Clemson kicks off their spring practice later today and there are several questions that have to be answered. Here we look at the 5 biggest questions Clemson has on offense. Despite returning a large majority of snaps and players on offense, there are several problem areas that will go a long way towards not only determining Clemson's success in 2016, but 2017 as well.
1. How does the OL look?
This one may always be the biggest question, but after an excellent 2015 the Clemson OL is going to have to replace 2 starters in Eric McClain and Joe Gore. Backup C Ryan Norton also leaves. The 2015 OL was fairly thin, and replacing Gore and McClain could be difficult. Clemson definitely has some talent waiting in Jake Fruhmorgen, Maverick Morris, Taylor Hearn, and Justin Falcinelli all potential candidates for snaps. Nevertheless, any upgrade these guys will be remains to be seen.
2. Who backs up Deshaun Watson?
After a 2014 season where Clemson didn't seem to have a functioning QB in some games, 2016 should be an embarrassment of riches. Deshaun Watson will once again lead the Clemson offense, but the race to be QB #2 may be the most intriguing of all. Nick Schuessler was technically the backup in 2015, but the meaningful backup snaps went to Kelly Bryant. Tucker Israel will also be back to compete after redshirting his freshman year and freshman Zerrick Cooper will eventually be on campus.
This gives Clemson 5 QBs going into 2016 and with two highly touted prospects in the 2017 class it seems likely one of the losers will transfer. Schuessler and Watson will both be gone after this year, and Bryant or Israel would be a likely candidate to transfer. Right now it seems like the big question will be how Bryant has progressed as a thrower. He has great running ability but some of his passing decisions were..... poor to put it lightly.
3. What happens if Wayne Gallman gets injured?
Wayne Gallman is an absolute workhorse, but he needs a capable backup. Zac Brooks got nearly 200 snaps as a backup, but no one else was even close. Ideally Gallman can have a capable backup to not only rest him, but provide a dynamic 1-2 punch. Adam Choice, Tyshon Dye, and CJ Fuller will have all spring to set themselves up for Fall Camp. All three have some potential, but a combination of injuries and poor play have prevented them from seizing the backup job.
Also worth noting is that the backup job will likely go to the better blocker in pass protection. The ability for the RB to block a blitzer is critical to the success of Clemson's offense and will likely prevent 1-2 of these guys from seeing as much time on the field as they would like.
4. Is Mike Williams finally healthy?
I think every Clemson fan had a moment of panic when Mike Williams broke his neck to start the 2015 season. Williams was set for a phenomenal year as our #1 receiver. His recovery was long and slow, not because of setbacks but because of the injury. Spring practice will be a time for him to to show just where he is in that recovery period, and also time for Williams to get an extended workout with Deshaun Watson. Just imagine what the possibilities could be if Williams is 100%.
5. Who transfers?
We already mentioned there could be a QB transfer this offseason, but there could be other transfers as players see where they are on the depth chart after spring ball. Clemson currently has 11 WRs on scholarship and could have the best 2017 class in the country. Players like Shadell Bell, Adrien Dunn, and even Trevion Thompson could consider the possibility of transferring. Thompson would be a large shock, but for Bell and Dunn it could be a smart career move.
Elsewhere Clemson does have 6 TEs. Jordan Leggett will leave after the 2016 season, but losing another one to transfer wouldn't be a surprise, nor a bad thing necessarily.