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Stock Report: Duke Week

STOCK UP

Defensive Tackle Josh Watson leads Clemson in quarterback pressures with 10, and has recorded 2 sacks in his last 3 games.

Defensive Tackles
Clemson's 5-headed rotation at defensive tackle began the season as a big question mark, and early in the season those concerns appeared to be justified. However, this group of Josh Watson, Grady Jarrett, DeShawn Williams, DJ Reader and Carlos Watkins has made gradual improvement this season under the guidance of Coach Dan Brooks. While this group is still young and undersized, the ability to use technique is helping them overcome their size limitations and compete with offensive linemen. As a result, the tackles are holding their gaps better, as well as getting more penetration and in general are being more of a force to reckon with inside. The play of the defensive tackles has helped the defense to climb into the upper half of the national rankings in disruptive plays, as the Tiger defense now sits at 58th in sacks and 49th in tackles for loss.

Reserve Running Backs
When Andre Ellington went down with a hamstring injury on the game's opening play, the running game didn't miss a beat as backups DJ Howard, Rod McDowell and Zac Brooks led the Tigers to 339 yards rushing on the night. This trio carried the rock 38 times for 210 yards, which is a nifty 5.5 yards per carry. Even more importantly, the group had no turnovers. None of this group can match Ellington's explosiveness, but these guys didn't embarrass themselves either, playing quite well in a pinch hitting role. With Ellington moving onto the NFL next season, it's good to know Clemson will still have some quality running backs in the stable to compete with the incoming freshman backs.

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STOCK DOWN

Brandon Ford

Ford started off the season as a big piece of the offensive system, hauling in 18 receptions and 4 touchdowns in the season's first five games. Since then, he's managed just 4 receptions and no scores in the last 4 games. To be fair, Ford has been a little banged up and his snaps are down about ten per game over the last month. However, it's a bit surprising he hasn't been targeted more considering his good hands, which are among the best on the team. With that said, backup Sam Cooper has been pushing hard at this position, and has seen his snap totals increase of late.

Stephone Anthony
The former 5-star recruit has lost his starting Mike backer position to junior Spencer Shuey, resulting in a significant drop off in snaps. Anthony was averaging 60 snaps a game over the season's first five games, and only 26 per game in the last four. What accounts for this reduction in playing time? First, Shuey has been playing very well, shoring up the run defense with a more physical style of play than Anthony, who I've always felt was better suited to an outside linebacker spot. To that point, Coach Swinney indicated at this week's press conference that the staff is open to moving Anthony out of the Mike position, but that won't happen until the offseason.

Anthony is still a superior talent that will excel when he finds the proper home, and that will likely be at the Will backer position where he has a good chance to succeed Jonathan Willard next season. Also, it's worth mentioning that Anthony hasn't been terrible this year, and is still second on the team with 61 tackles.

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PLAYERS OF THE WEEK – DUKE GAME

WR DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins collected 4 receptions for 128 yards and 3 touchdowns, and really made it look easy in consistently getting behind the Duke defense. Hopkins did notch a careless fumble on the one reception he had that wasn't a touchdown, but on the night his play was very electric and set the tone early for a prolific Clemson offense.

LB Spencer Shuey
Shuey led the team with 5 solo tackles, and added another 6 assists in continuing his fine play. Among Shuey's highlights were a number of very physical stops on both defense and special teams.

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THE FIRST STRING

NOTE: This is NOT a copy of the depth charted released by the Clemson University SID. Instead, it is the latest projection of where Clemson247 believes the lineup stands -- heading into the next game -- while taking into account info regarding possible suspensions or injuries, Clemson’s main expected defensive formation (ex. base 4-3 or nickel?) and general comments from coaches. Every attempt will be made to identify one projected starter when possible at each position.

Quarterback
Tajh Boyd
Hold on position: Strong
Next in line: Cole Stoudt

Tailback
Andre Ellington (Will be used cautiously against Maryland as he nurses a tweaked hamstring)
Hold on position: Strong
Next in line: Rod McDowell/DJ Howard

H-Back
Darrell Smith
Hold on position: Strong
Next in line: None

Wide Receiver
Sammy Watkins
Hold on position: Strong
Next in line: Adam Humphries

Wide Receiver
Jaron Brown
Hold on position: Moderate
Next in line: Charone Peake

Wide Receiver
Nuk Hopkins
Hold on position: Strong
Next in line: Martavis Bryant

Tight End
Brandon Ford
Hold on position: Moderate
Next in line: Sam Cooper

Center
Dalton Freeman
Hold on position: Strong
Next in line: Ryan Norton

Left Guard
David Beasley
Hold on position: Moderate
Next in line: Ryan Norton/Kalon Davis

Left Tackle
Brandon Thomas
Hold on position: Strong
Next in line: Isaiah Battle

Right Guard
Tyler Shatley
Hold on position: Strong
Next in line: Reid Webster

Right Tackle
Gifford Timothy
Hold on position: Moderate
Next in line: Shaq Anthony

Place-kicker
Chandler Catanzaro
Hold on position: Strong
Next in line: Ammon Lakip/Spencer Benton (Long attempts)

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Nose Guard
Grady Jarrett
Hold on position: Weak
Next in line: DJ Reader

Defensive Tackle
DeShawn Williams
Hold on position: Moderate
Next in line: Josh Watson/Carlos Watkins

Defensive End
Malliciah Goodman
Hold on position: Weak
Next in line: Tavares Barnes

Bandit End
Corey Crawford
Hold on position: Moderate
Next in line: Vic Beasley

Inside Linebacker (MIKE)
Spencer Shuey
Hold on position: Strong
Next in line: Stephone Anthony

Outside Linebacker (WILL)
Jonathan Willard
Hold on position: Strong
Next in line: Corico Wright/Tony Steward

Outside Linebacker (SAM)/Nickel Back
Quandon Christian
Hold on position: Moderate
Next in line: Travis Blanks

Cornerback
Bashaud Breeland
Hold on position: Strong
Next in line: Garry Peters/Dante Stewart

Cornerback
Xavier Brewer
Hold on position: Strong
Next in line: Cortez Davis

Strong Safety
Jonathan Meeks
Hold on position: Strong
Next in line: Robert Smith

Weak Safety
Travis Blanks
Hold on position: Moderate
Next in line: Rashard Hall

Punter
Spencer Benton
Hold on position: Moderate
Next in line: Bradley Pinion

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INACTIVE LIST
(Players who would be listed but are currently expected to miss game)

CB Darius Robinson (Ankle – Out for Regular Season)
LB Justin Parker (Groin – Out for Season)
QB Tony McNeal (Knee – Out for Season)
CB Martin Jenkins (Hip – Out for Season)

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