CLEMSON — There was a lot of excitement from Clemson fans ahead of Saturday’s Orange & White Spring Game at Memorial Stadium, as many thought the game might give a glimpse of what the Clemson offense will look like under new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley.
However, many of the 50,000-plus fans that made the long journey to Clemson got to see very little of Riley’s offense as the Tigers had a very vanilla approach on the offensive side of the football.
The Tigers’ first team offense played for the White and amassed just 313 total yards. The backups, the offense for the Orange squad, did not fair well at all. They totaled just 172 yards.
Combined, the two offenses turned the ball over four times (all interceptions) and were sacked seven times in all.
— Starting center Will Putnam did play in the game. He sat out the game to attend his brother’s wedding.
— Running back Will Shipley also sat the game. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said Shipley sat out due to tendinitis in his knee. Swinney did not indicate which knee it was. The Clemson coach said he has been battling tenderness in his knee for much of the spring.
— With wide receivers Beaux Collins, Adam Randall and Troy Stellato on the shelf, the passing game looked average at best.
— Quarterback Cade Klubnik started the spring by completing eight of his first nine passes. However, he struggled after that, as he finished the day 18-for-33 for 190 yards and two interceptions. He did not throw a touchdown. One of the interceptions came off a good play by the defense, but the other was due a due to a forced pass that led to a 40-yard interception return by Andrew Mukuba. That led to an Orange touchdown.
— It was not just Klubnik that struggled. Hunter Helms, Christopher Vizzina and Trent Pearman combined to complete 14 of 33 passes for 143 yards. Vizzina, the true freshman, threw the two interceptions, including a 22-yard pick-six by freshman Khalil Barnes with 1:36 to play. Barnes’ interception return for a touchdown broke a 13-13 tie.
— The offense did get a couple of big plays from the tight ends. Jake Briningstool caught a 22-yard pass from Klubnik. Josh Sapp had a 24-yard grab from Helms and Sage Ennis had a 19-yard reception. In all, the Clemson tight ends were targeted seven times and caught six of the targets for 103 yards.
— Part of the quarterbacks’ struggles were due to an offensive line that struggled to control Clemson’s defensive front. The running game managed just 151 yards on 66 carries, a 2.29 yards per carry average.
— The offensive lines allowed the defenses to tally 15 tackles for loss, including the seven sacks.
— Kicker Liam Boyd was a bright spot. He made a 51-yard field goal. He also kicked the ball out of the end zone on the ensuing kickoff.
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