College Football Preview: The 2014 Clemson Tigers
2014 College Football Preview
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Overview: For the third straight season, the Clemson Tigers won double-digit games and capped it off with a BCS bowl victory. Clemson averaged more than 40 points per game and had a Top 10 passing offense in the country led by Tajh Boyd. Clemson had easily one of the more explosive offenses in the country, but also had the third best defense in the ACC. However, Clemson continued to come up short against the better teams in college football and fell short of competing for a conference title. Still, it was one of the best seasons for the Tigers in program history.
Offense: Clemson’s offense should be fine as long as Chad Morris is calling the shots, but it’s going to take some tweaking. The Tigers lost quarterback Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, a duo that was one of the best in college football the last two seasons. The Tigers also lost their leading rusher in running back Roderick McDowell. In order to keep the production going there are going to be several new faces that must step up quickly. Senior quarterback Cole Stoudt is expected to take over the team, but he’s thrown no more than 59 passes in a single season. There’s certainly going to be growing pains with this unit.
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Defense: Clemson will have to rely on its much improved defense early on until the offense figures things out. That shouldn’t be a problem with Vic Beasley leading the way along the defensive line. Beasley led the ACC last season with 13 sacks. The Tigers also have youngsters such as Shaq Lawson, Jayron Kearse and Travis Blanks expected to make a big impact this season as well. While Clemson’s offense received much of the credit last year, the defense finished with 38 sacks and 30 turnovers. This unit is more than capable of rising to the occasion.
Special Teams: Clemson must replace Chandler Catanzaro, which won’t be an easy task considering he drilled more than 90 percent of his field goals the last two seasons. Punter Bradley Pinion returns for another season after averaging just shy of 40 yards per attempt last year.
Outlook: There’s no doubt Clemson may take a step back due to all of the offensive firepower it lost last season. However, the ACC is weak enough that the defense could carry the way, while the offense does just enough to get by. There’s no question there’s still talent on the team, which may be good enough to compete in the Atlantic division. The verdict is still up in the air with this team, but we’ll find out just how good this team can be early when they play the Georgia Bulldogs.