Clemson Football: Why Kendall Joseph is moving to Middle Linebacker

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 02: Kendall Joseph
CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 02: Kendall Joseph /

One of the biggest surprises on Clemson football’s summer depth chart was the movement of Kendall Joseph to MIKE linebacker. Here’s why that move may have been done.

One of Clemson football’s biggest defensive leaders in 2018 will be linebacker Kendall Joseph.

Joseph made the decision to return to school for his graduate season despite many thoughts that he would try his hand at the NFL Draft.

It’s no surprise to see him as a starter on the Clemson football summer depth, that was released a couple of weeks ago.

What was surprising, though, was seeing that he had a made, at least a minor, position change. Instead of being placed at the WILL spot, like we thought he would, Joseph was moved to the MIKE (middle) linebacker.

So, it brings up the question: Why?

Middle Linebacker…

Tre Lamar, who had a solid season last year, is now listed as Joseph’s backup. You wouldn’t think of Lamar being a second-string guy, but according to the depth chart he is.

So, why did this happen?

I don’t think it has anything to do with Lamar’s role being downplayed. I think Tre Lamar is going to get many snaps, but I think it has more to do with the makeup of this defense.

Answer these questions: Where is the strength of the defense? Weakness?

If you answered “defensive line” for strength and “defensive backfield” as weakness, you are correct. I think the Clemson football coaching staff is looking for a way to get more athleticism on the field to do with the passing game.

Isaiah Simmons has moved to the SAM (strong-side) linebacker. Moving Joseph to the middle gives you more athleticism, at least in pass coverage. Tre Lamar is more of a hard-nose run-stuffer. He will still get his snaps, but when you have the front that Clemson already has, you have to be more focused on stopping the pass.

You have to figure that the front-four are going to get pressure and plug the run holes. What you want to be able to do is compete with teams that spread the ball out and moving Joseph over to MIKE does just that.

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We will see how they rotate, but I know that we will still see plenty of Tre Lamar and this decision may just make the defense deeper and more prepared as a result.