Five storylines to watch when Clemson opens season at Wake Forest (Photo by USAToday Sports)
The Tigers head up to Winston-Salem to begin their season against the Demon Deacons in a 7:30pm showdown on ABC. This comes after a tumultuous off season due to the Covid-19 pandemic that saw a lot of practice time canceled. So, let’s look at some things to watch a little closer.
- Zero fans In Stands: One of the things that has been debated a lot over the last few weeks is whether there should or shouldn’t be fans in the stands. Some, like Clemson, are going with limited fans in the stands and others, like Wake Forest, are going with zero fans in the stands. While some have joked about this not being any different than a normal Saturday in Winston-Salem, when the game begins and there is no one there this will be something that most would expect to be strange and hard to get used to. Even though the ACC is going to be allowing crowd noise and music to be played during the game to give a sense of having fans there it’s just not the same.
- No Jeff Scott: One thing that not many are talking about is the fact that now this offense is under Tony Elliott‘s complete control. Many will be waiting to see how he does with out his co-coordinator Jeff Scott, who took the head coaching job at South Florida at the end of last season. It will be interesting to see if the Clemson offense has a different feel or if it carries on like nothing happened.
- The New Offensive Line: The good news for Tiger fans is that former five star Jackson Carman is going into his junior year. The bad news is that he is the only starter back for the Clemson offense. As most know, Dabo Swinney and his staff have always been known for playing lots of players and this will help out because the other linemen did get some playing time and experience last season. One thing that will be interesting to see is just how long it will take the staff to get the lineman behind them to get better, adjust, and develop some real depth.
- Wide Receivers: This receiving corp is loaded with talent. The only issue is experience. With the losses of Tee Higgins (NFL) and Justyn Ross (season ending injury) that leaves Amari Rodgers, Cornell Powell, and Will Brown with the most experience. Clemson has the very talented sophomores Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson, Jr, along with freshmen Ajou Ajou and EJ Williams that round out a stacked receiver room. Add in the fact that the Tigers also now have a tight end in Braden Galloway that can stretch the field and this will help Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the wide receivers, and the running game out tremendously.
- Covid-19 Issues And Protocol: Get used to hearing the term “strange season.” This is The Covid-19 pandemic is not going away so might as well start expecting the unexpected. Clemson has done a wonderful job of handling the Covid-19 protocols to this point. Those protocols mean fans could have a hard time keeping up with who is available from week to week, and who is not. Fans generally hope their team stays healthy during the season. That is something that could prove extra important this season.