College Football Preview: The 2015 Clemson Tigers
Clemson Tigers Preview
2014 Record: 10-3 (3rd in the ACC) Beat Oklahoma in Russell Athletic Bowl 40-6
Odds to Win National Championship: +3300 See the Latest Odds
Overview: The Clemson Tigers have won double-digit games for four straight seasons under Dabo Swinney, and they haven’t missed a bowl appearance since 2004. Clemson is no longer a cute underdog story and instead has quickly become a consistent threat in the ACC. Now, Swinney and his staff have to figure out how to take that next step and really push for a playoff spot.
Offense: Clemson lost the brains behind its defense with OC Chad Morris leaving for the head coaching job at SMU. While that’s certainly a big blow to the offense, the return of a healthy Deshaun Watson at QB is far more important. Watson has looked sharp in camp after tearing his ACL last season. Still, as a freshman, Watson completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 14 touchdowns and two interceptions. Watson will have his same guys to throw to as well, as a duo of Mike Williams and Artavis Scott combined for nearly 2,000 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. Germone Hopper and Jordan Leggett also return, giving Clemson four of its top-five targets from last season. Clemson’s ground game will once again be a combination of Wayne Gallman and C.J. Davidson, making the Tigers one of the more balanced offenses in the ACC.
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Defense: Clemson returns only two starters from a defense that was considered the best in college football last season. Stephone Anthony, Vic Beasley, Robert Smith, Tony Steward, you name it, and they’re likely gone. The good news is that Clemson still has one of the top DC in the game in Brent Venables who will find ways to make it work. It’s also not like there’s no talent around here, as Shaq Lawson was one of the higher recruited players in the country and Mackensie Alexander is probably the best cornerback you never heard of. Jayron Kearse has NFL ability and Ben Boulware is that nasty linebacker that every team needs. The talent hasn’t left, it’s just a question of if this youth can come together in time.
Special Teams: Ammon Lakip returns at kicker after making 75 percent of 28 attempts. Andy Teasdall will replace Bradley Pinion at punter. Teasdall has two career punts for a combined 86 yards.
Overall: The Clemson Tigers are loaded on the offensive side of the ball and have the raw talent on the defensive side to give just about any team in the country a run for its money. The problem is we’ve heard this recently with this program. When will Clemson actually take that next step? The time may be now. Clemson has as good of a shot as any to win the ACC and possibly sneak into the playoffs.