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Lawrence, Bryant to headline annual Spring Game

The arrival of spring brings a new air of mystery to Clemson football. It reminds us of the renewed mindset, freshman talent and the joy of walking through the gates for a warm, spring game. Year after year, expectations for Clemson are high. This year is no different and it makes the environment in the locker room hopeful for a championship season. Headed into his eleventh season as Clemson’s head coach, Dabo Swinney continues to motivate his players to pursue greatness in every aspect, as he has voiced his intention of being right back at the top of the rankings in the 2018 season.

The Tigers are facing a little bit of a different year than last. Although it’s inevitable that every year will come with change, with players graduating, transferring and new ones coming in, this year still holds some questions for the Tigers. Those are: who will play quarterback, will we continue to have a running back by committee and why the defense doesn’t look good despite returning Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant, Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins.  

On the offensive side, co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliot expressed the confidence he has in the quarterback position. There is still a lot of talk on the quarterback situation, as the incumbency of Kelly Bryant as starting quarterback is beginning to be questioned. The speed that freshman Trevor Lawrence has shown from his natural ability to pick up the offense and execute it gives him an edge over the other quarterbacks to be able to compete with Kelly Bryant. Bryant is familiar with the way the offense runs more than Lawrence is right now, but the confidence Lawrence is showing as the new guy builds hope in his future as a potential starting quarterback.

Travis Etienne is another topic of discussion, as he is already showing major potential coming into his sophomore year.

When asked about the difference between last year and this year for him, he said, “Just my confidence. Confidence in myself and confidence in my understanding of the game.”

Last year he broke Clemson legend CJ Spiller’s freshman record for number of rushing touchdowns scored, and is projected to continue to set new standards for running backs at Clemson.

The running back depth chart holds a lot of talent for this coming season. With CJ Fuller gone, expect to see a lot more from the Feaster Etienne duo. These two combined produce a lot of yardage, as they both had 107 carries last year. Joining the running back squad is Lyn-J Dixon out of Butler, GA. He has talent, but will have to work hard to get a starting position above the other running backs.

The spring game this Saturday will give the defensive unit an opportunity to prove themselves against the doubt Coach Venables has expressed about the performance he has seen so far in practice. He said that his guys are “not where they’re supposed to be by spring”. The returning leaders on defense are going to have to step up, as this is their 3rd and 4th season with the Tigers. They know the program, they know what Venables expects, and their leadership will help the new guys reach the Clemson standard.

The last remaining question for the Clemson defense is the secondary, as cornerback Ryan Carter and safety Van Smith will not be putting on a Clemson jersey this fall. The secondary is where Clemson will lack this season, but if they do their job with the players they have, there is no doubt Clemson defense will be one of the best in the nation by the time the game lights come on.

The Spring Game will start at 2:30 PM EDT and will be available to stream on ESPN. 

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