CLEMSON - Ten points to ponder from the beat writer on Clemson's summer two-deep, released today by head coach Dabo Swinney:
1) What does it mean that senior D.J. Howard's the starting running back - for now? Hard to say. If Zac Brooks is healthy, he'd seem to make the most sense as at least a two-down back. C.J. Davidson's a good change of pace. Wayne Gallman's got the brightest future. And I've heard it inferred Tyshon Dye could have started over Roderick McDowell in 2013 had he been healthy - that's a "hindsight is 20-20" statement, but there you go. So hey, if Howard presents the best versatility as a runner and blocker, maybe he takes the gig and runs with it the way McDowell did in 2013 - even though McDowell had the benefit of Tajh Boyd's dual threat ability. At any rate, those five tailbacks can probably expect to log somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 carries in 2014 - that is, if offensive coordinator Chad Morris is serious about re-establishing the run and not necessarily forcing quarterback Cole Stoudt to handle short-yardage duties.
2) For all the progress Jordan Leggett has purportedly made (not to mention his comfort level with Stoudt), and Stanton Seckinger's improvement as a blocker to go along with his catching ability, consider me reasonably surprised the current starting tight end is Sam Cooper. Great team leader, but I wonder if he'll end up a Darrell Smith-type figure this year, where his impact is made more in practice than games.
3) A bold prediction gone four ways: Mike Williams leads the 2014 Tigers in receiving yards. Adam Humphries leads in receptions. Charone Peake leads in touchdowns. Two of the four younger backup receivers - sophomore Germone Hopper and freshmen Artavis Scott, Demarre Kitt, Kyrin Priester - combine for 40 catches and five scores, while the other two either get hurt, redshirted or lost in the mix. (Just don't ask me which two.)
4) Shaq Anthony is listed as Isaiah Battle's backup at left tackle. He's also scrumming with Joe Gore to bookend Battle at right tackle. There's a total dearth of depth on the edges right now, and that's going to concern Swinney, Morris and OL coach Robbie Caldwell all the way through camp. No position can afford injury less than offensive tackle.
5) "He's starting at corner right now. If we played today, he and Mackensie would be our two starting corners." Those were the words Swinney said April 7 about Mackensie Alexander and . Cordrea Tankersley. There's Tankersley listed as starting opposite the highly-touted Alexander, with a couple of seniors Garry Peters and Martin Jenkins scrounging for playing time.
6) Clemson's nine defensive linemen on the two-deep have combined for 266 games, 91 starts, and 44 sacks. Vic Beasley owns 21 of those sacks. Tavaris Barnes, the talk of the spring, has two.
7) Keep your eye on Tony Steward vs. Ben Boulware at weak-side linebacker, replacing Spencer Shuey. The longtime potential guy ravaged by injury vs. the hard-hitting younger brother of Clemson baseball captain Garrett Boulware.
8) T.J. Green made the only major positional switch, and the former receiver/returner has earned the No. 2 strong safety nod behind Robert Smith.
9) Career snap leaders: LB Stephone Anthony 1,553, DE Corey Crawford 1,396, WR Adam Humphries 1,328, OG David Beasley 1,227, C Ryan Norton 1,118, DT Grady Jarrett 1,112, LB/S Travis Blanks 1,038.
10) Last year's Orange Bowl depth chart included 48 names on offense or defense, and eight were seniors. Today's 2014 depth chart includes 51 names on offense or defense, and 18 are seniors.
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