The Final Breakdown

CLEMSON - CUTigers.com's Hale McGranahan breaks down Saturday's annual Orange & White game inside of Death Valley.

ORANGE PASSING GAME VS. WHITE SECONDARY, PASS RUSH
Tajh Boyd will quarterback the Orange team with Dwayne Allen, who's poised for a break-out season as the Tigers' go-to tight end in 2010. Jamie Harper, also a solid receiving option, will be lining up in the backfield with Boyd.

If the play calling from the last half of 2009 is any indication, Allen and Harper should be extremely active, especially with an inexperienced quarterback under center.

The spring has been somewhat up and down for Boyd, who gradually improved in the first stadium scrimmage and mostly struggled in the second.

His top three wide receivers on the team are Terrance Ashe, Bryce McNeal and Brandon Clear. In Wednesday's controlled scrimmage, coach Dabo Swinney was impressed with the performances by Clear and McNeal.

The White team's secondary is led by Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell, who's leading for one of this fall's starting cornerback spots. Gilchrist is likely to see a lot of work at safety with Jonathan Meeks. Veteran Michael Wade could split time between White's offense at quarterback and the defense at safety in nickel situations.

With more fall game day experience, White's cornerback group, which also includes Coty Sensabaugh, gets the nod against Orange's wide receivers. Maxwell has the size to matchup with Clear in jump ball situations while Sensabaugh proved to be serviceable in 2009. Plus, there's Gilchrist, the most versatile member of the Clemson secondary.

White linebacker Daniel Andrews will spend most of his day covering Allen while drawing help from the safeties. In the first spring stadium scrimmage, Allen caught the game's first touchdown pass from Boyd.

Though quarterbacks won't be tackled or hit, Boyd will have the luxury of Chris Hairston blocking his blind-side. Hairston will be fending off Andre Branch and Malliciah Goodman, who could be the best two defensive ends at Clemson.

ADVANTAGE: White

WHITE PASSING GAME VS. ORANGE SECONDARY, PASS RUSH
Kyle Parker has yet to play in a stadium scrimmage this spring, but will lead White with Xavier Dye, Marquan Jones and Jaron Brown lining up at wide receiver, the group that could be the starting three receivers this fall. Brandon Ford provides depth and is a serious threat for the jump ball.

If Parker's back in the fall, Wade is the third quarterback. If Parker isn't, Wade's the backup. Either way, he's easily the next best option behind the starters on either side on Saturday.

Andre Ellington and Chad Diehl continue to improve their pass catching skills, though Ellington is a little more polished. At tight end, Parker will have a pair of inexperienced targets in Drew Traylor and Darrell Smith, who was a defensive end to start the spring.

With 14 games already under his belt, Parker gets to face a secondary that's thin at cornerback. Xavier Brewer and former safety Spencer Adams are the top corners on Orange with walk-on Mansa Joseph as the third. Parker should be able to find his three wide receivers in windows.


Kyle Parker will play in his first stadium scrimmage this spring in Saturday's Orange & White game. (Roy Philpott)
But two of the country's 2009 leaders in interceptions (McDaniel and Hall) won't be far behind, daring Parker to challenge them further down field.

Kourtnei Brown, Da'Quan Bowers and Rennie Moore will be coming off the edge with starting right tackle Landon Walker and backup left tackle Brandon Thomas, keeping Parker's back clear. David Smith can play both inside at guard and work at either side at tackle. Both Brown and Bowers have been nicked by injuries this spring. Though their snaps could be limited, Moore has been solid in the stadium scrimmages since he began cross-training and playing at end.

Despite the inexperience at tight end, Parker is comfortable enough in the offense to hit his wide receivers down field. If that group is making catches, White could put together a solid day through the air.

ADVANTAGE: White

ORANGE RUNNING GAME VS. WHITE FRONT SEVEN
Harper will be running behind Hairston and starting right guard Antoine McClain and into starting defensive tackle Brandon Thompson. He'll be up front by Jamie Cumbie and redshirt freshman Tyler Shatley. Throw in Branch and Goodman and that's a solid starting defensive line.

Backing the defensive line are Corico Hawkins and Jonathan Willard, the respective leaders for the starting middle and weak-side linebacker jobs. Willard has been touted as one of the biggest improvements on the defensive side of the ball this spring. The last time Clemson fans saw Hawkins, he was putting on a solid performance against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl.

With starting fullback Chad Diehl playing for White, Orange's running game has a slight disadvantage, compared to White's.

Orange was also on the short end of the split on the offensive line, this time getting only two starters. Matt Sanders, who's in the mix as a reserve and guard and backup center, will spend much of Saturday's game at center with freshman Kalon Davis beside him at left guard. Both are looking to improve their chances for meaningful snaps this fall.

ADVANTAGE: White

WHITE RUNNING GAME VS. ORANGE FRONT SEVEN
Ellington has the luxury of seeing Diehl taking on would be tacklers with the starting right tackle (Walker), starting left guard (Smith) and starting center Dalton Freeman also leading the way. Thomas will line up at left tackle with Smith being versatile enough to play on either side at tackle.

Last year's starter at middle linebacker, Brandon Maye, has also been working at weak-side linebacker this spring. Joining him are redshirt freshmen Spencer Shuey, another candidate for time in the middle, and Quandon Christian, who's pushing for the starting strong-side spot.

Starting defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins will anchor the line with veteran reserve Miguel Chavis and freshman Josh Watson. If Brown and Bowers are in limited roles because of injuries, White has a clear advantage.

ADVANTAGE: White

SPECIAL TEAMS
Starting place kicker Richard Jackson is also capable of handling Orange's punting duties with long snapper Matt Sanders also playing for Orange.

McNeal and McDaniel are options at punt returner and Harper, who's returned kicks in his first two seasons at Clemson, could field kickoffs.

Gilchrist returned a punt for touchdown in the second stadium scrimmage. He might figure to be the best option at either return spot this fall.

Starting punter Dawson Zimmerman is joined by kicking specialists Spencer Benton and Chandler Catanzaro.

PREDICTION: White 24 Orange 17

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