Clemson Football: things to watch down the stretch (Photo by USAToday Sports)
As Clemson finishes up with the bye week and gets ready to take on Florida State this weekend some would say that it has been a good, yet sometimes not great, season to this point. Yes, the Tigers are 7-1 overall with the only loss coming in their double overtime game with Notre Dame played without a number of players including Trevor Lawrence, but there have been some flaws.
Now, as they get ready for the stretch run let’s take a look at some things that Clemson needs if they plan to make a run at another national championship:
- Get Healthy: Not only do the Tigers need to get some key players healthy, especially on defense, but also continue to navigate the Covid-19 minefield like they have been doing. They have had players, as everyone knows, to test positive and have to follow protocol but overall Clemson has not seen the large numbers that others across the country have had to deal with. Some have been disappointed with the number of injuries the Tigers have endured this season as opposed to the last few years but there is something that needs to be remembered about this. This year has been so very different due to Covid-19. Clemson players did not have a full spring practice and then the players were not allowed to work out with the strength and conditioning coaches in person over the summer. So it shouldn’t be surprising that there are some more injuries this season.
- Better Offensive Line Play: The offensive line has played decent at times but they need to get better. Especially when It comes to the run. The stats don’t lie and last year the Tigers averaged 6.4 yards a carry while this year they are averaging 4.1. You can also see it when looking at Travis Etienne’s average yards per carry. In 2019, he averaged 7.8 yards per carry and this year he is averaging 5.2. The issues with the offensive line were evident in the Notre Dame game, especially at the end of regulation when Clemson really needed better play out of them. It will be very interesting to see what the coaching staff has done to correct the issues during this bye week and whether they can get the job done down the stretch.
- A consistent down field threat: Amari Rodgers has been on fire and everyone knows that. Cornell Powell has looked like he is ready to step into the roll of being that second choice while Braden Galloway and Davis Allen are doing a fairly good job helping out in the passing game. The Clemson offense needs someone to be able to stretch the defense consistently going forward. This has been a position that some were concerned about coming into the season after the Tigers not only lost Tee Higgins but also Justyn Ross. Frank Ladson Jr has had the opportunity but has not shown the ability to consistently make the catches down field while Joseph Ngata has been trying to recover from an injury. As Clemson moves forward expect them to try to stretch the field more to help open up running lanes and it will be worth watching to see who can bet that consistent downfield threat for the Tigers.