January 21, 2019

#ThrowbackThursday – Spencer Shuey tackles Orwin Smith for a safety

Clinging to a 7 point lead with 10 minutes to go Clemson gets a huge play by Spencer Shuey on their way to a 47-31 victory over Georgia Tech.

Then versus Now: How the 2016 Tigers stack up against the 2013 Tigers


With Clemson’s Fiesta Bowl matchup versus Ohio State just days away we’ll take an in-depth look at how this year’s team compares to the 11-2 team from 2013, who capped their season with an Orange Bowl victory over Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes. This piece will provide a snapshot at both the similarities and differences between two of the best teams to ever play at Clemson.






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Podcast:Clemson/Georgia Preview with Brandon Rink of OrangeandWhite.com

Brandon Rink and I take a look at the key components of the Clemson/Georgia matchup and hazard a guess at which team will ultimately win the game.

Editors Note: Please bear with the podcasting production while my podcasting skills are honed. Your patience is appreciated.

Podcast Art (and all SUR graphics) courtesy of Adam Eargle.



The numbers for linebackers (and defensive backs) get murky because of special team tackles being included in their stats.

That said, to me these numbers indicate what most Clemson fans know – Shuey is better against the run than pass, Christian is better against the pass than run, and Anthony is pretty good in both areas though better against the pass, while Tony Steward is a special teams demon.

*Special Teams tackles are included in the statistics below – We will address that for the coming season.

It’ll be interesting to see what develops with Kellen Jones. Jones got quite a bit of ink last season while redshirting, but is listed third on the depth chart at two linebacker positions headed into the fall.

2013 Returning Experience: Linebacker

The Tigers lost over 3,000 snaps of experience at linebacker as the 2012 season came to an end. That total is not as bad as it seems because while Corico Wright saw 1,737 of those snaps during his career, only 163 came in 2012.

In 2013 the Tigers return 3 experienced linebackers, 3 with less experience (1 coming off redshirt due to injury) and a redshirt transfer (Kellen Jones) that will be eligible after sitting out a year.

Spencer Shuey blasted out of obscurity to take the middle linebacker job away from Stephone Anthony. If that continues, it’ll be interesting to see how the coaches handle Anthony – will he be moved to another LB position to get him on the field or will he remain as Shuey’s backup?

Quandon Christian is the most experienced linebacker returning, but the reality is that Christian is on the field about 50% of the plays due to the nature of play calls against the Tigers.

Tony Steward’s two years on campus have netted only 109 snaps, placing him in danger of becoming the next Rendrick Taylor.

After seeing 90 snaps over his first two years Justin Parker sat out 2012 with an injury, but should be fully healed.

This is a critical area of need and the Tigers are hopeful that it will be addressed tomorrow (National Signing Day) as the  multiple players are verbally committed that could provide depth at this position as true freshmen.

For me this group is the great unknown for the Clemson defense. Shuey is solid, if unspectacular, while Anthony has underachieved to this point.

2012 Linebacker Experience Final

What happens to Anthony assuming Shuey continues to start? Will Steward finally see the field for extended periods of time when the game is in doubt? Will one of the true freshmen committed to Clemson provide depth, or perhaps even play on a regular basis? After Jones drew rave reviews from the coaching staff in 2012 where does he fit in?

There are more questions than answers for this group at this point, but the clouds will hopefully begin to clear in the spring.

Looking Back – Game 7

Spencer Shuey (orangeandwhite.com Mark Crammer)

Thoughts compiled while watching Clemson get every questionable call during Saturday’s 38-17 win over Virginia Tech.

  • Strange flow in this game.  Not much offense from Clemson and the defense scores a touchdown.
  • Boyd throws only 21 passes, none in the 4th quarter.
  • 8 of those passes came on one drive.  All other drives combined? 13 passes.
  • Only 3 receivers for Clemson (Watkins, Hopkins and Ellington) caught a pass and one of those (Ellington) caught only 1.
  • Watkins didn’t exactly bust loose, but 8 catches for 84 yards isn’t too bad.
  • Spencer Shuey may be slow, but the guy just makes plays.
  • I commented about a week ago that perhaps the number of sacks given up (10 before Saturday) was a mirage because of Boyd’s new found escapablity and that the total should probably be closer to 20.  Yesterday exposed some chinks in the Clemson offensive line’s armor.
  • Virginia Tech had more plays, more yards, more time of possession, but they also had more turnovers.

Looking Back – Game 6

Observations from the couch while watching Clemson beat Georgia Tech 47-31 Saturday.

  • DeAndre Hopkins is having an incredible year.  In six games he has 49 catches for 777 yards (15.9) and 8 touchdowns.  Wow.
  • Sammy Watkins didn’t look close to 100% and he looked tentative, often running out-of-bounds instead of fighting for extra yards on both kickoffs and receptions.
  • Tajh Boyd broke the record for TD passes, but also looked a bit off.  Several throws were high and off target, but Boyd also had two completions (the 27 yarder to Peake in the first half and the throw to Rod McDowell in the second half) that should have been walk-in touchdowns if Boyd was even close to being on target.
  • Speaking of Rod McDowell, he continues to impress.  9 carries for 56 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus a reception for 23 yards.
  • Boyd’s ability to run the ball is very under rated.  We’re not talking Tommy Frazier here, but Boyd does just enough and is just enough of a threat to be effective.
  • Nice to see Charone Peake get the ball downfield a couple of times.  Result? 2 explosive plays.
  • Spencer Shuey’s play and the safety turned the momentum.  Nice solid tackle.
  • I tweeted at halftime that Clemson was on pace for 100 plays.  Seemed ludicrous at the time since Tech got the ball first in second half, but the Tigers still ended up with 93 snaps.  Tech was obviously tired and it showed in the 4th quarter as Clemson outscored the Jackets 17-3.
  • Clemson’s defensive backfield is frightening whether in coverage or against the run.
  • The two teams combined for 2 punts – 1 by each team.

Much like the Tigers, I’ll be taking some time off this week.  I’ll up date the stats and post a time or two, but it won’t be the regular daily diet of Clemson football here until next week.

Defensive Stats

We’ll probably have a better idea what these numbers mean over the next two or three weeks as we hit the ACC games, but Tony Steward’s numbers jump off the page at you, even if it was “just Furman”.

Also, Stephone Anthony is getting a fair amount of praise for his play, but his primary tackle ratio is similar to Christian and Willard. Anthony has a huge advantage over those two in assists, but Spencer Shuey and Corico Wright have better ratios in that category.

Defensive Stats 3

Defensive Tackles and Assists Ratios

Below are the ratios of tackles and assists for the returning defensive players. I’m not sure there’s a lot of value in this data at this point, but thought I would share. It’s difficult to compare numbers because the many of the players that will see significant action in 2012 have 0 to little past experience. I’m hopeful that seeing this data in season, as the season develops, will be useful.

Defensive Tackles and Assists Ratios

In general, the lower the number the better and this is where a couple of surprises come in, namely the two numbers below 9 snaps per tackle owned by Corico Hawkins and Spencer Shuey.

Hawkins is criticized constantly by Tiger fans, but his averages are better than Jonathan Willard’s. Also, let’s not forget Tony Steward is looming, assuming recovery from knee injuries is complete.

Shuey is listed as a back up in the middle and it’ll be interesting to see how many snaps he sees with the emergence of Stephone Anthony.

Position Outlook: Clemson Linebackers

If ever a team met the challenge of filling a position of need on signing day of 2011 it had to be Clemson at linebacker.  The Tigers reeled in 5, but more importantly inked the #1 national prospect in Tony Steward, fellow 5 star Stephone Anthony and 4 star prospect Lateek Townsend.
The Tigers might need all 3 right away at a position that has tormented fans (and Kevin Steele) for years, but none enrolled early and will have to play catch up in the fall.
The post-spring depth chart lists Quandon Christian as the starter at strong side linebacker, backed up by Justin Parker and then Daniel Andrews.  There’s nothing spectacular here, though I like what I’ve seen of Christian and he could develop nicely.  The question is, is his upside limited?  Parker is largely a mystery because of a lack of playing time and Andrews is oft injured and has done little other than special teams.  Look for a shakeup here as the incoming class arrives and begins to make their presence felt.
All three of the highly touted incoming backers are listed as outside backers by Rivals.com, so perhaps Corico Hawkins is safe in the middle with the departure of Brandon Maye.  Depth is an issue here, too as I’m not sure that Spencer Shuey is going to be an adequate backup to Hawkins long-term. 
On the weak side, Tig Willard is listed as the starter over redshirt freshman Vic Beasley.  Willard looked noticeably bigger during the spring game and there is some reason for optimism.  Fans hoped Beasley would play last year, but it didn’t happen (a good thing) and he could also develop into a nice player.
Townsend was listed at 6’2 and 197 lbs. and needs time for his body to develop and mature and appears to be a strong candidate for a redshirt and a year in the weight room.
Steward and Anthony will play in 2011.  The question is where and how much.  Honestly I have no idea, but expect the depth chart at this position to look vastly different in August/September.