It's almost like human nature: When a key player goes down, plenty of other players step up their games to make up for it.
Think about 2018, when the Tigers learned they were going to be without three players who tested positive for ostarine for the CFP Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame. One of them was starting defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. In his absence, Clemson's Albert Huggins and Nyles Pinckney played extremely well, and the Tigers went on to win the national title without a first-round NFL draft pick.
The stakes aren't nearly as high today against Boston College, but not having starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who's out with COVID-19, still brings on the need for others to do more to help true freshman replacement D.J. Uiagalelei.
Here are five players who could elevate their games to take some pressure off the offense and allow the Tigers to thrive against the Eagles:
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This is an obvious one, but after two off games, the Heisman Trophy candidate, who's set to break the ACC's all-time leading rusher in this game, needs to run well between the tackles and hit some big plays. But his value in the passing game and potentially some creative playcalling will be paramount for the offense. Every QB needs a safety valve, and Etienne is the ultimate one. He's a great check-down option, even on third-and-longs.
Frank Ladson Jr.
The sophomore receiver has had his shares of ups and downs, or catches and drops, this season, and there isn't a better time for him to play his best game of 2020 than today. BC will likely stack the box and force Uiagalelei to prove he can be accurate down the field. Ladson is the Tigers' best outside receiver right now and will get one-on-one opportunities to make plays. He needs to be the best receiver on the field and keep the Eagles honest by winning his matchup.
The backup to Etienne hasn't been especially effective running the ball this year, averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. This would be a good day for his breakout on the ground. However, Dixon has given the Tigers a huge lift on kick returns. He's averaging 30 yards per return and has helped give Clemson good field position early in games.
Clemson likely doesn't score a touchdown on every single possession with Lawrence, so it'll be even more important without him that the Tigers' placekicker is on and accurate. Potter is just 8-for-12 on field goals this season. He did, however, have three blocked in the same game against Miami, so he's probably been better than his percentage indicates.
A good offense can always use help from a good defense, and vice versa, and there are a number of Tigers who could step up their games today. But Spector is the leading tackler and one of the best playmakers on this side of the ball. The linebacker is a primary blitzer, and with fellow linebacker James Skalski out, he'll be asked to do even more. Add in Lawernce's absence, and Spector living in the backfield would ease the load for everybody on Clemson's side.