It’s game week! Something many thought would never arrive, yet here we are.
Clemson opens the season on the road in primetime as they look for their 12th straight victory over Wake Forest. Last season saw the Tigers outclass an undermanned Wake team 52-3 in Death Valley.
Not only has Clemson won eleven straight in the series, they’ve also won 14 of 17 and Dabo Swinney has never lost to the Demon Deacons as head coach of the Tigers.
Clemson comes into the season with a plethora of weapons on offense, and that’s despite losing two starting receivers from last season.
Frank Ladson and Joseph Ngata will step into the roles vacated by Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins. Both are very talented but lack any real big game experience.
They’ll join senior Amari Rodgers and junior tight end Braden Galloway as the primary targets for all-world quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
With a versatile tight end like Galloway, look for Clemson to get back to trying to attack the middle of the field. It’s something they’ve gotten away from since the departure of Jordan Leggett.
With both outside receivers lacking in experience though, expect the Tigers to go back to the basics with a renewed focus on the running game. Travis Etienne came back to improve his draft stock and Tony Elliott has said multiple times over the offseason they’ll make an effort to get their star back more carries, particularly in short yardage and in the red zone.
On defense, Brent Venables also has a slew of talent at his disposal. However, just like on the offensive side, some of it is inexperienced, especially up front along the defensive line. The starters have seen plenty of playing time but not the backups.
With the transfer of quarterback Jamie Newman to Georgia, Wake will turn back to Sam Hartman to run the offense. The Deacs did have one of the better offensive attacks in the country last season, but pretty much all those guys are gone. There could be some growing pains, especially early and opening up with the number one team in the country doesn’t help.
The depleted offense against a revamped Clemson defense will not bode well for the Demon Deacons. There’s a reason the Tigers are 32 point favorites in this one.