Clemson Spring Game: The End of the Beginning

It’s a date circled in orange on every fan’s calendar. It’s the day, spring game Saturday.

On April 9, at 1pm, in the ‘Football Cathedral of Clemson,’ Death Valley will welcome all. In a few days, fans everywhere will take pause from all of the speculating and ruminating and watch excitedly. It’s a great way to spend a carefree Saturday, watching the 2022 edition of Dabo Swinney’s Tigers and witness the end of the beginning.

With the struggles of last year fading, one catch phrase rings true of this spring practice. Hope springs eternal. With most of the pieces assembled, minus those injured or recovering, there will be a lot to take in. It is a highly anticipated event for all inside the fan base.

Storylines Worth Following

Quarterback

On the top of most lists is getting a look at freshman quarterback Cade Klubnik. The highly recruited and touted young man will get a welcoming in a way that only Death Valley can offer. DJ Uiagalelei also gets his fresh start and hopefully will show what a healthy version of this himself looks like. It should be very interesting.

Center

The offensive line, a much maligned group from last season, is one of the most vital parts of any offense. This one is still evolving. All look forward to seeing continued improvement heading into the summer, then fall camp, paying keen attention towards new center, Will Putnam.

All the talk is that Putnam is doing great, even from Clemson’s head coach himself. As you know, Swinney tends to accentuate the positive, therefore, fans must try and read between the lines.

His assessment of Putnam’s improvement is a firm, maybe. Yes, that’s why this Spring Game is a must see. One has to cut through the coach-speak and see things for themselves. That chance will come next Saturday.

Replacing Brent Venables

Those in attendance will be looking at Wes Goodwin’s defense with hopeful, yet slightly skeptical eyes. The buzz has reverberated throughout the spring.

Who’s In, Who’s Out

Sure, there’s no, Bryan Bresee, Tre’Williams or Tyler Venables, to name a few. Take heart, all of those and more should be ready by fall camp. In the spring game, questions might not be completely answered but I suspect, there will be enough to see to be extremely excited.

At running back, Phil Mafah has had the spring all to himself and has reportedly flourished. Will Shipley has been back at practice in green, taking part in some individual drills, but isn’t expected to play. Neither is Kobe Pace.

Replacing Will Spiers

Normally, few ever invest too much interest, nor focus on special teams It’s sometimes the forgotten group. Swinney is going to, for the first time in a while, have to replace a punter, as six year veteran Will Spiers has moved on. BT Potter, Aidan Swanson and freshman Jackson Smith have been battling for the job.

New Faces In New Places

Finally, with so much change within the staff, it should be interesting just to watch the sidelines. You can except there will be a few new faces, different personalities and a few new twists. Don’t fret it’s likely there won’t be wholesale, sweeping change on either side of the ball. Why fix what’s not broken, right?

Next Saturday, Death Valley will be a happy place. A place in transition, on and off the field. The east end, where the Hill is located, is under construction with a new video board going up. This something that is long overdue and will change that end of the stadium drastically. Some sections in the West End Zone will be closed off as well.

However, if none of the above mentioned entices you, just the thought of spending an afternoon in God’s Country almost justifies the travel. And yes, even factoring in the cost of the gas.

This Saturday marks the end of the beginning for the 2022 edition of Clemson football. Most fans can hardly wait.

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