A Closer Look: Tigers settled early on core group of offensive players

Brandon Thomas, Tajh Boyd, Dalton Freeman all played more than 400 snaps in first half of season

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris praises left tackle Brandon Thomas for his work during the second quarter at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris praises left tackle Brandon Thomas for his work during the second quarter at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.

Although competition is still ongoing for backup positions at some spots, at the midway point of the season Clemson's coaches have settled on a core group of offensive players.

The offensive line has been the most fluid position group on offense, primarily because of injuries.

Clemson started the season with a left-to-right lineup of Brandon Thomas, David Beasley, Dalton Freeman, Tyler Shatley and Gifford Timothy.

Beasley, Shatley and Timothy have all had minor injuries, while Kalon Davis, who was battling Beasley for the starting left guard spot, has missed the past two games.

Thomas leads the offensive front in snaps with 441 in six games, and is followed by Freeman with 424, Shatley with 393, and Timothy with 356.

Shaq Anthony started the Ball State and Furman games in place of Timothy at right tackle, but has otherwise played sparingly.

The one backup who worked in regular rotation during the first half of the season is redshirt freshman Ryan Norton, who has played both center and guard. He has played 140 snaps, so far.

Reid Webster has played three snaps in each of the past two games, while Isaiah Battle, Joe Gore and Spencer Region haven't played from scrimmage since the Furman game. Region has played in the past two games on special teams.

At tight end, Sam Cooper has emerged as Brandon Ford's primary backup. He has played 111 snaps - 45 last Saturday against Georgia Tech - while Ford has played 344. The Tigers are using Stanton Seckinger and Eric Mac Lain in specific personnel groupings, as well as designated fullback Darrell Smith.

DeAndre Hopkins (355 snaps), Jaron Brown (311), Charone Peake (227) and Adam Humphries (184) have formed the core group of wide receivers. Sammy Watkins has played in three of six games and has logged 163 snaps, while Martavis Bryant has missed the last two games because of injury.

At running back, Rod McDowell moved into the No. 2 spot behind Andre Ellington during the first half of the season. He has played 81 snaps so far, for an average of 13.5 per game. D.J. Howard has played in four games for a total of 37 snaps, while first-year freshman Zac Brooks has played only in the Ball State and Furman games.

Likewise, backup quarterback Cole Stoudt got substantial playing time against Ball State and Furman. He played four snaps against Auburn because of Tajh Boyd's helmet problems, and was in for one snap against Florida State.

Boyd has played 436 snaps - second on the team behind Brandon Thomas.

Twenty one offensive players saw action from scrimmage against Georgia Tech last week, while 21 played against Boston College, 22 against FSU, and 21 against Auburn. Against Ball State, 37 players saw action on offense, while 32 played against Furman.

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