Sept. 5, 6pm ESPN360
Head coach: Rick Stockstill
4th year: 17-20
Last season: 5-7, with a win over Maryland 24-14 in Week 2, and were barely beaten by Kentucky (tackled at the 1 yd line for the winning score as time expired). Stock won the Sun Belt in 2007.
Coach Stockstill is hurting in the numbers department, suffering scholarship losses because of the APR numbers years ago.
"We've really played with one hand tied behind our back, so to speak. We've been playing more as a I-AA team, in the numbers department"
But Stock believes his greatest accomplishment has been the increase in the APR performance, which has risen 43 points since they were ranked at the bottom of the NCAA scores in 03-04. Last February was the first time he's been able to sign a full class.
Off. 20, Def. 22, ST 4. 16 starters returning along with 2007 QB Dwight Dasher (2600yds in 07) who has the speed and quickness to be lethal in a spread offense. Like Dantzler, his arm is not particularly strong, but he is quite elusive.
"Dwight (Dasher) has great natural talent and a good feel as a runner and thrower with the potential to be dynamic," said OC Tony Franklin. "Dwight is still learning to be a leader but if he continues to improve he could be a special player
The receiving corps should be the best in the Sun Belt, the O-line is fantastic, the backfield is loaded with speed, the secondary will be among the league’s best, and the pass rush will be improved. It’s all there to go on the best run in the Rick Stockstill era, but that also means the program has to fight its past.
The most notable addition to the staff this offseason has been Offensive Coordinator Tony Franklin, he who was fired at Auburn midseason (I strongly suggest reading this article). This team ran the spread under Stock previously, but Franklin is regarded as a spread guru (he learned under Hal Mumme and Mike Leach) and the changes wont be significant to their scheme. After a fallout with the coaches at Kentucky (Mumme) he started his own coaching clinic site. He later was hired and won at Troy, which is in the same conference as MTSU. His offense is run by Hoover High in Alabama, of the MTV show. The Hoover playbook is available for download here.
Other notable Clemson connections are Les Herrin, LB/DL coach here under Ford, Hatfield, and West, as well as former QB Willie Simmons (RB Coach) and Justin Watts (WR Coach). Roderic Blunt, son of Rodney, is expected to be in the LB rotation as a freshman.
Offensive Preview from CFN
Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Phillip Tanner (6' 211), who has had injury issues over his career, but who should be healthy and ready to go for Clemson. He ran for 714 yards with 15 TDs as well as 13 receptions for 135 and a TD. The rest of their RB corps is built of speedy scatback types, not bruisers like Tanner. All 5 starters return on the OL, and 10 starters overall on O.
Receivers for MTSU are fairly short speedy types similar to Airese Currie or Jacoby Ford, but they return E. King (51rec. 598-4TD), Honeycutt (51rec. 513-3), Beyah (33-550-5). Beyah is the gamebreaker threat to stay with. Only one receiver is 6'4" and he's the 4th man.
Defensive Preview from CFN
Best Defensive Player: Junior FS Jeremy Kellem, leader of a veteran secondary thats the best in their conference. The LB corps returns its best tackler Dan Carmichael as well. Its not expected to be the best D in the Sun Belt, particularly against the run, but has the speed and veterans to stop Clemson should our offense decide to play like the Wake Forest debacle.
The defensive front is rather light, one end is 252, the other is 228, the two tackles are 312 and 263. Only one starting End is over 6'2." The reserves are hardly any different. Clemson should not have an issue pushing this line around, their speed and quickness is the only worry.
The LB corps brings Carmichael, and little else. Freshmen are expected to contribute, they have speed but little experience. Also, while the Secondary is experienced, they are very inconsistent, and Clemson should put up 250 yards or so against them. The defense brings back 6 starters overall.