Preview 2019: Previewing and looking ahead to the Clemson Tigers season with what you need to know.
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players | Key Players, Games, Stats
– What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Clemson Previews 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015
2018 Record: 15-0 overall, 8-0 in ACC
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney, 12th year, 116-30
5. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CLEMSON OFFENSE
– The offense that ripped almost everything to shreds as last year went on now gets back seven starters with a few a year or so away from dominating the NFL world.
The defense might have been among the best in the country – and it dictated the tone over the course of the national title run – but the offense finished third in the nation averaging over 527 yards and 44 points per game. There are concerns, but if the starting 11 stays healthy, good luck slowing down the machine.
– Trevor Lawrence would’ve been the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, he’d be the top pick if he was eligible for next years’ draft, and he’s a mortal lock to be the main man for the 2021 version. The 6-6, 215-pounder wasn’t perfect, but he was close, throwing for 3,280 yards and 30 touchdowns and four picks as he led the Tigers to the national title as a true freshman.
6-3, 225-pound sophomore Chase Brice stepped in and saved the day when Lawerence was knocked out of the Syracuse game, but there’s a massive drop-off from what Lawrence brings. After that, things get interesting. Freshman Taisun Phommachanh is a big-time talent who could play anywhere, but on the way in next year’s recruiting class is everyone’s No. 1 pick, DJ Uiagalelei.
– If it’s possible to run for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns and be underrated, that’s Travis Etienne. The 5-10, 215-pound junior averaged over eight yards per carry and caught the ball a little bit. He can be a workhorse, but he doesn’t have to be with sophomore Lyn-J Dixon more than just a No. 2 option, running for 547 yards and five scores – averaging close to nine yards per carry – and should see a whole lot more work.
Tavien Feaster transferred, but Darien Rencher is a decent backup and a few options are coming in from the recruiting class.
– How good is the Clemson receiving corps? It lost 55-catch NFL talent Amari Rodgers to a torn ACL and reliable midrange target Hunter Renfro and it’s still amazing.
6-4, 205-pound sophomore Justyn Ross averaged close to 22 yards per catch with a team-high 1000 yards, 6-4, 205-pound junior Tee Higgins led the team with 59 catches and 12 touchdowns, and there’s more talent ready to be unleashed.
6-4, 205-pound – catching on to the theme here? – Diondre Overton caught 14 passes with three scores, and sophomore corner Derion Kendrick is coming off a 15-catch, 210-yard season. 6-4, 215-pound five-star super-recruit Joe Nagata is yet another special talent who’ll be too good to keep off the field.
The tight ends didn’t get a lot of work, and there’s a drop off with top option Braden Galloway suspended by the NCAA for the regular season for PED use. 6-3, 260-pound junior JC Chalk saw a little time and 6-5, 250-pound freshman Jaelyn Lay is the near future of the position.
– The offensive line was a dominant force. It wasn’t flashy, and it didn’t have the next-level talent of the Oklahoma or Alabama lines, but it was great for the ground game, allowed just 17 tackles, and was third in the nation in fewest tackles for loss allowed. Mitch Hyatt is gone at left tackle and center Justin Falcinelli is done, but the rest of the front five is back.
Tremayne Anchrum might not have NFL size at 6-2 and 310 pounds – at least as a tackle – but he’s a good college blocker on the right side, and 6-5, 355-pound sophomore Jackson Carman will bring more power in place of Hyatt on the left side.
6-4, 330-pound John Simpson is a rock-solid junior at left guard, and 6-5, 315-pound senior guard Sean Pollard will likely slide over into the open center job. 6-3, 325-pound junior Gage Cervenka can play guard or center.