Spring Ball Preview: Offense

The Clemson offense averaged 528.7 total YPG last season. 240.4 came on the ground and 288.3 passing the ball, ranking them fifth overall in the FBS. The Tigers bring most of the skill players back, and hope to improve going into the 2020 season.

One of the biggest questions heading into 2020 has nothing to do with skill positions. Don’t misunderstand, there are plenty of things for the skill players to work on, but the biggest questions come at the core, the offensive line. The depth there is a question, and could even be a concern heading into 2020.

Who makes up the two-deep besides Hunter Rayburn at center? Blake Vinson has been eyeing a middle of spring return to action and the Tigers will need him.

Walker Parks doesn’t enroll until June and neither do John Williams or Trent Howard. Paul Tchio and Mitchell Mayes are on campus already and may see more action than most would expect.

Bockhorst and Carman will pair to give the Tigers experience and talent on the left side of the line. Center is certainly a fair question mark at this point.

Can Will Putnam be looking at a starting job in just his second year? He did see the field for nearly 200 snaps in 11 games during the 2019 season. He squats 550 lbs, and that is elite for a freshman offensive lineman.

Jordan McFadden is the fastest player along the line, so it will be interesting to see just how that will work out. Last year at this time McFadden seemed to feel that he was further along as a run blocker than as a pass protector.

We will just have to see how fast these guys can bond and if they can open the running lanes for Travis Etienne and the other backs, as well as protect Trevor Lawrence.

Travis Etienne announcing a return for his senior season was as big as any five star signed. Demarkcus Bowman is scheduled to enroll in early May, but still misses the spring.

Even with Etienne returning and Lyn-J Dixon, Mikey Dukes, and Chez Mellusi, you still have to wonder whether Bowman is someone you can’t not get touches?

Going into his third season, one has to think TLaw is on a mission in 2020. Last season he experienced multiple career lows, including his first career college loss, that came in a game in which he didn’t play well.

He endured injuries. He endured criticism from every angle. He also admitted to being somewhat affected by the offseason press clippings that discussed his almost perfect freshman season.

Clemson will have to replace a huge part of the puzzle in Tee Higgins, and what is Amari Rodgers’ ceiling as he enters his senior season? The Tigers need him more involved in the offense.

With the offensive line having to gel, most would think that Amari will be a viable asset in the short passing game. In the Tiger’s last five games of the 2019 season (Wake Forest, South Carolina, Virginia, Ohio State, LSU), Rodgers caught just 5 passes for 54 yards, and that needs to change.

What will the sophomore campaign look like for Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson, Jr? They should be a little more developed these after fairly low key freshmen seasons. Don’t be surprised if Brannon Spector plays a more significant role in 2020.

WR coach Tyler Grisham won’t be able to just push the cruise control button this offseason with wide receivers. This group got undeniably bested by better Ohio State and LSU defensive backs during the postseason.

Justyn Ross is expected to assume the 9 man after playing mostly 2 man in 2019. He was not as dominant as a sophomore, going over 80 yards just two times on the season.

He had less touchdowns (8) than he did in 2018 (9), but wasn’t totally healthy. That is important because it definitely did not help his productivity.

The Tigers will also go from having very little proven tight end depth and experience in 2019 to a nice stable of players at the position in 2020. Braden Galloway and Davis Allen seem to be in line for the most snaps. Luke Price looks like he will have a niche role and J.C. Chalk has knowledge that he can bring to that group.

Another spring, summer, and fall for Galloway should lead to exciting things in 2020. Especially from what he showed in his return in the playoffs. Their shouldn’t be a wide receiver returning for the Tigers in 2020 that doesn’t feel that he has something to prove.

How do these things make the 2020 Tigers look overall? You have Lawrence in his third year and ETN in his fourth. Two more guys with something to prove since both are expected to be in the Heisman race.

You then have an offensive line with talent that will need to grow up fast. Last but not least, you also have a receiver corps that needs guys to step up.

This offense has no ceiling with the talent in place. As long as they can stay healthy and get the right guys in place up front, the sky is the limit.

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