun Watson. This year's depth chart features a set of backs that recorded 369 yards between the two of them in 15 games last season. Who knows what we could see on Saturday, as neither of these two factored into the game much. Both Fuller and Choice combined to carry the ball 11 times for 71 yards and three touchdowns. The leading rusher is listed as fourth on the depth chart, Travis Etienne, who rushed for 81 yards on eight carries.
Season Stats- (as a unit) 43 carries, 353 yds, 6 TD
Wide Receivers- Ray Ray McCloud, Hunter Renfroe, Deon Cain, Milan Richard (TE)
Hunter Renfroe, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass in last season's CFP National Championship Game, returns for his junior season. (Justin Pondexter)
Clemson Wide Receivers have always proved to be a tough unit. This season's crew is no different. The trio of McCloud, Renfroe, and Cain were in the top-six last season in receptions, which is big news considering they each recorded over 35 catches in a squad that also featured Mike Williams, Jordan Leggett, and Artavis Scott. 15 receivers caught a pass in last week's game, led by McCloud's three catches for 24 yards. This talented group of receivers could help new quarterback Kelly Bryant have a great season.
Season Stats (as a unit)- 25 catches, 312 yds, 2 TD
Offensive Line (from LT to RT)-
Mitch Hyatt, Taylor Hearn, Justin Falcinelli, Tyrone Crowder, Tremayne Anchrum
Clemson's offensive line returns three starters from last season's championship team (Hyatt, Hearn, Crowder), and looks to be just as solid this season. The line allowed Clemson quarterbacks to throw for over 300 yards in week one, and paved the way for a handful of running backs to rush for over 350.
Season stats (offense)- 56 PPG, 353 rush, 312 pass, 665 total
Defensive Line (From Left to Right)-
Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins, Austin Bryant
Wilkins and Bryant return to the Clemson defensive line from last season, joined by Ferrell and Lawrence as players who were second on the depth chart last season. As a unit, the starters picked up 15 total tackles last week, led by Bryant's six.
Season Stats (as a unit)- 15 tackles
Linebackers (From Sam to Will)-
Dorian O'Daniel, Tre Lamar, Kendall Joseph
Kendall Joseph led Clemson in tackles last week with eight. (Justin Pondexter)
The Clemson Linebacker corp looks very similar to last years, with one exception... Ben Boulware. Boulware recorded 261 tackles while he was a Tiger, with eye-popping 116 last season. Tre Lamar fills the role of Will Linebacker for Clemson, he earned 5 tackles last week against Kent State. O' Daniel recorded four, while Joseph led the team with eight.
Season Stats (as a unit)- 17 tackles
Defensive Backs (corners, free safety, strong safety)-
Ryan Carter, Trayvon Mullen, Tanner Muse, Van Smith
The defense was hit the hardest by last season, as they head into 2017 without Cordrea Tankersley or Jadar Johnson in the defensive back field. This week's starters did not have a standout performance, as Kent State only attempted five passes last week, leaving a lot of the defensive production to the front seven. Tanner Muse led all backs with four tackles in the season opener. Smith suffered a knee injury in last week's game with Kent State, and is questionable against Auburn.
Season Stats (as a unit)- six tackles
Special Teams (Kicker, Punter)-
Greg Huegel, Will Spiers
The Clemson Special teams did not factor much into last week's win. Huegel was 7-for-7 on extra point attempts, with Alex Spence succeeding on the extra point, after the final touchdown of the game for the Tigers. Will Spiers and Carson King each punted once. Last season, Huegel was successful on 71 of 73 extra point attempts, and was 14-of-19 on field goal tries. This is the first season that Spiers has punting duties, entering 2017 as a redshirt freshman.
Season Stats (Huegel, Spiers)-
Huegel- 7-of-7 extra points
Spiers- 1 punt, 49 yard average
Head Coach- Dabo Swinney (90-28, 9 seasons)
The Clemson Tigers continue to find success with Dabo Swinney as the Head Coach. Swinney has led the Tigers to two straight College Football Playoff appearances, winning last season's National Title. Since taking over in the middle of the 2008 season, Swinney has led Clemson to 90 wins, with an impressive 50-7 record at home.
"Overall, it’s a very experienced group who understands their scheme. They play hard and are well-coached. Looking at last year, it was a very competitive game, and I expect the same this year. I’m excited about competing against a great opponent in Auburn, and I’m really looking forward to a night game in the Valley. I know we’ll have a great crowd, and it’ll be a lot of fun to get out there under the lights and play this one at home."