A tumultuous offseason that has seen Covid-19 cause major havoc which included the cancellation of March Madness, college baseball, and spring football is now winding down.
Like many others, this writer got the chance to watch the first college football game of the 2020 season this past Saturday, Austin Peay vs Central Arkansas, and it felt really good. Now that the first game is out of the way and its been shown that a season is possible and can be done, let’s take the time to look a little closer at what fans can expect to see from Clemson this season.
Today we will take a look at what the Tigers offense will look like when the first game on September 12 in Winston Salem with the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest gets underway. A game, by the way, that the Tigers will go into as 32.5 point favorites.
One of the Tigers biggest offensive spots to fill will be along the offensive line. Especially after losing four of last year’s five starters. Clemson’s offensive line was elite in pass protection in 2019, giving up just 18 sacks all season, but at times lacked that push needed when run-blocking.
Left tackle Jackson Carman is back and could potentially be a high draft pick in next year‘s NFL Draft. This gives the Tigers a good bit to work around, and fortunately the guys assuming new starting roles do have plenty of experience. The biggest question mark there will be the backups, and how fast the staff can get them up to speed.
The next spot that will have some voids to fill is at receiver. After Tee Higgins departure for the NFL and Justyn Ross‘ season ending spine surgery, Lawrence will now have to rely on receivers like Amari Rodgers, Joseph Ngata, Frank Ladson, and Cornell Powell as some of his primary targets. There’s also highly touted freshman E.J. Williams.
A really big bright spot for this Clemson offense will be the return of tight end Braden Galloway for an entire season. He is a weapon the likes of which Clemson has not had since Jordan Leggett left after the 2016 season.
Clemson’s running back room is loaded with two-time ACC Player of the Year Travis Etienne returning for his senior year. His versatility has been crucial to the Tigers success. He recorded over two thousand all-purpose yards last season, scoring nineteen touchdowns on the ground and another four through the air.
Then Clemson has Lyn-J Dixon, Michel Dukes, Chez Mellusi, and five-star freshman Demarkcus Bowman, along with Darien Rencher. This unit will be a big strength for the Tigers that can take some pressure off of Trevor Lawrence and the passing game.
Last but not least, you have quarterback Trevor Lawrence getting ready to begin his junior season under center at Clemson. He is looking to lead the Tigers to their third straight trip to the national championship game.
Lawrence saw steady improvement from year one to year two. He threw for over 3,600 yards and 36 scores in 2019. These both ranked inside the top ten in the FBS. One thing that was uncharacteristic for Lawrence last season was his eight interceptions. Although five of them came in the first three weeks. There is no doubt that no team In college football has more confidence in its returning quarterback than Clemson.
Clemson’s 2020 offense could be one of the best ever. Keep in mind that in 2019 it was among the best in all of college football. The Tigers scored nearly 44 points per game and ranked fourth in all of FBS. Their 7,900 total yards was second only to LSU.
Clemson converted 80 of 181 third down attempts which put them 27th in the nation and their red zone scoring ranked 40th. These are areas that need to improve and Tony Elliott has specifically said he would address the red zone issues by focusing on running the ball more.
Overall, This Clemson offense looks really good on paper and when you add in the fact that Dabo Swinney’s staff has shown throughout their tenure that they can get their teams ready to play with the best of them, it makes Clemson Nation feel that better. September 12 can’t get here fast enough for most fans.