First reactions to the rosters for the Orange vs White Spring Game

There are always some intriguing decisions on how Clemson Football splits their roster for the Orange vs White Spring Game. Here are several observations and curiosities for the exhibition this Saturday.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney in a player huddle during Spring practice
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney in a player huddle during Spring practice / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

Clemson Football takes their Orange vs White designations very seriously, but we didn’t learn how the roster and coaching staff would be split until last night.

The Tigers will play their Spring Game this Saturday at 1:00 PM in Death Valley. Admission is free.

Historically, the Tigers tend to split the rosters somewhat evenly, but they have always taken liberty where they thought it made sense. Last spring, they decided to place the first teams opposing each other, with the second teams taking the field when they exited.

Dabo Swinney said it was just a one-time thing, but it appears they will stick with that mindset, at least when it comes to the offenses.

The Orange team will feature the primary starters for the offense, with Cade Klubnik, Phil Mafah, Antonio Williams, and Jake Briningstool.

Garrett Riley will be the head coach for the Orange. The White will feature the second string on offense.

The defenses will mix things up a bit more. While the White will feature key defenders like TJ Parker, Avieon Terrell, and Khalil Barnes, one major name will line up for the Orange. Barrett Carter will line up at linebacker to oppose the White’s offense. They are also putting Shelton Lewis on the Orange to give each team a No. 1 cornerback.

There are, unfortunately, some names on these rosters that we will not get to see on Saturday, the biggest one being Peter Woods. Woods moved to defensive end this spring, and many fans were eager to see how he acclimated to the position. Woods has been dealing with mononucleosis and will sit out for precautionary reasons.

We also won’t get to see Vic Burley, who missed most of last season due to injury. He is dealing with a hamstring issue. Hopefully, he can get healthy for the fall. He is expected to be a key contributor on the defensive line.

Per posts on X from Jon Blau and Justin Robertson, here are the other players who will sit out the Spring Game.

Tyler Brown (foot)

Jay Haynes (hamstring)

Noble Johnson (foot)

Ricardo Jones (foot)

Jeadyn Lukus

Ronan O’Donnell

Walker Parks

Troy Stellato (shoulder)

Cole Turner (abdominal)

Here are some more observations and thoughts on the rosters for the Orange and White squads for the Clemson Football Spring Game

I have heard a lot of speculation on the backup quarterback position, especially on sports radio. Several observers think Trent Pearman is in the hunt to be the backup over Chris Vizzina. I didn’t see that then, and I still don’t see that now. In theory, all three quarterbacks will get equal playing time, but it will be Klubnik and Vizzina who will be going head-to-head, with Pearman switching between the two teams to take some series.

Hunter Sewell will also be a swing player between the two squads, presumably at center. Ryan Linthicum will start for the Orange, and Swinney said if they had to run out for a game right now, he would be the starter. Trent Howard will be the center for the White, and Sewell will probably get time at center and guard during the exhibition.

Four of the presumed starters on the offensive line – Linthicum, Marcus Tate, Tristan Leigh, and Blake Miller – are on the Orange, along with Colin Sadler. I presume Sadler will be the starter at right guard filling in for Parks. Sewell is also a possibility for right guard. My gut tells me right guard might be much more up for grabs this fall than we might have assumed when we heard Parks was returning for one more season.

There are several players out at wide receiver again, but am glad to see that Bryant Wesco was assigned to the Orange offense. I had hoped that the staff would want to promote the connection between Klubnik and Wesco as much as possible.

With the absence of Woods, it will be Cade Denhoff lining up with Parker on the White defense. This will give the trio of Jaheim Lawson, AJ Hoffler, and Zaire Patterson the bulk of the work for the Orange team. Those three will be competing for rotational time this fall.

Another thing worth noting: when spring practices began, Swinney said Caden Story would also be moving to defensive end with Woods. He is listed as a defensive tackle for the White team. The White has nine total defensive linemen, while the Orange has ten, so Story might be repping both positions on Saturday. I just found it interesting that they list him as a tackle instead of his stated position of end.

Swinney says Robert Gunn has a slight edge on freshman Nolan Hauser at this point. Gunn will kick for the Orange and Hauser for the White.

Wes Goodwin will be the head coach for the White squad and freshman Sammy Brown will be on his sideline, along with Wade Woodaz. This is a curious decision, since earlier in the spring we heard that Woodaz would play the middle linebacker position this fall, with Carter at weakside linebacker. The presumption has been that Sammy was likely to rep middle linebacker, so either we got the presumption wrong, or the staff is so comfortable moving Woodaz around that they aren’t worried about him being ‘out of position’ for a spring game. I’m leaning toward the latter.

A position that isn’t spelled out on the released rosters is kick returner. We have heard a lot about Misun ‘Tink’ Kelley this offseason. He will be on the White and I would think he will likely line up for both kickoff and punt returns. I am curious to see who might line up with him on kickoff returns. For the Orange, I think Antonio Williams and Jarvis Green are the most likely returners.

I am also curious to see how much time Corian Gipson might get. He has been recovering from an injury he sustained during his senior season in high school. He wasn’t a full go when spring began, but he isn’t being mentioned as a guy who is out for the game. He has a lot of promise and could be a key guy for the cornerback group this fall.

We might get to see Adam Randall (Orange) lining up against his brother Austin (White) on Saturday. That should be fun.