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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Clemson Tigers College Football Preview 2021: Defense

It’s Clemson, so the offense will be more than fine even with a few question marks around the skill guys. The defense is about to go from great to special – at least that’s the hope.

The Tigers worked through a slew of injuries and a whole lot of talented young new parts getting their feet wet. They still finished No. 1 in the ACC in total and scoring defense, they were outstanding against the run, and they kept everyone but Ohio State, Notre Dame and Virginia under 400 total yards.

A few good parts are gone – LB Mike Jones left for LSU, star CB Derion Kendrick took off for Georgia, and DT Nyles Pinckney is now a Minnesota Golden Gopher – but nine starters are expected to return. There’s a whole lot of talented depth and more young prospects ready to rise up, too.

Eight of the team’s top ten in tackles for loss and nine of the top 12 in tackles were underclassmen. Jones is gone, but James Skalski has been a nice middle linebacker over the last few years with a whole lot of tackles and a steady leadership presence.

230-pound Baylon Spector is about to become a much bigger national deal – he led the team with 65 stops with 10.5 tackles for loss on the outside – and Trenton Simpson is a fast, active young option ready to step in for Jones.

The line has a burgeoning superstar in Bryan Bresee, a former top recruit who showed flashes of his next-level greatness in an all-star freshman year. He’s a 300-pounder at one tackle, 300-pound Tyler Davis is an NFL starter at the other tackle, and with Myles Murphy leading a big, deep group of ends, good luck doing much against this group when it’s healthy.

– Losing Kendrick hurts. He’s an NFL-caliber lockdown corner, but … boo hoo. This is still one of the best secondaries in the nation starting with the safety tandem of Nolan Turner and Lannden Zanders – they’re two very big, very sound hitters – and with a slew of potential All-ACC and NFL corners in Sheridan Jones, Andrew Booth and Mario Goodrich.

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

NEXT: Clemson Tigers College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

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