Post-spring Grades

CLEMSON – After each game during the regular season, handed down a list of grades that reflected that unit's performance. Here are the grades for post-spring as the team shuts it down until the first week of August.

Of course, all grades are subject to change when fall camp starts depending who is still on the roster.

OFFENSE: B- The only real concern here is the offensive line, which still has the potential to be a major issue next season. If the offensive line can just be average or slightly above, then the offense looks to have all the necessary weapons to be much more productive than what we all saw last year over the second half of the season.

The receivers are cbetter, the running backs are better and all indications are the play at quarterback is going to be much better. But it all boils down to the play up front. If Clemson's offensive line can block and more importantly protect, then quarterback Cullen Harper should be just fine. There's a very noticeable difference between what he has done in the spring compared to what was happening at this same time last year.

But if the line can't do its job, it won't matter who the tailbacks are and who is calling the signals because they'll be running for their respective lives. As of now, there are only two sure things with the line: left tackle Barry Richardson and right guard Thomas Austin will be just fine. Everyone else is still a question mark.

DEFENSE: B- The interior defensive line has stood out, as have some of those in the secondary. The linebackers remain a major question, but assuming Tremaine Billie can gain his eligibility and Nick Watkins stays eligible and Antonio Clay returns healthy, then this could be a special defense.

The only question up front is the play of Bandit Ricky Sapp. It will be interesting to see how he does as an every-down player going against starting tackles as opposed to backups. Sapp has been challenged this spring and has his moments- both good and not so good.

The secondary has been a pleasant surprise for head coach Tommy Bowden and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. The play of safety DeAndre McDaniel and cornerback Byron Maxwell really has the coaches salivating for what the future holds. Both could easily be starting when Florida State comes to town in the season opener. It is a very young secondary, but Koenning likes the way they seem to grasp what they're supposed to do.

But it all comes back to the linebackers. There could be three veterans starting or none. There are going to be some anxious months for Koenning and Bowden the next few months and all they can do is sit and wait.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C This grade is more for the kicking game than anything else. It's not sure if the punt return or kickoff return games will be any better. But as far as punting, kickoffs and placekicking are concerned, they seem to be about average right now. Not too great and not too bad.

As spring camp breaks, Jimmy Maners appears to have the punting job wrapped up. Only a poor August will prevent him for being the punter. Placekicking is another story.

Following the spring game, Mark Buchholz left as the leader there over Richard Jackson. Buchholz is also the leader for handling the kickoff duties. But both races are so tight between Buchholz and Jackson that the pecking order could change in a moment's notice. Top Stories