News broke yesterday at Dabo Swinney’s spring practice press conference that four Clemson players would be suspended for the season opener: Corey Crawford, David Beasley, Shaq Anthony, and Garry Peters.
This is a blow for the Tigers, as all four players are either starters or contenders for a starting spot. Each player’s absence will surely be felt by the team, but there is one guy that stands out because of inexperience and depth at the position.
Garry Peters, Cornerback
This is the suspension that will probably most affect the Tigers. Clemson loses Darius Robinson to graduation and Bashaud Breeland opted to enter the draft, so depth at defensive back is thin. They have a lot of players, just not a lot of experience.
Korrin Wiggins played some corner last season, but he is expected to take over at NICKEL-SAM, where Quandon Christian played last season. He is a possibility to see some action at corner in the Georgia game. Martin Jenkins is a solid player, but injury concerns are always a worry with him.
There are some young guys that will have to step up at defensive back like Mackenzie Alexander, Adrian Baker, and Ryan Carter. Young players at safety such as Jadar Johnson and Cordrea Tankersley could also be possibilities to fill in at corner some. Peters is a guy that brings experience, so the development of these young players will be important during the summer.
Corey Crawford, Defensive End
Crawford had three sacks in 12 starts for the Tigers last season. He will surely be missed against the Bulldogs, but the Tigers have depth at defensive end to make up for him. Vic Beasley and Shaq Lawson will likely be the starters for the season opener, with Ebenezer Ogundeko and Tavaris Barnes serving as back-ups. Martin Aiken would also likely be in the mix for playing time.
Clemson has enough depth at end to get by in the Georgia game, as Shaq Lawson was solid last season with four sacks. Also, defensive tackles Grady Jarrett, D.J. Reader, and DeShawn Williams will help with the pass rush.
David Beasley, Offensive Guard
According to TigerNet, Swinney stated in yesterday’s presser that Beasley would not have been the starter going into spring ball because he needs to “refocus”. The rising senior started seven games for the Tigers last season, and would likely be in contention for his starting spot back by summer.
This is certainly a loss in terms of depth at the position, but the coaching staff seems to be high on Eric Mac Lain. TigerNet also reported that Dabo said Mac Lain would be the starter at right guard and Kalon Davis would be at right tackle for spring practice.
Shaq Anthony, Offensive Tackle
Anthony started three games at right tackle for Swinney’s squad last season. This is the same situation as Beasley; he wouldn’t be a guaranteed starter, but would be in contention for a spot.
Kalon Davis and Isaiah Battle will be the spring starters at tackle, and it’s safe to say they have a good chance of keeping the spots.