- Heather Dinich, ESPN Staff Writer
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Three things we learned in the spring about the Clemson Tigers:
1. Cole Stoudt is the starting QB. What began as an intriguing three-way competition to replace record-setter Tajh Boyd was whittled down to Stoudt after Chad Kelly was dismissed from the team following the Tigers’ spring game. Early enrollee freshman Deshaun Watson had a very impressive spring, but he ended practice with a minor collarbone injury.
2. Clemson’s defensive line is as good as advertised. Granted it was only two-hand touch on the quarterback, but the defense still had 14 sacks and 11 of them were by the front four in the Tigers’ spring game. There’s a rotation of 10 players for those four positions, giving Clemson one of the deepest lines in the ACC if not the country.
3. Safety is the right fit for T.J. Green. Green was recruited to Clemson as a safety, but he switched to wide receiver last year where he played sparingly, mostly on special teams, as a true freshman. This spring, the staff moved him back to his natural position and he flourished, leading the Orange team with eight tackles in the spring game.
Three questions for the fall:
1. Who will replace Sammy Watkins? It’s still one of the biggest questions in the ACC as Clemson has lots of depth, but none of the players separated themselves this spring as the go-to receiver. Adam Humphries, Germone Hopper, Charone Peake and Mike Williams are the most experienced options, but the staff is also very excited about newcomers Demarre Kitt, Kyrin Priester and Artavis Scott.
2. Who will be Clemson’s go-to running back? Much like the receivers, this was a very balanced group, as evidenced by the spring game stats. D.J. Howard (59 yards), Wayne Gallman (61 yards), Kurt Fleming (55 yards) and Zac Brooks (50 yards) had fairly even performances. Brooks is the leading returning rusher after gaining 246 yards on 48 carries last season, but it’s anyone’s game this summer.
3. Who will be starting right tackle? It was a concern for Dabo Swinney entering the spring and remains one heading into the summer. Isaiah Battle will be starting left tackle, but right tackle is up for grabs. It’s possible Swinney could move Kalon Davis, who started seven games at guard last year. Shaq Anthony or one of the younger players might also earn the job.
One way-too-early prediction
Clemson will lose its sixth straight game to rival South Carolina. Clemson will have the edge on defense, but if the Tigers couldn’t beat South Carolina with an all-star cast that included Watkins and Boyd, then it’s going to take more than defensive end Vic Beasley to beat the Gamecocks without them.