What to watch: offense

CLEMSON - CUTigers takes a quick look at the offensive position battles that will surely be topics of discussion throughout the upcoming weeks.

QUARTERBACK: Anytime a starting quarterback hasn't been named entering the start of preseason camp, it's going to be the most talked about position battle, period. It's well known that Clemson is looking at two, if not four players for the position.

Much of the debate that goes back as far as last season and could last well into this season has been focused around Kyle Parker and Willy Korn. Tajh Boyd could be in the mix, assuming he's healthy enough to compete and Coach Dabo Swinney also hasn't ruled out Michael Wade either. Korn, however, is the only one with game experience at Clemson.

At his media golf outing, Swinney joked the starter against Middle Tennessee could be named by a coin toss. Repetitions on first team will be split amongst the four until candidates begin to separate themselves from the pack.

"We've got a lot of inexperience there and it's the most important position on the field," he said.

Could this be the first year Clemson utilizes a two-quarterback system?

WIDE RECEIVER: After quarterback, the wide receiver position has a lot of promising young players but little experience. With the loss of Aaron Kelly and Tyler Grisham to graduation, the Tiger receiving corps has only one established player in Jacoby Ford. Xavier Dye and Marquan Jones are the only with any college catches with 10 and three, respectively. The pool of players that are also expected will compete for playing time includes Terrance Ashe, Jaron Brown, Brandon Ford and freshman Bryce McNeal.

Who emerges at this point is anybody's guess but it's clear somebody will to help ease the pressure off a first-year starter at quarterback.

Brandon Ford (pictured above), Jaron Brown and a host of other young receivers will be tested throughout preseason camp this year.
KICKER: Don't forget that Spencer Benton and Richard Jackson will compete for kicking duties. Both were highly touted out of high school but neither has attempted a field goal at Clemson. A red-shirt last year, Benton was named the most improved kicker at spring practice last year. In 2007, Jackson was good on two extra points and also kicked off twice last year.

"The kicking situation, field goals, extra points and the kickoffs with Spencer Benton and Richard Jackson is thing I'm most anxious about. Its points, they could be the difference between winning and losing," Swinney said.

RIGHT TACKLE: Swinney said his biggest concern is the right tackle position because, "it's up for grabs."

"At right tackle, Landon (Walker) has a lot of starts under his belt. I feel much better about him now than at this time last year when he didn't have a clue what he was getting into," Swinney said. "Cory Lambert has shown some signs. This is it. This is his last year. He's shown some signs that he wants to compete. He could have a good senior season. J.K. (Jay) has shown us that he's got potential to play this year."

RUNNING BACK: Heisman Trophy candidate CJ Spiller is obviously going to see the bulk of the carries this year but the big question after that will be who else gets his hands on the ball?

Of course the two candidates are Jamie Harper, who had 34 carries in 2008 and Andre Ellington, who will finally see the field after red-shirting last season ... but who gets more carries?

Harper should step in as the power back now that James Davis is gone, but Ellington had a tremendous off-season and was recently named by Swinney as the most productive player of spring ball.

By the time it's all said and done, they all should get significant reps.

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