When Trenton Simpson was thrown out for targeting late in the second quarter of last week’s win over Georgia Tech, he was replaced in the lineup by Malcolm Greene.
Simpson stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 230 pounds. He is the Tigers’ strongside linebacker or SAM backer, as it is commonly referred to. Greene is 5-foot-10 and weighs 190 pounds. He is commonly known as a nickel back.
When Greene replaced Simpson in the lineup, the Tigers replaced its strongside backer with a defensive back. At that point, Simpson, who recorded five tackles, played in all 22 of the Yellow Jackets’ snaps, which made sense based off the Yellow Jackets’ scheme and personnel.
But once Simpson was forced to leave the game, it left No. 9 Clemson without its SAM backer. Though Greene is a talented player, his size limits him in certain situations, especially when trying to stop the run.
Eventually, Greene had to leave the game because he was banged up, leaving the Tigers with defensive back Tyler Venables (5-10, 200) and freshman linebacker Barrett Carter.
Of the reserve players in this situation, Carter (6-1, 225) is the only one who can be called a true SAM linebacker.
What does Saturday’s situation mean for the Tigers going forward? It means they have to have Carter ready, especially as they get set to play NC State this Saturday in Raleigh, N.C.
“Yeah, and he is ready,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said.
Carter might have been ready, but he played just three snaps in the game, while Venables played 11 and had three tackles. Greene had three tackles, as well, on 46 snaps, prior to getting banged up.
“Malcolm played a lot of snaps and got banged up as well. And then just fresh legs, man. It was a long game and an emotional game,” Swinney said. “Just had to have fresh legs out there in a couple of those moments.
“Barrett is going to be a great player. He is super explosive and a very instinctive player. I think eventually he will play inside before it is all said and done.”
Until then, the Tigers have to have him ready to play SAM.