As the No. 3 Clemson Tigers get set to face off against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, it’s important to not only underestimate the opponent, but to also keep an eye out week to week for players to step up and establish themselves on the field. After all, that is the best place to make your case. And against Wake Forest, there will be some interesting players to keep an eye on as the Tigers return home:
DE Vic Beasley: A rising name in the defensive end community, Beasley has made life difficult for opposing quarterbacks in the first three weeks, notching five sacks over the Tigers’ first three games, including two against Georgia in the season opener and three in the Tigers latest victory over NC State.
Beasley lead the team with eight last season as a rotational player, and has picked up right where he left off. Despite being undersized for a defensive end at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, Beasley makes great use of his leverage and athleticism against opposing offensive tackles.
The junior will steadily start to become more of a factor for opposing offenses, and he can expect to possibly have more double teams from tight ends and running backs coming his way. Beasley’s pass-rushing ability gives a spark to the Tigers’ defensive line that it didn’t have a season ago.
DE Shaq Lawson: Lawson has steadily become a part of the regular rotation and seen his playing time increase these first three weeks. At 6-foot-3, 270 pounds, Lawson has both the size and ability to continue Clemson’s long line of pass rushers.
Lawson got his first career sack against the Wolfpack in the Tigers’ first Thursday night opener, and totaled 2.5 tackles for loss. While Lawson is still a raw prospect, he is learning and continuing to develop along the Tigers’ defensive line as he continues to get more opportunities on the field, especially on passing downs.
WR Mike Williams: With starting receiver Martavis Bryant on a reduced snap count due to his throat slashing gesture after his second touchdown during the NC State game, true freshman Mike Williams will have more looks out of his primary backup position behind Bryant.
At a solid 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Williams is a good target and mismatch on the outside. In terms of his body type, Williams has drawn comparisons to former Clemson receiver Deandre Hopkins, but with more speed than the former All-ACC receiver. With limited snaps behind Bryant, Williams has three receptions for 43 yards thus far, and has displayed solid hands catching the football.
With the loss of Charone Peake, Williams has the opportunity to establish himself in a deep receiving corps behind Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant, Adam Humphries and Germone Hopper.
RT Shaq Anthony: With starter Gifford Timothy out for the Wake Forest game due to a concussion sustained against NC State, the sophomore tackle will make his first career start at right tackle. Anthony replaced Timothy against the Wolfpack when Timothy struggled early, and held up well in the running game and in pass protection.
Anthony is an athletic tackle, and a solid performance could mean a little more intrigue along the offensive line, especially if Timothy has to miss more time with his concussion.