Who Got The Snaps? Tigers reap future-building bonus in rout of Virginia Tech

Young players get significant snaps against top-tier opponent; six defenders mark new season highs

Clemson defensive end Corey Crawford (93) pursues Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas (3) in the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

Clemson defensive end Corey Crawford (93) pursues Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas (3) in the ACC Championship game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.

An ACC championship – Clemson’s first in 20 years.

A trip back to the Orange Bowl – Clemson’s first in three decades.

A badly-needed turnaround from a late-season slide that has Dabo Swinney’s building program back on track.

A slew of new school records in the offensive playmaking department.

Those were among the Tigers’ headline accomplishments Saturday night in Charlotte.

Beneath the surface of a game that unexpectedly turned into a rout before the end of third quarter was a bonus: significant playing time against an elite, nationally third-ranked opponent for a group of young players who’ll be carrying a much larger portion of Clemson’s offensive and defensive load in 2012.

Take redshirt freshmen defensive linemen Vic Beasley and Josh Watson, for example.

Beasley, the Tigers’ fifth defensive end, had played just six snaps from scrimmage during the course of the season, and hadn’t appeared in a game in any role since the North Carolina game. He got 10 snaps against Virginia Tech – a significant head-start as he tries to make his move to defensive end a permanent one.

Watson, likewise, played only occasionally during the course of the regular season – just nine snaps in 12 games. He matched that total by playing a season-high nine snaps against the Hokies.

Fellow defensive tackles Grad Jarrett and Tavaris Barnes combined for 22 snaps in the championship game. Coming into the contest they had played just 88 snaps, combined, all season.

On the offensive side of the ball, the entire second offensive line got seven snaps, while backup quarterback Cole Stoudt appeared in his fifth game of the season.

Two first-year freshmen defensive players – linebacker Stephone Anthony and defensive tackle DeShawn Williams – continue to grab an increasing share of snaps at their positions. Anthony started his third straight game and played a season-high 34 snaps, while Williams played a season-high 20 snaps – third at his position behind Rennie Moore and Brandon Thompson.

Also logging a season high in snaps were defensive ends Corey Crawford (33) and Kourtnei Brown (31), and defensive backs Bashaud Breeland and Rashard Hall (both with 74).

Back on the field for the first time since the Georgia Tech game was defensive back Darius Robinson, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury.

Following is a breakdown of Clemson’s player participation against Virginia Tech, with total season snaps in parentheses:

Offense (31)

Tight End (4): Dwayne Allen 56 (829), Brandon Ford 15 (201), Sam Cooper 5 (52), Drew Traylor 2 (3)

Wide Receiver (9): DeAndre Hopkins 57 (694), Sammy Watkins 54 (606), Jaron Brown 44 (582), Martavis Bryant 15 (183), Charone Peake 13 (213), Marquan Jones 9 (99), Adam Humphries 8 (244), Joe Craig 5 (39), Will Harrison 3 (9)

Running Back (3): Andre Ellington 60 (694), D.J. Howard 13 (140), Rod McDowell 4 (38)

Quarterback (2): Tajh Boyd 67 (928), Cole Stoudt 6 (65)

Fullback (1): Chad Diehl 14 (137)

Offensive Line (12): Dalton Freeman 68 (975), Landon Walker 68 (967), Brandon Thomas 68 (702), Antoine McClain 62 (855), Phillip Price 44 (777), David Smith 16 (394), Mason Cloy 14 (174), David Beasley 7 (24), Kalon Davis 7 (35), Gifford Timothy 7 (36), Matt Sanders 7 (25), Reid Webster 7 (27)

Defense (30)

Linebacker (7): Corico Hawkins 38 (653), Stephone Anthony 34 (247), Tig Willard 26 (614), Quandon Christian 25 (402), Justin Parker 4 (33), Daniel Andrews 4 (28), Spencer Shuey 2 (48)

Defensive End (5): Malliciah Goodman 47 (714), Andre Branch 47 (698), Corey Crawford 33 (220), Kourtnei Brown 31 (232), Vic Beasley 10 (16)

Defensive Tackle (7): Rennie Moore 42 (669), Brandon Thompson 36 (669), DeShawn Williams 20 (114), Tyler Shatley 18 (300), Grady Jarrett 12 (52), Tavaris Barnes 10 (58), Josh Watson 9 (18)

Defensive Back (11): Coty Sensabaugh 74 (904), Bashaud Breeland 74 (561), Rashard Hall 74 (714), Xavier Brewer 61 (682), Martin Jenkins 44 (257), Jonathan Meeks 43 (664), Carlton Lewis 29 (136), Darius Robinson 4 (323), Robert Smith 4 (53), Kantrell Brown 4 (43), Garry Peters 4 (12)

Special Teams Only (8): Spencer Benton, Chandler Catanzaro, Phillip Fajgenbaum, Mansa Joseph, Darrell Smith, Michael Sobeski, Lateek Townsend, Dawson Zimmerman

Did Not Play: Mike Bellamy (suspended), Tony Steward (injured), Tra Thomas

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