Monday Morning Quarterback
With all that has gone on at Clemson in the last four days, it seemed like Tavien Feaster’s transfer happened like a month ago. However, it was just last week the senior running back decided to put his name in the transfer portal and will be leaving Tigertown.
So, what does Feaster’s departure mean at running back?
From a depth standpoint, it will not hurt at all. Clemson will have four scholarship running backs on campus this summer, plus walk-on Darien Rencher has positioned himself to earn more playing time.
The Tigers will still have five quality running backs on the roster. However, experience is the main issue.
There is no one behind ACC Player of the Year Travis Etienne with any real experience. Lyn-J Dixon did play a lot last year, but most of it came in mop-up duty. With Feaster gone, Dixon automatically moves up to the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.
Rencher, more than likely, will begin fall camp in the No. 3 spot. But like Dixon he has limited experience, especially in key situations.
The other two running backs are true freshmen Chez Mellusi (6-0, 175) and Michel Dukes (5-11, 190). Both will be on campus for the second summer session. And since they did not go through spring drills, they both have a lot of work to do in order to put themselves in position to play.
Running the football will not be an issue for either one of the freshmen. They are both talented young men that know what to do with the football in their hands. However, understanding their roles in Clemson’s offense is where the difficulties lie.
Clemson’s offense is not an easy one to master, especially for a freshman. The running back position is asked to do a lot of things, especially in the passing game.
Feaster was Clemson’s best pass blocker in the running back room, and he was its best weapon in the screen game. He understood coverages. He understood the protections and he had the best hands of all the running backs.
That’s where Clemson is going to miss him the most. According to co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott during spring drills, Etienne and Dixon have come a long way in improving in those areas. However, Feaster was still considered the best when it came to the passing game.
Last year, the Tigers rotated Etienne in and out with Adam Choice, who has graduated, and Feaster. Etienne was primarily the first- and second-down guy, while Choice and Feaster were the third-down backs. Their experience and understanding of the offense played a big role as the reasons why.
By the end of the season, once he was 100 percent, Feaster was the primary third-down running back and was usually the second running back to check into the game.
Though Clemson has a lot of talent remaining in its running back room, Feaster’s knowledge and experience will be hard to replace. It makes Clemson’s experienced depth behind Etienne a concern heading into the 2019 football season.