Early Fall Look at the 2010 Tiger Squad

Finally, it is here. Fall football is on the cusp. That means that we no longer have to debate uniforms and who is or is not a true fan and can get down to the dirty (although, we are opinionated and get pissed pretty easily, so you may see some more "extracurricular commentary" in the pipe line).

I will give the disclaimer that I was working independently and, at times, in parallel with Dr. B’s earlier work, so some views may be duplicated below.

 

The big question I always hear on the street is: "Figurefour, in all your infinite wisdom about anything and everything in the universe ultraverse, what is going to happen to the 2010 Tiger football squad." Well folks, that is the question and fortunately, I think I have the (preseason) answers. Just hit the jump to see what I’m generally thinking as we head into August practice.

--also, on a side note, in an effort to cut down on dumb spelling errors, I have been using an outside word processor to craft this and other articles.  These have not always imported or C&P'ed as well as I would have liked at times, so please bear with me if something is way out of line.

 

 

 

The Tigers will be a little better than most folks out there think. Clemson, if we can get our act together at the wide receiver position and stay healthy up front, can be a pretty good football team. Here are some general thoughts going into the fall. Beware, we will get into the nitty-gritty and will be brutally honest as we move through the off-season and into the regular season.  Also, don't take too much from the popular media over the next few weeks as you really won't get a good feel for what we really have until preparation begins for an actual opponent.

What are we looking at here at STS? I can’t speak for the good Dr., but will give my opinion. We gave the rookies (particularly the coaches) a break here at STS, and that will all change this season. Last year we saw improvement and will expect to become more consistent over the course of the entire season in 2010.  I really expect improvement out of Billy Napier and think that we will not see the same problems to start the year in '10 that we saw last year. Likewise, I think that Dabo has figured out how to better manage things (media, players, coaches, schemes, etc…). We will be looking critically at our wide receivers coach, Jeff Scott. Each of these three guys got a mulligan last season but will be fair game for criticism after each man has spent a full season in his current role.

Coach J. Scott and our receivers group will be looked at closely all season because of the lack of production we have gotten out of this group recently. To put it bluntly, our receivers (the guys who were here last season, as I cannot accurately discuss Freshmen) are less than adequate if we want to take steps forward as a program. We discussed the shortcomings with this position over and over again. I really don’t know if too much has changed (especially with the upperclassmen) since this time last year (

here is what we thought at that time) at the receiver position other than Jacoby Ford is now a Raider.

I really hope that we I am overly concerned because this offense will be limited if Kyle Parker has no one he can depend upon to throw the ball. If Clemson ends up with a static rotation of Dye, Clear, and Ashe, we will be in for a long year throwing the football. We need exponential improvement from other veterans at this position and will rely upon some young guys to show their skills early on.

We are obviously interested in how a young guy like DeAndre Hopkins will perform this season. He has turned some heads during voluntary 7 on 7 drills this summer. We are also curious if a guy like Jaron Brown or Marquan Jones can live up to their "hyped talent" and be productive members of this position group.

Kyle Parker coming back is a big deal, make no mistake about that one. Parker has a cannon and if he can improve on his accuracy issues will be very good. Coach Swinney has openly discussed his potential future in the NFL. While I am not sure how much of this talk was the salesman in Dabo coming out, it is obvious that Parker is a talented athlete. I, like most other folks out there, think that his height (and baseball career) could keep him out of the pro game. However, we really don’t care at this moment about such and are only focused on Clemson’s 2010 football season and think that KP gives Clemson a solid player under center.

Not having to run another Freshman QB out to start the season (again) is beneficial for this football program. Also knowing that this is probably Parker’s last season in Tigertown assures the coaches that they will absolutely have to slam Tajh Boyd into more games to assure that he has experience in anticipation of Parker forgoing his final two years of eligibility.

While we have a great deal of uncertainty in the pass catchers at the WR slot, Clemson was able to introduce the tight end into the mix more often last season. Clemson’s best pass catcher was tight end Michael Palmer. TE Dwayne Allen gives us lots of hope (and at this point our biggest hope) in the pass catching portion of the game.

Allen is more naturally (i.e., pure athletic skills) talented than his predecessor and if he catches the ball half as well as Michael Palmer did we are in good shape. Allen is a Shannon Sharpe type of guy who has the talent to line up in a three point stance, can be flex out, or be placed in the slot to be a viable threat. The coaching staff has been jacked up about this guy for a while now and insists that Allen has all the tools to be the best tight end in school history. With all this talent, we expect a lot out of this guy this season and will be watching closely to assure that the coaches are getting everything they can out of this potential star both in the passing game and through his run blocking.

The biggest talent loss from ‘09 is obviously Spilldog. C. J. Spiller is a special player that we all know tons about, thus I will not bore you with the highlights of Spiller’s Clemson career. Spiller’s replacements, we think, will do a fine job in the backfield. Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington are two fine backs who have differing running styles. I am really big on Ellington, as he has great quickness and explosion when hitting holes. Ellington ripped off several nice gains last season by locating the hole, immediately hitting it, then getting through it without dancing around or trying to get too cute. Harper was a little tentative last season running the ball but did show glimmers of his the hyped greatness bestowed upon him coming into school. Again, I honestly believe that Clemson will be just fine at the running back position in 2010.

Up front offensively, we have a handful or so who appear to be ready. The loss of Wilson Norris eats into our depth and I will be extremely concerned if any starter goes down this season. Of course everyone out there knows STS’s views regarding offensive lineman recruiting and development, so I will spare you from hearing more about these concerns. Hopefully this group can stay healthy and has matured/developed enough that we can maintain consistency at the LOS.

Defensively, Clemson is probably as good or better than last season. We obviously lost a couple veteran corners but replace them with guys who have gotten quality snaps over the past few years. Up front, we should be jam-up. Losing Sapp to the graduation and Jamie Cumbie to off-the-field shenanigans will impact our front four. However, we do expect this to be a quality group if we can maintain proper fundamental play.

Our secondary is fine also. In fact, Dr. B. will tell you straight up that Hall is one of the best players in America. The problem that Clemson will face is the same one we saw last season…linebacker play. Clemson cannot endure the some of the (lack of) fundamental play we saw last season at this position. I would like to at least be in the position to complain about technique, but last year’s crew was so far out of the play at times it is useless to talk about such things. Hopefully a full off-season allowed Steele to make improvements here.

One thing that has to improve is the Clemson kicking game. Richard Jackson will need to get a little more control to go along his booming leg. That and missing extra points is unacceptable.

On the topic of special teams, losing Spiller will be most felt by our kick return teams. Spiller could--and did-break big ones week in and week out. When Spiller did not take it to the house, he often forced the opponents to kick away from him. This threat gave Clemson excellent field position all season even when C. J. wasn’t able to even field a kick.

Here is what the WWL and some in-state fish-wraps think about the Tigers as we head into 2010:

 

The State, ESPN, P&C

 

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