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2018 Fierce 40 Previews: #1 Clemson

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 17, 2018

#1 Clemson Tigers

2017 Recap:
A 12-2 season and a birth in the College Football Playoff before losing in the national semifinals in a rematch with Alabama 24-6 as Clemson attempted to repeat as champions. A midseason slip at Syracuse was the only loss heading into the postseason and Clemson easily won the conference defeating Miami in the ACC title game 38-3.

 

Coaching:
Dabo Sweeney is seen in many circles as the best college football coach outside of Nick Saban and Urban Meyer. With Meyer on uncertain ground at this time Sweeney could elevate himself to being #2 overall and ready to take the mantle as the finest coach in the land when Saban hangs up his headset. Defensive coordinator Brant Venables is still amazingly at Clemson, he is the finest assistant in college football and we are willing to bet he accepts a head coaching gig somewhere for the 2019 season.

 

Offense

The offense should get better with Kelly Bryant back for a second season as the starter at quarterback. While Bryant proved effective with over 2,800 yards and 13 TD's he showed he was no Deshaun Watson in the playoffs as Clemson was decked 24-6. This opens the door for the new arrival Trevor Lawrence, the prize catch of the Clemson recruiting class. We will probably see Lawrence brought along slowly for a few series early and he may have the starting job by seasons end. Hunter Renfrow is finally a senior and the most reliable target on offense. Travis Etienne and Tavien Feaster will split duties at running back and they have a nice line to run behind. Mitch Hyatt looks like best offensive prospect for the Tigers in this draft class at left tackle. Next to Boston college, Clemson probably has the best offennnnsive line in the ACC.

Best Draft Prospects: Mitch Hyatt OT 1st/2nd Round 2019 

                                  Hunter Renfrow WR 4th Round 2019 

 

Defense

This may be the best starting defenisve line that college football has seen in the last 25 years. All four starters along the Clemson defensive front could hear their names called in the first round of the NFL Draft if tackle Dexter Lawrence and end Clelin Ferrell declare following their junior seasons. Tackle Christian Wilkins and end Austin Bryant are seniors who decided to not enter the Draft last season when both had likely first round grades. Kendall Joseph is a legitimate linebacker who is overshadowed by just how effective the front line is. Tre Lamar joins Joseph along with the seasoned Isaiah Simmons. Clemson was #4 against the pass a season ago and they are led by Trayvon Mullen who could also find himself declaring for the Draft with a big season. the real trick here is will teams totally avoid Mullen in order to go after the unproven talent located everywhere else in the secondary. A.J. Terrell is the leading candidate to satart opposite Mullen.

Best Draft Prospects: Christian Wilkins DT 1st Round 2019               

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


Special Teams:

The biggest piece of special teams that will need replaced is in the return game as Ray Ray mcCloud has moved onto the NFL. The return jobs are officially in the air although running back Travis Etienne figures to see major time in the return game. the kicking game is solid but unspectacular while punter Will Spiers will try to follow a terrific succesful freshman season.

 

Schedule:

It is a little ironic that Clenson sees their first road game in week 2 against Texas A&M where they face Jimbo Fisher, the man who led Florida State for so many years. Speaking of the Seminoles, that is a road game for Clemson while the annual in state grudge match with the South Carolina Gamecocks will be at home.


Draft and Overall Outlook:

Clemson could make history if some players declare and the entire starting defensive line is draft eligible as they could all go in the first round. It will be interesting to see what backup players emerge this season as Clemson will lose a lot of talent going into 2019 and they need to get some of those players their valuable time on the field.

 

DJ Boyer