Winning a national championship last season was the end of a remarkable run for Clemson, which included that national championship and 60 wins over the last five seasons. The end, of course, was climaxed by a 35-31 win over Alabama for the national championship and a final victory lap by QB DeShaun Watson, who is now playing for the Houston Oilers of the National Football League
How can Clemson top last season? Well, folks, they can't. Not that coach Dabo Swinney's team won't have a say in the matter. But they must again work their ways through the shark invested waters of the Atlantic Coast Conference which includes Florida State and Louisville. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
They must deal with Auburn, which has national championship ambitions of its own, in September, although that game is at Clemson.
And perhaps most significantly, they must find a replacement for Watson There is talent in all areas of the roster. Swinney knows how to recruit better than he knows how to coach, which isn't bad. But talent can't make up for inexperience, at least not at the start.
The new QB, which was announced earlier this week is junior Kelly Bryant, whose career numbers are 12 of 23 for 75 yards. ""He earned it,'' said Swinney in announcing the decision of the training camp battle between Bryant, freshman Hunter Johnson and redshirt freshman Zerrick Cooper. ""This part of camp is over and Kelly won it.''
Bryant will have a veteran offensive line, with two All ACC players, guard Tyrone Crowder and tackle Mitch Hyatt, he will have talent and depth at WR and RB. And most important, Clemson will have a defense that is led by a pre-season all American linemen in DT Christian Wilkins.
The question mark is the QB. Can Bryant get up to speed to deal not only with Auburn, Louisville, and Florida State and maybe a team like Miami or Virginia Tech in the ACC title game and then the playoffs.
The feeling here is that the Tigers will stumble at least once and maybe twice, which won't be fatal, but will keep them out of the title picture--for this season at least.[/membership]