Monday Morning Quarterback
Clemson will begin Spring practice on Wednesday behind the Allen Reeves Football Complex in Clemson.
For the first time in three years, there will be no Trevor Lawrence. For the first time in four years, there will be no Travis Etienne. There will also be no Amari Rodgers or Cornell Powell.
The offensive line will not have Jackson Carman or Cade Stewart.
In other words, the Tigers will be without a lot of guys on offense that helped them win one national championship and play for another in the last four years. But that is life in college football. No matter what, rosters are going to change, players are going to graduate, leave early to play pro football or transfer to another school.
This Spring will be an interesting one for Dabo Swinney’s program. Not only do they have to replace several superstar players, but there were some shakeups on the coaching staff too.
Tony Elliott is now coaching the tight ends, while C.J. Spiller is the new running backs coach. Former tight ends coach Danny Pearman has moved into an analyst role. There are also several new analyst and graduate assistants on staff, as well.
Though Swinney is still in charge, Brent Venables is running the defense and Elliott is running things on offense, it has been a while since Clemson has had this much moving around on its coaching staff.
But change is inevitable in college football and how a program adjusts to change dictates how it stands the test of time.
Few programs have adjusted to change as well as Clemson has the last 10 years. But nonetheless, this Spring will be the beginning of another journey as the Tigers try to make it back to the College Football Playoff for an unprecedented seventh consecutive season.
With Lawrence and Etienne moving on to the NFL, D.J. Uiagalelei becomes the new face of the program. How will he handle his new role?
Justyn Ross returns after missing all of 2020 due to spinal surgery. How much will he do in practice? With Elliott coaching the tight ends, will Braden Galloway and Davis Allen become serious weapons for the offense?
Also, how hungry will receivers Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson be after spending much of the 2020 season on the sideline nursing injuries?
Can Ryan Linthicum come in and take the starting job at center from veterans Mason Trotter and Hunter Rayburn? Who wins the job at left tackle between Jordan McFadden and Walker Parks?
On defense, how much will the Tigers miss Mike Jones’ leadership?
Not all of these questions will be answered over the next 15 Spring practices. However, these next five weeks will tell us a lot on how well the program has adjusted to change. Something it has not done much in the last four or five years.
Oh, by the way, they still have the pandemic to deal with too.
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