Dabo Swinney told fans not to make too much of his summer depth chart. He’s obviously right, but that hasn’t stopped us before, so why should this time be any different?
A few musings concerning the most updated two-deep for the Tigers…
- It is a snapshot of Swinney’s mindset.
Even if it may not be clear to us as consumers, believe this: Every bit of this depth chart was pieced together for a reason. So much of it reflects the very nature of Swinney himself.
Older players are ahead of younger players, as he puts a premium on experience over talent. It’s clear he isn’t giving or taking jobs based upon spring performance since most of the two-deep maintains the status quo. He rewards loyalty and consistency in several spots and makes sure newbies understand the pecking order by making them patiently wait.
- No more “or” situation exists at running back.
For the first time in a while, there are three distinct spots on the tailback depth chart. CJ Fuller appears entrenched as the starter, then Adam Choice sits behind him. Then comes Tavien Feaster, the talented speedster who still has some ground to make up before he can see meaningful action.
This might surprise some people, but perhaps it shouldn’t. There was a steep learning curve for Feaster last year, plus he was returning from an injury that lingered throughout his senior season of high school. Meanwhile, Choice has four years in the program and has a starter’s ability when healthy.
- A new “or” situation exists at right tackle.
I’m going to surmise this is an attempt to recognize Tremayne Anchrum’s value on the offensive line and the improvements he has made over the course of the offseason. Otherwise, maybe Sean Pollard should take note of the co-starter designation at right tackle. After all, Swinney has been known to send messages to players from whom he expects a higher level of performance with a demotion in the pecking order.
Anchrum is the backup on the left side, as well, so it could also be Swinney’s way of making sure everyone knows he has three capable tackles that will fill the two spots in 2017. There’s no way to view it, though, without feeling like Pollard needs to bring a little extra into August.
- Nickel and SAM are separate.
It was always weird to see Dorian O’Daniel and Ryan Carter listed at the same position. They’re not even remotely similar players in terms of skill set or physique, yet they sat back-to-back on the depth chart at times last season.
Kudos to Swinney for making this depth chart a little easier to understand at that position. It also gives him a chance to list more players without weaving them in and out intermittently in a hard-to-understand way. If this trend continues during the season, as a media member, I will greatly appreciate it.
- Look who your holder is.
If you had the thought “now all Hunter Renfrow needs to do is score on a fake field goal” during the offseason, you might be in luck. Renfrow has been a holder before and performed well in the spring game, so there’s a very real possibility this sticks.
Imagine the possibilities. Renfrow throwing passes to Christian Wilkins. Renfrow flipping the ball back to Greg Huegel, then scoring on a reverse pass. This means yet another clutch role—holding on critical placekicks—is in Renfrow’s hands. It’s pressure for him, but it probably makes fans feel much better about the kicking game.