2014 Clemson Tigers Team Preview
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney
2013 record: 11-2 overall, 7-1 ACC Atlantic
2013 Bowl result: Beat Ohio State 40-35 in the Orange Bowl
2014 Returning Starters: 5 offense, 7 defense
Odds to Win 2015 College Football Championship Game: 75/1
Odds to Win 2014 ACC Championship Game: 10/1
Odds to Win 2014 ACC Atlantic Division: 13/2
Regular Season Wins: under 8.5 -125 / over 8.5 -105
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Last season, Clemson went 11-2 with the only losses coming to eventual national champion Florida State 51-14 and rival South Carolina 31-17. The season was bookended by upset wins over Georgia in the season opener and Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.
Clemson returns 12 starters and should be among the contenders for the ACC title. It won’t be easy as they are in the same division as heavy favorite Florida State and conference newcomer Louisville.
Clemson averaged 333 passing yards and 175 rushing yards. Clemson was #10 in total offense nationally at 507 yards per game. Clemson was #9 in scoring at 40 points per game. Five starters return on offense under coordinator Chad Morris.
Clemson must replace quarterback Tajh Boyd. He left as the second leading passer in ACC history. He completed 68.5% of his passes for 3,851 yards with 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and also added 154 carries for 400 yards and 10 touchdowns. Boyd is now with the New York Jets. Senior quarterback Cole Stoudt will take over behind center. He took a few snaps last year mostly in mop-up duty. He threw for 415 yards with 5 touchdowns and no picks, and also had 2 rushing touchdowns. True freshman DeShaun Watson will be the back-up.
Clemson must also replace leading rusher Roderick McDowell who had 189 carries for 1,025 yards with 5 touchdowns, along with 29 catches for 199 yards and 2 touchdowns. It will be a running back by committee with Zac Brooks, D.J. Howard and redshirt freshman Wayne Gallman splitting the carrier. Brooks and Howard each rushed for over 200 yards and 2 touchdowns, and each also caught a touchdown pass.
The Tigers must replace star receiver Sammy Watkins who was an early draft pick by the Buffalo Bills. Watkins had 101 catches for 1,464 yards and 12 touchdowns. Martavis Bryant also left early for the NFL and is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had 42 catches, 828 yards and 7 touchdowns. Senior receiver Adam Humphries had 41 catches for 483 yards and 2 touchdowns. Sophomore receiver Mike Williams could be the go-to receiver after making 20 catches for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns as a freshman. Still, Clemson will need true freshmen Demarre Kitt, Kyrin Priester and Artavis Scott to contribute immediately.
The offensive line must replace tackle Brandon Thomas and guard Tyler Shatly. Center Ryan Norton is the key returnee on the line. Isaiah Battle, David Beasley, Shaq Anthony and Kalon Davis also return, but Beasley and Anthony are suspended for the season opener.
Clemson was #25 nationally in total defense at 357 yards allowed per game. The Tigers allowed 22 points per game. Seven starters return on coordinator’s Brent Venables defense.
Senior defensive end Vic Beasley had 13 sacks last season and was a consensus All-American. He could have left early for the NFL but decided to come back for his senior season. Senior defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is good at stopping the run.
Senior linebacker Stephone Anthony had 131 tackles, including 13.5 for loss and 4 sacks. Tony Steward looks to replace Spencer Shuey who had 119 tackles last year.
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland left early for the NFL. Still, the secondary should be in good shape with senior Martin Jenkins and redshirt freshman Mackensie Alexander.
Junior Ammon Lakip looks to replace kicker Chandler Catanzaro, who is the #2 scorer in ACC history. Junior Bradley pinion returns as the punter. Adam Humphries will return punts, but it isn’t clear who will replace Watkins as the kick returner.
Clemson opens at Georgia, before hosting South Carolina State. They close the season at home against Georgia State and South Carolina. In the ACC, Clemson travels to Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. The Tigers host North Carolina, North Carolina State, Louisville and Syracuse. There is a good chance, the young Tigers could be 1-2 to start the season with games at Georgia and Florida State. After that the toughest games on the schedule are North Carolina, Louisville and South Carolina but all three come to Death Valley. I think Clemson wins 9 games.
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