•  Register
25

2017 Fierce 40 Previews: #5 Clemson

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 25, 2017

#5 Clemson Tigers

2016 Recap:
How does a National Championship sound? Clemson won their first title since 1981 after defeating Alabama in dramatic fashion 35-31.


Coaching:
Dabo Sweeney is locked into a long term deal and one of the highest paid coaches in the country...and rightfully so. Brent Vanables is still the defensive coordinator after being mentioned for a few head coaching vacancies, this will likely be his last season at Clemson. Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott run the offense.

 

Offense

The Tigers had a terrific three-headed moster leading the offense during their title run in Deshaun Wastson, Wayne Gallman and Mike Williams. All three players are gone so the Tigers adapt the next up mentality to try and repeat. Kelly Bryant was recently named the starting quarterback but his leash will be short with freshman Hunter Johnson waiting in the wings. The mobiolity displayed by Watson won't be there and it added value when a dependable running back was behind him. C.J. Fuller and Tavean Feaster will be a two-headed monster that should give opposing defenses different looks and keep them off balance. Hunter Renfrow continues to make big catch after big catch and Clemson sports one of the best lines at the FBS level. Mitch Hyatt looks like a fringe 1st rounder if he declares at tackle and Tyrone Crowder will be the leader along the interior.
 

Best Draft Prospects: Mitch Hyatt OT 1st/2nd Round 2018 (Early Declaration Candidate).

                                       Deon Cain WR 3rd Round 2019.


Defense

The Clemson defense regressed last season, by regressing I mean they dropped from #1 overall in 2015 to #8 overall in 2016. You won;t find a more intimidating 1-2 combo in the middle of a defensive line than Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence. Wilkins has top 5 overall ability and Lawrence is neck and neck with Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver for top tackle in the 2020 draft class. Ryan Carter and Van Smith have a ton of leadership in the secondary and they will be calling many of the on-field adjustments. Kendall Joseph made a lot of tackles last season and his lateral movement and range make him an exceptional player that offensive coordinators need to be wary of.

Best Draft Prospects: Christian Wilkins DT 1st Round 2018 (Early Declaration Candidate and Potential Top 5 Selection).               

                                       Dexter Lawrence DT 1st Round 2019 (Early Declaration Candidate).


Special Teams:

Ray-Ray McCloud might split time as a return man now that he will be a starting wide receiver. Tavien Feaster could serve as the man to spell him relief or C.J. Fuller. Greg Huegel is one of the most reliable field goal kickers in the country and the coverage teams are well coached. The punter job was still wide open at the time this article was written.


Schedule:

The showdown in week 2 with AUburn will be a great game and a helluva tuneup before opening the ACC schedule the following week on the road against Louisville. The second road game for Clemson will be against Virginia Tech, a team that hasd improved and is on the rise. Florid State will be a home game in November so Clemson should have plenty of momentum built up going into that contest.


Draft and Overall Outlook:

Clemson has a pair of the best defenisve tackles in the entire country stuffing the run and adding interior pressure. There will be no shortage of draftable talent and the season will depnd upon replacing players with a ton of expereince at skill positions.

 

DJ Boyer