Five things we learned about the Clemson offense from the spring game

Clemson fans flocked to Memorial Stadium this past Saturday for the first time since the fall to watch the new-look Clemson football team in their annual spring game. Here are five things that we learned from the scrimmage.

Bryant Wesco Jr. is the real deal

I mean we all expected it, right?

A four-star recruit from Midlothian, Texas, Wesco was one of many mid-year enrollees who joined the Tigers in the spring semester. With the absences of receivers like Cole Turner, Tyler Brown and Troy Stellato in the scrimmage with injuries, Wesco was able to have more opportunities at the position. 

The freshman delivered. Wesco would finish with three catches for 26 yards, scoring a touchdown for Team Orange.  His touchdown would be the first highlight of the spring game, grabbing a back-shoulder pass from quarterback Trent Pearman with his left hand over cornerback Austin Randall to score the first touchdown of the scrimmage. 

Now that we have seen the freshman in action, it is now only a matter of time until we see Wesco in the fall, hoping to see more of those highlight reel plays when the season commences in Atlanta on Aug. 31. 

While head coach Dabo Swinney liked what he saw from the Clemson standout, he reminded the media that there is still a long way to go before the Tigers kick off their season. 

“He has definitely put himself in a position to help us,” Swinney said. “[He’s] got to have a big summer. It’s a long season.”

Cade Klubnik’s QB1 job is safe

One thing that I said was important to watch before the spring game last week was to see the competition between quarterbacks. While I was looking for the talent gap between quarterbacks Cade Klubnik and Christopher Vizzina, the performance by quarterback Trent Pearman in the spring game was the competition I was least expecting. 

On paper, Pearman had the best game and stole the show in the spring game, throwing for 141 yards and a touchdown while rushing for a 49-yard touchdown as well. Playing for both teams in Saturday’s scrimmage, the redshirt sophomore had a great day that improved his chances of playing during the regular season next year. 

People heard a lot about Christopher Vizzina as well, who did not have the best outing on Saturday, throwing two interceptions with a third called back due to an offsides call before the play. The redshirt freshman would finish with 108 yards. 

The gap is large enough that I believe Cade Klubnik will be the consensus starter throughout the season, who brushed off an early interception and threw for 158 yards for Team Orange. 

While the numbers did not jump off of the page, Swinney loved what he saw from his starting quarterback in terms of situational awareness, something that Klubnik has struggled with in his first full season as a starter. 

“I’m proud of him,” Swinney said. “He has been good all spring, so just getting better and better and I think you will see a lot of progression. Still a lot of work to do, though.”

However the quarterback depth chart stacks up entering the season, depending on how you stack up Pearman’s performance with Vizzina’s talent and other factors, one thing is certain: Cade Klubnik is the best quarterback that Clemson has this season. However, it will be interesting to see how much play time Pearman gets next season. 

The center battle will be going into the summer

One of the only contested starting positions for the Tigers next season is the center, who saw the loss of Will Putnam following a memorable career. With mainly three guys playing the center position during the spring game, Ryan Linthicum, Trent Howard and Harris Sewell,  this competition will be one that will continue heading into the summer. 

Linthicum began the day on Team Orange, marking him as the starting guy while playing with the rest of the expected offensive line starters. However, on the third drive, the redshirt junior would be helped off the field by trainers.

After the game, Swinney said that nobody had said anything bad about the center’s injury, hoping he would be good for the summer. 

After Linthicum’s injury, Swinney shuffled the teams a little bit and sent Sewell to Team Orange in place of Linthicum, where he would play for the remainder of the game. 

While we did see a little bit of everything at this position, it is safe to say that Swinney has not made a decision yet on his top guy to lead the offensive line. The answer will be delayed until the summer when we should find out our answer during those sessions of practice. 

This could be one of the best receiver groups that Clemson has had in a while

In addition to Wesco’s exciting day, there were plenty of Tigers that made great plays throughout the spring scrimmage, gaining excitement for the amount of weapons that Klubnik has for next season. 

The first is Antonio Williams, who missed the majority of last season with a toe and a foot injury, which allowed him to redshirt. The redshirt sophomore bounced back nicely, catching five passes for 62 yards. 41 of those yards were earned after the catch, which is something that Williams has been good at since joining Clemson in 2022. 

Adam Randall had a great day as well, recording a game-high 85 yards off of four catches. The junior caught a 55-yard pass from Klubnik to make another exciting play on Saturday. 

With Brown, Stellato and Turner all still out as well, Saturday’s performances were only a sample size of what the potential lineups could be for next season. Add in incoming five-star freshman TJ Moore, and it is an embarrassment of riches for wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham and offensive coordinator Garrett Riley. 

The running back depth is impressive

Without starting running back Phil Mafah playing on Saturday, fans saw six different running backs have their number called on Saturday, who all made a play at one point in the game. 

Expected backup Keith Adams Jr. started as the top back for Team White, making a great play on a screen for a 13-yard first down play. 

“Keith Adams has had an awesome spring for us,” Swinney said. “He made a little play today on a screen. . . those are the things that are good to see from him.”

The redshirt sophomore did go down with an injury in the game, but Swinney said that it should be nothing serious. 

With the absence of running back Jay Haynes as well, he allowed for a lot more backups to get touches as well. Redshirt freshman Jarvis Green would record 29 yards on the ground. Another redshirt, Peyton Streko, would find the end zone for Team Orange. Mid-year enrollee David Eziomume would get touches as well, something that Swinney wanted to see entering Saturday’s scrimmage. 

Like the wide receiver group, a healthy offensive line would grant any of these running backs success. Without the presence of Phil Mafah in the backfield on Saturday, fans were able to see the talented tailbacks that the Tigers have behind the standout. 

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