Bryan Bresee's role should only increase going forward after a strong freshman campaign. (ACC photo)
Bryan Bresee's role should only increase going forward after a strong freshman campaign. (ACC photo)

Playing time breakdown: Clemson defense gains experience, offense will have new look

by - Staff Writer -

Clemson -- especially on the defensive side -- gained some experience that will carry over to a 2021 season where they should be a top-5 preseason team again.

That upcoming campaign is as hard to project as ever when it comes to roster management thanks to the NCAA blanket waiver for the 2020 season. But not counting the 2020 seniors who could come back (and not count against the 85-scholarship limit by NCAA ruling), the Tigers have 13 expected to return on offense who averaged double-digit snaps last year -- and around 20 on defense (number depending on some NFL decisions).

The defensive side of the ball is in line to return more of the 2020 key playmakers:

Most snaps by position

QB Trevor Lawrence - 627; RB Travis Etienne - 543; WR Amari Rodgers - 644; TE Braden Galloway - 463; C Cade Stewart - 827 (2019 starter Sean Pollard had 726 in 15 starts last year compared to Stewart’s in 12 2020 season games); OG Will Putnam - 790; OT Jackson Carman - 793; DE Myles Murphy - 414; DT Bryan Bresee - 434; LB Baylon Spector - 517; CB Derion Kendrick - 382; S Nolan Turner - 564.


Wrapping the Sugar Bowl specifically, the Tigers were left scrambling in the secondary with senior Nolan Turner out for the first half, where a patchwork safety group allowed the most passing yards since the last time in New Orleans (385) -- and really didn’t improve when Turner did get back on the field. Joseph Charleston played a season-high 70 snaps.

Sophomore cornerback Andrew Booth played a season-best 48 snaps after working his way back from injury in the previous two contests (out at Virginia Tech; seven snaps against Notre Dame in the ACC Championship).

With James Skalski ejected for the second time in three games, sophomore linebacker Kane Patterson hit the 30-play mark for the second time in three games and tallied seven tackles. After making an impact in the ACC Championship (5 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack in 25 snaps), freshman Trenton Simpson didn’t find his way on the statsheet in 13 snaps.

On offense, Clemson had 70 official plays and Amari Rodgers logged 69 snaps -- Cornell Powell, 68, and freshman EJ Williams, 61. Building some depth there will be a key in 2021.

Also looking ahead, running back will be a position to watch with some strong talent coming in and the school's best-ever running back expected to go out. Scholarship running backs not named Travis Etienne saw just 11 carries in the final three games combined.

Here’s a look at the snaps breakdown for the Sugar Bowl and season totals, plus noting the players who have declared or are currently expected to leave (in italics; there are some 2020 seniors we just don't know yet on though).

Clemson snaps breakdown: Ohio State

(Players' snaps assigned positionally by place on the depth chart below; the initial participation report is provided by Clemson and represents all non-special teams snaps; season totals in parentheses; this breakdown notes all depth chart contributors and select scholarship players; players leaving or expected to leave currently in italics.)


Quarterback: Trevor Lawrence 72 (627).

Running Back: Travis Etienne 55 (543), Lyn-J Dixon 10 (130), Chez Mellusi 6 (88).

Wide Receiver: Amari Rodgers 69 (644), Cornell Powell 68 (630), EJ Williams 61 (396), Brannon Spector 7 (180), Frank Ladson Jr 3 (261).

Tight end: Braden Galloway 45 (463), Davis Allen 32 (350).

Offensive Line: Cade Stewart 72 (827), Jackson Carman 70 (793), Will Putnam 70 (790), Matt Bockhorst 68 (753), Jordan McFadden 68 (767), Walker Parks 10 (200), Mason Trotter 7 (147).


Defensive End: Myles Murphy 46 (414), KJ Henry 38 (384), Justin Mascoll 39 (377), Regan Upshaw 4 (166).

Defensive Tackle: Tyler Davis 41 (196), Bryan Bresee 37 (434), Nyles Pinckney 37 (270), Jordan Williams 16 (209), Ruke Orhorhoro 3 (33).

Linebacker: Baylon Spector 59 (517), Kane Patterson 30 (138), Mike Jones Jr. 28 (359), James Skalski** 27 (291), Trenton Simpson 13 (271).

DB (CB/S/NB): Joseph Charleston 70 (502), Derion Kendrick 63 (382), Andrew Booth 48 (335), Malcolm Greene 42 (197), Nolan Turner* 31 (564), Mario Goodrich 25 (237), Lannden Zanders 56 (394), Ray Thornton III 17 (158), Sheridan Jones 12 (300), Tyler Venables 6 (214), Jalyn Phillips 3 (149).

Special-teams only (non-specialists): CB Fred Davis II (183), WR Will Swinney (127), CB LeAnthony Williams (113), LB Keith Maguire (100), OL Tayquon Johnson (86), TE Jaelyn Lay (76), LB LaVonta Bentley (73), RB Darien Rencher (62), RB Kobe Pace (50), LB Kevin Swint (35), RB Michel Dukes (19).

Did not play: QB DJ Uiagalelei (235), TE JC Chalk (123), WR Ajou Ajou (113), OL Paul Tchio (80), WR Will Brown (78), DT Greg Williams (67), OL Mitchell Mayes (61), OL Hunter Rayburn (57), DT Darnell Jefferies (49), QB Taisun Phommachanh (43), DT Etinosa Reuben (40), OL Blake Vinson (37), S RJ Mickens (36). TE Sage Ennis (27), OL Trent Howard (21), DT DeMonte Capehart (20), LB Sergio Allen (18), OL Bryn Tucker (11), OL John Williams (7), OL Kaleb Boateng (5).

On unavailable list for Ohio State game (no specified reasons for being out on pregame release but some are temporary or season-long injury issues and some are reduced travel squad-related): DE Justin Foster (0), WR Joseph Ngata (122), TE Luke Price (0), WR Justyn Ross (0), DE Xavier Thomas (119), LB Jake Venables (319) and DT Tré Williams (14).

* Sat out the first half for a targeting suspension from the ACC Championship.

** Ejected for targeting in the first half.

Wake Forest

The Citadel



Georgia Tech


Boston College

Notre Dame


Virginia Tech

Notre Dame

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Tags: Clemson Football, Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Amari Rodgers, Braden Galloway, Cade Stewart, Sean Pollard, Will Putnam, Jackson Carman, Myles Murphy, Bryan Bresee, Baylon Spector, Derion Kendrick, Nolan Turner, Joseph Charleston, James Skalski, Kane Patterson, Trenton Simpson, Lyn-J Dixon, Chez Mellusi, Cornell Powell, EJ Williams, Brannon Spector, Will Brown, Davis Allen, Matt Bockhorst, Jordan McFadden, Walker Parks, Mason Trotter, KJ Henry, Justin Mascoll, Regan Upshaw, Tyler Davis, Nyles Pinckney, Jordan Williams, Ruke Orhorhoro, Malcolm Greene, Mario Goodrich, Lannden Zanders, Ray Thornton, Sheridan Jones, Tyler Venables, Jalyn Phillips, Fred Davis , Will Swinney, LeAnthony Williams, Keith Maguire, Tayquon Johnson, Jaelyn Lay, LaVonta Bentley, Darien Rencher, Kobe Pace, Kevin Swint, Michel Dukes, Sergio Allen, DJ Uiagalelei, JC Chalk, Ajou Ajou, Paul Tchio, Greg Williams, Mitchell Mayes, Hunter Rayburn, Darnell Jefferies, Taisun Phommachanh, Etinosa Reuben, Blake Vinson, RJ Mickens, Sage Ennis, Trent Howard, DeMonte Capehart, Bryn Tucker, John Williams, Kaleb Boateng, Justin Foster, Joseph Ngata, Luke Price, Justyn Ross, Xavier Thomas, Jake Venables, Tré Williams
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