SPRING GAME: What to watch

CLEMSON — The Annual Orange and White game at Clemson's Death Valley is upon us once again.

Spring game roster

Since the media has had the pleasure of watching Clemson's two major scrimmages this spring, it has given us somewhat of an insight into what fans should try to watch for in Saturday's 1 p.m. game.

Of course, the quarterback battle will be the first thing fans want to examine.

Keep in mind regardless of what happens Saturday, the starting quarterback will not be determined off of what happens in a spring game. But the way head coach Dabo Swinney split his roster up, fans will be able to get an idea of what they can expect if Willy Korn or Kyle Parker is the starting quarterback next fall. I think you will notice that both quarterbacks are field generals that demand the respect of the offense when they are out there.

It will be important to watch all of the important aspects of the quarterback position - including pocket presence, mobility, touch and arm strength. From what I have seen to this point, Parker seems to have a little bit better pocket presence and arm strength, while Korn is more mobile and has better touch.

One thing you should not take away from this is Korn's throwing motion. He is still trying to get that back after shoulder and collarbone surgery in the winter. His throwing motion is a little unorthodox right now, but by the time summer gets here, with the off-season plan Billy Napier will have for him, that should be much improved. In fact, it has already improved some since spring practice started.

The offensive line is another thing to watch, but with squads being split up how they are, it is going to be too hard to get an accurate account of what improvements and strides have been made up front. One thing to keep an eye on, however, is the three-point stance.

The guards will be in one the majority of the time except for third-and-long and two minute drill situations. The tackles are in three-point stance 50 percent of the time depending on the formation. Swinney has made it a point that he wanted his offensive line to become more physical and this move will go a long way in accomplishing that.

Other players to keep an eye on up front will be centers Mason Cloy and Dalton Freeman. This is one of the better battles of the spring and Freeman has really been impressive to this point. Two others will be Landon Walker and Cory Lambert at right tackle. Again, another interesting battle that will not be decided until the fall.

Also watch for freshman tackle J.K. Jay. He is still behind somewhat in learning the offense, but this true freshman likes to get his nose in there and battle with the rest of them. He will be fun to watch for the next four seasons.

The wide receiver battles should be good to watch Saturday as well. Xavier Dye and Marquan Jones have become more consistent this spring, while Jaron Brown and Brandon Ford have made huge strides.

Ford has been the guy on the rise this spring and in the last week. He followed last week's impressive scrimmage with a very good week of practice. Another guy that has had a good spring has been Terrance Ashe.

Besides quarterback, the battle to see who will be the next placekicker has been the most interesting one of the spring. After both kickers got off to rough starts, Spencer Benton picked things up and appeared to be the frontrunner after a couple of consistent weeks of practice.

However, Benton has had a rough last week and Richard Jackson has improved so really neither one will know anything more about their chances than they did at the start of the spring. The thing both of them can take into the summer workouts is that they made huge strides and improved tremendously.

One of the things, or person I should say, to watch for on the defensive side is Da'Quan Bowers. No one has really been able to block him this spring. Believe it or not, he has gotten stronger and looks a little faster to me. Plus he has made some strides on his techniques and isn't taking himself out of plays as much. His football instincts are some of the best I have seen.

As for the No. 1 concern on defense, the safety position seems to be in better shape than expected. DeAndre McDaniel has locked down the strong safety position, while right now there still seems to be a question of who will be at free safety, though I think it will be Sadat Chambers' job to lose in the fall. Chambers has had a better overall spring than Rashard Hall, especially in the last two weeks.

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