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NCAA Upholds Clemson Suspensions Versus Notre Dame

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Dexter Lawrence has been ruled out by the NCAA for the Cotton Bowl versus Notre Dame.
Mike Stewart/Associated Press

Per a report from the Associated Press, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich has confirmed that the NCAA has upheld the suspensions for Clemson nose tackle Dexter Lawrence, tight end Braden Galloway and offensive lineman Zach Giella.

Each of the three tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug called Ostarine, and their B samples came back positive on Thursday. Giella is a reserve as is Galloway, who did catch five passes for 52 yards and a touchdown this year.

However, the 6-4, 350-pound Lawrence is a game-changing figure and projected as a first-round NFL draft pick because of his dominance in the middle. ESPN has revealed a stat where with Lawrence in the lineup Clemson allows only 1.9 yards per carry, but without him the figure moves up to 3.1.

Replacements for Lawrence inside would include 6-4, 315-pound senior Albert Huggins (63 career tackles, 13 for loss and 7.5 sacks), 6-1, 300-pound redshirt sophomore Nyles Pinckney (38 career tackles, five for loss and a sack) and 6-4, 310-pound redshirt freshman Jordan Williams (15 tackles this season, 2.5 for loss, with 1.5 sacks).

Per Pro Football Focus, Lawrence took 465 snaps per game, which amounts to about 36 per game, while Huggins had 306, with 15 quarterback hurries and 15 run stops. However, the domino effect cannot be underestimated when suddenly a backup is thrust into a role with more snaps.

The presence of a dominant defensive front has enabled esteemed Clemson coordinator Brent Venables to not have to blitz as much while trusting the front to control the line of scrimmage. The Tigers rank third nationally against the run (93.0 yards per game) and are tied for second-fewest points allowed (13.7 per game). Venables is taking the classic next-man-in approach that is part of Coaching 101.

“It's like an injury, and I've spent zero time, ‘Oh, is he going to play, what's the chance?’ I don't know,” said Venables, while also admitting he’s heartbroken for Lawrence. “Being real honest, but I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it. I've got a lot of confidence in Albert and Nyles. They've played a lot of winning football — not just this year. Last year when Dexter was probably 50 percent of what he is now as a player, and they've both played a lot of really good football.

“So injury's a part of the game, and that's what we're treating it like. I have nothing to do with the process, so I have spent no time really thinking about it.”

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