Clemson vs Furman:
When Furman quarterback Harris Roberts takes his team’s first snap at Clemson on Saturday, it will be his first as a starter in a college football game.
Roberts – now known far and wide as the Furman quarterback who is a full-time student at Clemson – was officially named the starter Thursday.
Had one of the other three quarterbacks competing for the job been named the starter, that first snap would have been his first play in a college football game.
The Paladins will enter Death Valley against the No. 2-ranked Tigers with a decidedly inexperienced crew of quarterbacks, at least from the standpoint of actual game action. Quarterback really is the only position where the Paladins don’t have experienced players, even though the team has only 11 seniors.
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Roberts, a redshirt senior, is the most experienced of the quarterbacks, though that amounts to brief action in six games — one in 2016, five in 2017. He also sustained a hand injury during August preparations, interrupting his pursuit of the starting job.
Redshirt freshman quarterback JeMar Lincoln also likely will play Saturday. Lincoln spent last fall watching P. J. Blazejowski expertly direct a Furman offense designed to be difficult for opponents to manage. Lincoln and Roberts took virtually all of the meaningful snaps in spring practice.
Freshmen Hamp Sisson and Darren Grainger entered the competition this summer.
Related: Furman quarterback Harris Roberts is actually a Clemson student
“I do think they each have a unique skill set, which for us down the road, I’m excited about,” Furman coach Clay Hendrix said. “I don’t know if I’ve been part of a group where we had four guys. It’s great that you’ve got that, but at some point, you can’t get four guys ready to go. We’ve kind of narrowed that down as we’ve gone along.”
It’s likely Sisson or Grainger will redshirt, though the new redshirt rules could give the Paladins some flexibility throughout the season. The rule enables a player to participate in four games and still use a redshirt. Hendrix said the Paladins won’t play a freshman Saturday — at any position — just to see how he’ll do.
“If we’re playing a freshman at Clemson Saturday, it’s because we think for the long haul we’re going to play him,” he said.
No matter how many of the quarterbacks get on the field Saturday and this season, each one’s challenge will be to use his skill set to build on the standards Blazejowski and the offense established in 2017. Those included 2,936 yards and 36 touchdowns rushing and 2,571 yards and 19 touchdowns passing.
While Furman is breaking in new quarterbacks, the supporting cast is improved over opening weekend a year ago.
“I like the guys we’ve got (at quarterback), but you don’t ever know until the lights come on,” Hendrix said. “I have confidence in them. What was different last year was you had P.J., who had played a lot of football but the system was all new to him. But his supporting cast was not nearly as good. I think the supporting cast is a little better. Which makes it a little easier for that position.”