College soccer spring practices are fully turn the country, and currently the time has return for these groups to complete up their sessions with the annual spring games. one in every of the foremost anticipated scrimmages on the calendar is up initial as Clemson concludes its initial spring session of the post-Trevor Lawrence era on Sabbatum in desert.
Replacing the presumptive No. one overall choose within the 2021 NFL Draft would be far more nerve-racking if not for the presence of D.J. Uiagalelei, WHO not solely carries a five-star recruiting background and first-round ceiling of his own, however already tried his ability against high competition throughout his freshman season whereas Lawrence uncomprehensible 2 games following a COVID-19 identification. Uiagalelei and therefore the offense, that conjointly loses wander command Player of the Year and record-shredding general-purpose back Travis Etienne, are of most interest to fans. however there is intrigue everywhere the sector for a team which will once more be thought-about among the frontrunners within the school soccer competition race for 2021.
Clemson’s spring game may be a true scrimmage with associate Orange team and a White team that each embody projected starters. Uiagalelei are the beginning quarterback for the Orange team, wherever he are joined by beginning defensive tackle Tyler Davis and 2 of the highest young candidates expected to push Lyn-J Dixon for the beginning back job in Kobe Pace and five-star freshman can Shipley. Dixon is cloth up for the White team, together with wide receivers Ajou Ajou and EJ Williams, beginning defensive tackle Bryan Bresee et al.
Coach Dabo Swinney works with each groups whereas defensive organiser brant goose Venables is allotted to Orange and offensive organiser Tony Elliott is allotted to White. There square measure over a dozen notable absences for Saturday’s spring game owing to injuries or different reasons, as well as linebacker James Skalski, wide receiver Justyn Ross, defensive lineman K.J. Henry and wide receiver Frank Ladson boy..
You can read the total rosters for the Orange and White squads at this link here.
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Date: Sabbatum, Apr three | Time: one p.m. ET
Location: Clemson Memorial structure — Clemson, S.C.
TV: command Network
1. Defensive front encompasses a likelihood to be special: The aftermath of leaving behind 639 yards at eight.8 yards per play during a 49-28 loss to Ohio State within the school soccer competition semifinals has enclosed heaps of questions on Clemson’s defense. The Tigers were dominant on it aspect of the ball for abundant of the season, however against Notre Dame (the initial time) and Ohio State, the results appeared as outliers. the nice news for Clemson fans is that the defensive front encompasses a likelihood to not solely take a leap forward be elite.
The talent is there, and now young players who were forced into extra work because of injuries enter the upcoming season with more experience and a hunger to improve. Unfortunately, the impact of injuries has remained through spring practice as Xavier Thomas has dealt with some protocol limitations and a shoulder injury, plus K.J. Henry hasn’t taken any live reps after being ruled out for spring practice back in February. While their absences have continued the development for Clemson’s defensive line depth, the most exciting note from defensive coordinator Brent Venables is that the starters — and stars — of that group have had terrific springs.
“Probably the most improvement I’ve seen from any two guys on our defense is Tyler Davis and Bryan Bresee,” Venables said this week, via 247Sports. “They’ve had terrific springs. If we are going to be what we all hope we can be going into next year man, it starts with those guys.”
Davis and Bresee are All-ACC level players the moment they set foot on the field and each have the potential to play at an All-American level. We won’t see them rack up sacks against their teammates in the spring game format, but I bet they’re going to cause some headaches for the opposing defensive line.
2. Sorting out the pecking order at the skill positions: One of the most exciting announcements coming out of Clemson this spring was Dabo Swinney confirming that Justyn Ross, who missed all of 2020 following a diagnosis of a congenital fusion in his spine, was working out with the team as a non-contact participant and hoped to be medically cleared to suit up for fall camp and be on the field when the Tigers start 2021 against Georgia in Charlotte. Many feared that Ross, who totaled 1,865 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns in his freshman and sophomore seasons, might not play again. But if a follow-up appointment with doctors in June goes well, he could be one of the most important pieces to Clemson’s pursuit of a seventh-straight College Football Playoff appearance.
The absence of Ross opened the door for a handful of highly-recruited young players to emerge, but nagging injuries and other issues left the Tigers relying on two seniors, Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell, as the primary targets at wide receiver. Rodgers and Powell are gone, and Ross and Frank Ladson Jr. won’t be playing in the spring game, so all eyes will be on those talented underclassmen in the passing game. E.J. Williams came on strong late during his freshman season in 2020, and Ajou Ajou put together a highlight-reel catch-and-run during the rout of Georgia Tech. But keep your eye on the freshman (notably Beaux Collins) who have reportedly made a strong impression on their teammates this spring.
While wide receiver is a more interesting discussion because of the number of options, arguably the more important position to fill is running back. Etienne was not only the anchor of the ground game but the team’s third-leading receiver in each of the last two seasons. Replacing his production might take a committee, and that’s where it will be interesting to track the pecking order between Etienne’s longtime backup Lyn-J Dixon, redshirt freshman Kobe Pace and true freshman Will Shipley.
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3. Testing the depth at quarterback: When Lawrence had to miss two games in the middle of the season, Clemson was fortunate to have a player like Uiagalelei there to step up. But what if the Tigers have to go to his backup in 2021? Taisun Phommachanh is the expected starter for the White team, and thanks to a couple of blowout wins in his young career, the redshirt sophomore has seen action in seven career games. But in terms of the spring game, that’s about it because redshirt freshman Hunter Helms (who did throw for two touchdowns against Georgia Tech last year) is listed on both the Orange and White rosters. Depending on how much work the Clemson coaches put on Uiagalelei’s plate, there could be a lot of time for Phommachanh and Helms to show off their potential in the game.
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