The Clemson Tigers have started the 2018 season with a 4-0 record as they continue the journey they hope will take them back to the College Football Playoff.
In this edition of our Up Downs feature, we take a look at which players made a move last Saturday in the Tigers’ win over Georgia Tech and are elevating their game and position on the depth chart.
We also take a look at which players have fallen down the depth chart due to injury or performance.
Trevor Lawrence: Lawrence was named the starting quarterback following his four-touchdown performance against Georgia Tech and now has full control of the offense after Kelly Bryant’s decision to transfer. Lawrence has completed 65 percent of his passes this season for 600 yards and nine touchdowns against just two interceptions. The true freshman has a passer rating of 191.8 that ranks eighth in the country among qualified quarterbacks. Now the unquestioned starter, Lawrence could enter the Heisman discussion if he keeps playing the way he has.
Chase Brice: Brice finds himself as Lawrence’s backup following Bryant’s sudden exit. In limited action this season, the redshirt freshman is 5-of-8 passing for 37 yards with an interception. Brice is now second on the depth chart at quarterback behind Lawrence and ahead of first-year freshman Ben Batson. Brice is an injury to Lawrence away from being the guy at quarterback for the Tigers, so they will do everything they can to continue developing him and make sure he is ready should he have to step in.
Tavien Feaster: Travis Etienne has been the talk of Clemson’s running back group, and he has rushed for 284 yards and three touchdowns in the past two games combined. While he is clearly the Tigers’ No. 1 back, Feaster reminded everyone against Georgia Tech that he is still here and a threat out of the backfield. The junior had 75 yards rushing, including a 27-yard touchdown run, on eight carries against the Yellow Jackets. Dabo Swinney said this week that Feaster has “made a move” after starting the season third on the running back depth chart behind Etienne and Adam Choice. Feaster and Choice are now listed as co-backups to Etienne.
Justyn Ross: Ross continues to stake his claim for more opportunities in the passing game. The true freshman has recorded six career receptions, three of which have gone for touchdowns, and is averaging 28.7 yards per catch. He has found the end zone in three of the Tigers’ first four games while displaying his immense talent, playmaking ability and capacity to run after the catch. Look for Ross’s role in the offense to grow moving forward.
J.D. Davis: Davis was forced to fill in for starting WILL linebacker Kendall Joseph against Georgia Tech after the latter sustained a groin injury leading up to the game. There was no drop off with Davis as the starter, as he tallied a game-high 10 tackles including a sack and tackle for loss. The senior has proven his worth as a starter – he also started five games last season – and will be ready to play whenever his number is called.
Kelly Bryant: In a matter of days, Bryant went from being Clemson’s starting quarterback to completely out of the picture. Having played in only four games, the senior has opted to take advantage of the NCAA’s redshirt rule and transfer from Clemson to another school for his final year of eligibility. With Bryant’s departure, Lawrence now has both hands on the reigns of Clemson’s offense.
Kendall Joseph: Joseph missed the Georgia Tech game with a groin injury and saw Davis fill in seamlessly in his absence. Joseph returned to practice this week and is still listed as the starting WILL linebacker heading into the Syracuse game but Davis has made his case for more playing time behind Joseph.
Noah DeHond: Swinney announced this week that DeHond is dealing with a nerve injury. The redshirt freshman will likely need surgery and be out for the season. Clemson was hopeful the 6-foot-7, 310-pounder could take the next step in his development this season, but the good news for him is he is a young player and has a lot of football still ahead of him.