Heading into the 2020 season, the Clemson offense is set to return an abundance of talent at the skill positions. Arguably more so than any other team in the country.
Leading the way is junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who most feel will be the number one overall pick in next years NFL Draft.
“He’s 6-foot-6, can move around, tremendous athlete,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently said on The Ryen Russillo Podcast. “You can use him in the designed quarterback run game, as well as just organically making plays with his athleticism. And he’s got a big arm.”
When most people think about Lawrence, they tend to focus on the big arm and the jaw-dropping throws. However, he can also beat you with his legs, something Ohio State learned all to well in last years loss to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.
Lawrence actually grades out higher than any other returning P5 quarterback when it comes to running the ball, including the explosive Justin Fields.
Seeing as Clemson has one of the most talented and deepest running back rooms in the country, Lawrence’s ability to make plays with his legs just makes this offense that much harder to defend.
Record breaking running back Travis Etienne is back for his senior season, and let’s be honest, we’ve only scratched the surface regarding exactly how good he can really be. Imagine him getting closer to 20 touches a game instead of the dozen or so he typically receives.
Back during the spring, offensive coordinator talked about the team getting pass happy at times last season, especially in short yardage. Expect Etienne’s touches to go up, but by how much is anyone’s guess.
“You know we took some chances throwing the football,” Elliott said during the spring. “So we learned probably to hand the ball to Travis a little bit more in short yard situations, if we want to convert.”
Although, whether he is getting 10 carries a game or more than 20, having the most elusive back in the nation in the backfield gives Elliott a lot of flexibility when it comes to game planning and calling plays.
The Tigers were supposed to have junior wideout Justyn Ross starting at the boundary after Tee Higgins departed for the NFL. However, a congenital condition in his spine will cause him to miss the entire season.
Amari Rodgers is back for his senior season, and should be 100% after an ACL tear in the spring of 2019 slowed him somewhat at times last season. Without Ross, Rodgers should have plenty of opportunities to show what he can do.
However, not having Ross also means that the younger guys are going to have to step up. There is plenty of talent, just not a ton of experience. Joseph Ngata, Frank Ladson, Brannon Spector and EJ Williams will all have to help fill the void left by Ross.
The wildcard in this group is Cornell Powell. It has never been a question of talent with the fifth year senior, and by all accounts, Powell was starting to put it all together in the spring. The question is whether he can do so on a consistent basis.
“That’s always been his problem,” Dabo Swinney said during spring. “Day in and day out. Don’t get out-competed. That’s really it. He’s been out-competed.”
The Tigers will also have a tight end in Braden Galloway they can depend on to consistently make plays in the passing game. Something they have not had since the 2016 season. This offense is at its best when it has a tight end that can flex out and take advantages of mismatches across the middle of the field.
Without question, the Tigers have the personnel to put one of the better offenses the sport has seen in recent memory on the field in 2020. Watching them try to pull it off should be entertaining.