Clemson Tigers: CFN College Football Preview 2021

Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson Tigers: CFN College Football Preview 2021

2021 Preview

Clemson Tigers: CFN College Football Preview 2021

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College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Clemson football season with what you need to know.


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– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Clemson Football Schedule Analysis
– Clemson Tigers Previews
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2020 Record: 10-2 overall, 9-1 in ACC
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney, 14th year: 140-33
2020 CFN Final Ranking: 3
2020 CFN Preview Ranking: 2
2019 CFN Final Ranking: 3

Clemson Tigers College Football Preview 2021: Offense

So how do you keep on going after losing a generational quarterback talent and the ACC’s all-time leading rusher? If you’re Clemson, you just find the next Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne.

It was able to find another quarterback worthy of the massive resumés of Deshaun Watson and Tajh Boyd – and give Kelly Bryant his due for getting Clemson to the CFP. It also had to find another running back at the same level as Wayne Gallman and Andre Ellington, and it more than did that.

Yeah, Lawrence and Etienne really were special. But Clemson can be even better.

It’s hard to argue with having the nation’s tenth-best offense that averaged over 500 yards per game and was third in scoring with close to 44 points per outing, but the ground game wasn’t all that great and there were a few too many turnovers – but that’s nitpicking.

You don’t have a better team without Lawrence and Etienne, but …

DJ Uiagalelei is the truth. He wasn’t quite the same level of recruit as Lawrence, but he wasn’t all that far off. He stepped in when Lawrence was out with COVID issues and pushed Notre Dame for 429 yards and two scores and mounted a comeback to get by Boston College. All the tools are there to be the 2023 No. 1 overall draft pick.

The backup situation, though, is massive concern after Taisun Phommachanh – a strong 6-3, 220-pound recruit from a few years ago – suffered a torn Achilles heel this spring. If the season is down to walk-on Hunter Hemes, there’s a problem.

The receiving corps will be fine no matter what, but it’ll obviously be a whole lot better if Justyn Ross is okay and ready to play.

A top ten overall draft pick-caliber receiver, he’s a 6-4, 205-pound deep threat who missed all of last year with a career-threatening spinal issue. He’s still looking to get back and into the mix, but it’s still going to be a while as he keeps on progressing along.

Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell are gone – along with the receiving skills of Etienne – making TE Braden Galloway the leading returning receiver. He’s an NFL talent who’ll make plenty of all-star teams, but a slew of young parts have to shine.

The trio of 6-3 targets EJ Williams, Frank Ladson and Joseph Ngata are very big and very talented. It’s a young, deep group – watch out for freshman Beaux Collins – that now gets its chance in the spotlight.

– A few sure-thing returning All-ACC stars are on the offensive line, but the group has to be stronger for the ground game while continuing to be fantastic in pass protection.

Matt Bockhorst might be the ACC’s best guard if it’s not Will Putnam on the right side, and undersized all-star Jordan McFadden should be just fine at left tackle in place of Jackson Carman.

There isn’t another Etienne, but Lyn-J Dixon has patiently waited his turn to do a lot more. 215-pound sophomore Kobe Pace and new recruits Will Shipley and Phil Mafah will all be a part of a rotation.

– What You Need To Know: Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Clemson Football Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Clemson Tigers College Football Preview 2021: Defense

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