Over the month of July we will look at the top college football teams in the nation and preview 31 teams in 31 days. This preview will give you an edge over your fellow college football handicapping friends. Here is team #24 and the 2010 Clemson Tigers Football Preview.
No. 24 Clemson Tigers
2009 record: 9-5
2009 Bowl Game: 21-13 win in Music City Bowl
2009 ATS: 8-5
Returning starters: 13 (7 on offense, 6 on defense)
The Tigers return seven starters on last years high-octane rushing offense. They are losing their strongest weapon in C.J. Spiller and will have to look for a replacement. Third-year head coach Dabo Swinney faces a tough decision as replacement candidates Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper had almost identical numbers in 2009
Ellington ran for 491 yards and four touchdowns, while Harper gained 418 yards and scored four times. Ellington will probably get the nod due to his higher average per carry. He averaged 7.2 ypc while Harper only got an average of 5.2 yards out of his rushes.
On top of losing Spiller, the Tigers will lose their best weapon at wide receiver. Jacoby Ford was drafted in the fourth round by the Oakland Raiders. He caught 56 passes for 779 yards and six touchdowns.
Senior Xavier Dye will most likely replace Ford as the No. 1 receiver. He caught 14 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns last season. His 16.9 yards per reception were good for second on the team.
Clemson also loses tight end Michael Palmer, who caught 43 passes for 507 yards and four touchdowns. His replacement Dwayne Allen showed that he can step in immediately and have a positive impact on the team. He caught three touchdown passes last season.
Quarterback Kyle Parker had a solid freshman season, throwing for 2,526 yards and 20 touchdowns. He needs to work on his accuracy, as he only completed 55.6 percent of his attempts and threw 12 picks. With a year under his belt, he should be able to improve.
The Tiger’s brightes spot on offense is the line. They only lose one starter, left guard Thomas Austin. They are not very deep though, and can’t afford any injuries.
The Tigers’ defense is strong. The front four is very talented with Jarvis Jenkins and Brandon Thompson leading the way. Jenkins had ten tackles for a loss last season, and added one sack. He had 69 tackles. Nose guard Thompson had two tackles for a loss and 50 total tackles, but has the skill and talent to be a force.
The Tigers have one of the best safety combos in the nation. DeAndre McDaniel and Rashard Hall combined for 14 interceptions last season, and are a nightmare for opposing pass attacks. McDaniel had eight picks, Hall had six.
Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell will step in at corner due to the loss of Chris Chancellor and Crezdon Butler. They should be able to contribute right away. Both saw significant playing time last season. Gilchrist had 107 tackles and one sack, Maxwell had two interceptions.
The linebacking corps needs to improve on last season’s performance, but with the talent that is there, they should be able to put up better numbers.
Kicker Richard Jackson converted 41 of 43 extra points, but made only 20 of his 31 field goals. He struggled from 40 to 49 yards, missing six of his 11 tries. He has shown that he has the leg and accuracy to succeed on long kicks, making three of five field goals from 50 yards and beyond. His season long was 53.
Punter Dawson Zimmerman averaged 39.1 yards per attempt and forced 23 fair catches. He buried the ball within the opponent’s 20-yard line 19 times.
Spiller and Ford handled punt and kick return duties, and the Tigers will have to find a replacement for them.
Against the spread
Clemson went 8-5 against the college football oddsmakers spread last season. They went 4-2 as the home favorite. They didn’t do as well when favored on the road, going 1-2 ATS. They didn’t have a game as the home underdog, and went 2-0 as the away dog.
They are 56-61-2 against the spread in the last ten years.
You can bet on it
Bet the Tigers at North Carolina on October 9. They won the last meeting in 2006 in 52-7 blowout. They have won the last three and five of the last six against North Carolina. In the last three meetings Clemson has outgained NC by 224 yards per game.
Favor the fade
Fade the Tigers at home against Maryland on Oct. 16. The home team has lost for of the last five matchups. Clemson has been upset three of the last four years despite being a double digit favorite every time. With the question marks surrounding the Tigers’ offense, this could be another upset.