SportSouth Originals presents Under the Lights: Clemson Football (via FSNSouth)
With camp closed, the most glaring question for this team (starting QB) has been answered. There are several other big questions that I still have regarding this team.
We have all heard good things out of the secondary. Will the loss of Michael Hamlin play a big part in the secondary? Chris Chancellor has openly declared this group (and specifically the corner positions that include he and C Butler) as a lock-down group. This seems to be a reasonable statement with the experience that both have in their Clemson careers. I have concerns over experienced depth for this unit, specifically in the safety positions. After McDaniel and Chambers, there are nothing but RS Freshmen to fill the strong and free safety positions.
I really do not know how I could have confidence in the OL this season until I actually see it. We have not played well up front in quite a while, and were particularly poor up front last season. Hopefully some cohesion will exist between the group as it is a young group and has been together for a while now. Thomas Austin is definitely the leader...I am eager to see how the younger guys (Walker, McClain, Page, etc...) react this season. It is encouraging to hear Fat Brad say some positive things (see Dr. B's post from earlier) about this group coming together.
Some concern can be seen with the group of LB's we have here. I am big on Brandon Maye and like Scotty Cooper. The rest of the folks I really cannot give a fair opinion on. Stanley Hunter's loss was particularly disappointing, as he was hyped pretty well by the in-state media when he came to Clemson from Byrnes. I am concerned about toughness and depth with this group. One thing to watch will be whether the staff gives this group an extra athlete with Alexander or Sapp giving support to the linebacking corps during normal defensive sets, and C Diehl as a possible goal-line D participant.
WR: I think as the season progresses, we will be fine here...but this is dictated by the play calling. If we let Ford run vertically, he will be effective. I have high hopes for Xavier Dye. He is a big target who should have enough experience to step in and make some big plays this year. There have been some concerns throughout camp, and these are a little concerning. Inconsistency and the inability to avoid critical drops has plagued the Tigers over the past few years, so I hope that the receiving corps will gel (this should be aided by Kyle Parker getting the majority of the first team reps from here on out).
QB: No experience, plenty of talent. It has been well documented that both Korn and Parker have tons of talent. However, talent alone will not win football games. I do like both of these guys as leaders and I think that both will have the full attention of their teammates when on the field.
DL: Obvious strength of the defense. We are so loaded there the C. Brown will redshirt. I am particularly excited to see the progress Bowers has made over the off-season and hopefully a healthy Ricky Sapp for the entire year.
TE: I don't know how Swinney plans to use this group, but any use would be better than Tom and his staff.
RB: Spiller has received enough hype--everyone knows he is the real deal and ran extremely hard last year. Ellington is supposed to be a Spiller-type back. Everything that I have heard about him leads me to expect a lot of excitement. Jamie Harper has had a good camp and had a lot of positives coming into fall practice. You should see a steady dose of Spiller/Harper all season long (if you don't, we are in deep shit). I think everyone is eager to see R. Taylor in some short yardage situations. This guy is HUGE and we all hope he stays healthy and has a good senior campaign. As of this blog, Taylor was held out of practice Tuesday with a pulled hamstring.
The kicking game may be the biggest wildcard on this list. Richard Jackson has yet to live up to the 65 yard hype he had coming out of high school. His ineligibility for the bowl game further questions whether he wants to be a football player or not. Both he and Spencer Benton have struggled in the spring and in camp, causing Swinney to describe his confidence level in the kicking game as "Not very confident".
If you don't have a defense and a kicker, you aren't worth a shit. The kicker issues are definitely troubling.
There is a "Salute to Stanley". I think this is a nice gesture to
Stanley Hunter. His health issues have been documented here earlier
Swinney said several players have asked to alternate wearing Stanley Hunter's No. 17 jersey throughout the season. Hunter was a reserve linebacker last season, but was forced to quit football this summer due to
epilepsy. Swinney said Brandon Maye will wear the jersey the first game,
Willy Korn has asked to wear it for the second game at Georgia Tech.
CJ Spiller was named to the Maxwell Award watch list. If he can remain healthy, we should see a special season out of this guy.
Finally, the Clemson basketball team is making some noise on the national scene, even before the season starts (I can rarely remember a national media--or local media for that matter--outlet giving the Tigers this much talk in August). Clemson will host College (basketball) Gameday prior to the Clemson-Duke matchup on January 23. This just shows you what a tremendous job OP has done in his time at Clemson. I would have laughed a few years ago if anyone would have told me CU would be this good at basketball. Great job OP!