Orange and White Game: Thoughts on the roster, what we're looking for

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Trevor Lawrence won't have Justyn Ross but does have Tee Higgins
Trevor Lawrence won't have Justyn Ross but does have Tee Higgins

The crown jewel of spring in Clemson takes place Saturday when the National Champions hold the annual Orange and White Game in Death Valley. Kickoff is set for 2:30 pm and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

This year’s spring game doesn’t have the high-interest quarterback battles of the last two seasons, but there are still plenty of things to look for and thoughts on the rosters that were released Thursday evening.

Orange and White Game

When: Saturday, April 6
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C.
Admission: Free
Kickoff time: 2:30 p.m. (Stadium entrances begin at 11 a.m.)
TV: ESPN2 (Kirk Herbstreit, Joey Galloway, Chris Cotter)
Online: WatchESPN
Radio: WCCP 105.5 FM, ESPN Upstate 97.7 FM
Parking: Lots open at 8 a.m. Available on a first-come, first-served basis.

I wondered how the coaches would divide the offensive talent. Would Trevor Lawrence be matched with either Justyn Ross (the duo made quite the connection during the College Football Playoff last season) or Travis Etienne? Nope…those two belong to Chase Brice, who also has intriguing freshman Frank Ladson, Jr., Diondre Overton, TJ Chase, and tight end Braden Galloway.

Brice’s White team is also stacked defensively, with KJ Henry, K’Von Wallace, Justin Mascoll, AJ Terrell, and James Skalski and freshman defensive tackle Tyler Davis.

Lawrence doesn’t lack for weapons – he has wide receivers Tee Higgins and Joseph Ngata and the best running back duo in Tavien Feaster and Lyn-J Dixon. Add in freshman tight end Jaelyn Lay – who gets an early chance to connect with Lawrence – and the Orange team has the chance to put up points.

Defensively, the Orange team has Xavier Thomas, Shaq Smith, Isaiah Simmons and Logan Rudolph among others.

Things to watch out for include the play of sophomore wide receiver/corner Derion Kendrick. We are not sure if he will see service on both sides of the ball Saturday, but early indications show that he will spend the majority of his time at cornerback. Kendrick might even be matched up against Ross part of the afternoon, a battle that will be fun to watch.

We will also be keeping an eye on kicker BT Potter, who looks to have the early edge at kicker. Potter will kick for both teams. Head coach Dabo Swinney has said that while there aren’t any questions about Potter’s leg, there have been questions about his consistency.

Clemson’s defense is light at defensive tackle – Nyles Pinckney and Jordan Williams have missed the spring with injury – which means Xavier Kelly, Darnell Jefferies, Tyler Davis, Etinosa Rueben, and Ruke Orhorhoro will be under the microscope Saturday.

As for the defensive ends – Thomas, Henry, and Mascoll headline a group that has to grow up in a hurry. Keep an eye on Justin Foster (who looks to grab a starting job), Logan Cash is another player that has been mentioned frequently this spring.

Will the tight ends be a factor? The most experienced member of the unit entering 2019 is junior J.C. Chalk who has appeared in 24 career contests. Galloway opened his career with a touchdown reception in his debut last season and would provide 12 games of experience if deemed eligible in 2019. Lay is the intriguing player at that position – he has all of the physical tools to be a star, but it’s taken time this spring for Lay to get used to the speed of the college game. Will Saturday be his coming out party?

Saturday will also be all about the freshmen – from Lay to Ngata to Ladson to the young defensive linemen to the young secondary guys, it’s the first chance to see all of these guys in action in Death Valley. The offensive player I’m most excited to see is Ngata, while Davis takes that honor on the defensive side of the ball.



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