Clemson’s spring game kicks off tomorrow and the team is fresh off the first 15-0 season since the Penn Quakers in 1897.
Dabo Swinney is being compared to Nick Saban as the best College Football coach in the game and his Tigers are in the middle of a dynasty period. It’s tough to argue against that when Clemson has two National Championships in the last three years and four-straight ACC Titles.
Swinney has a nose for quality players and annually lures in four and five-star talent to come play for Clemson. Countless players from the program continue to take their talents to the NFL after being groomed by Swinney and his assistants. This year’s NFL Draft could potentially feature three players from the defensive line going in the first round.
In the past 25 years only Nebraska and Alabama have repeated as National Champions. Clemson has the opportunity this fall to become the third program to accomplish that rare feat. The week two clash at home against Texas A&M, followed by the road trip to Syracuse, which was Clemson’s last regular season loss, will be challenging. However, the schedule becomes a cakewalk as the season progresses.
The original Death Valley has become one of the most intimidating venues to play at in all of College Football and Clemson is riding a 15-game home winning streak.
Talk about a load of riches on the roster, Clemson returns true sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who’ll be the Heisman favorite to start the 2019 season. The Georgia native threw for 3,280 yards, 32 touchdowns and four interceptions last season. The scary thought is Lawrence was limited early on last season and had to split snaps with Kelly Bryant the first three games before winning the starting job. He was also knocked out of the game against Syracuse. Just imagine Lawrence’s numbers if he takes the majority of the Tigers’ snaps this fall.
The Tigers have an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions and junior running back Travis Etienne is one of the most electrifying players in the country. Backup running backs Lyn-J Dixon and Tavien Feaster combined for nearly a 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, making Clemson’s backfield arguably the nation’s best for 2019.
Three of Clemson’s top four pass catchers return and this receiving corp can stretch the field on opposing defenses with ease. Tee Higgins, Amari Rodgers and Justyn Ross combined for 160 receptions, 2,511 yards and 25 touchdowns last season.
Protecting Lawrence will once again be vital for the team’s overall success and Clemson’s offensive line only allowed 17 sacks through 15 games last season. John Simpson, Tremayne Anchrum and Sean Pollard all return for the big boys up front and have combined for 53 career starts.
Replacing all the studs on defense will be tough or any team, especially the defensive line. Still, the Tigers return two of their top-four leading tacklers in Isaiah Simmons and Tanner Muse. The two combined for 173 tackles, including 12 stops from behind the line of scrimmage and three interceptions. Brent Venables is considered one of the best Defensive Coordinators in the game and he’ll center the front seven around Simmons and the secondary around Muse.
With the Tigers it’s all about family and both Swinney’s and Venables’s son aslo plays for the team. With all that being said, Clemson has the talent, experience and production to go undefeated again this fall and will likely be on a crash collision course with Alabama for a second-straight National Championship Game battle.