Fall Camp has ended, classes have started, and Clemson is finally getting ready to start prep for Georgia Tech. But even with so many things settled this year there are still a few things for fans to wonder about heading into the 2019 season. Here are a few:
Who is your most important player on offense this season?
This one is pretty easy. Even with all of the talent around him Trevor Lawrence is the most important player on Clemson’s offense. Yes, Chase Brice did some great things in relief last year, but Trevor Lawrence is a transcendent talent that makes this offense sparkle. Without him Clemson will still be effective, but he can make throws and decisions that maximize the rest of the offense’s talent that no one else can. Lawrence is the difference between another national title and an exit in the semifinals of the playoff.
Who is your most important player on defense this season?
With so many new faces on defense there is a chance for a number of players to step up and contribute. The secondary is going to be critical this year as the linebackers and defensive line bed in. But I’m going with Xavier Thomas as the most important player on this defense. While there is a lot of talent on the defensive line, Clemson needs Thomas to step up and be a difference maker on the line. If he can continue to replicate his fantastic sack against Syracuse from last year, teams will have to account for him. Scheming around him will allow Brent Venables to focus his defense in specific ways which makes the learning curve that much easier.
What should be the biggest change between last year and this year?
The defensive line is going to be the biggest change for Clemson this year. Last year the Power Rangers were a dominant force in the run game and able to create some excellent pressure in the passing game. This year, teams are likely to run on Clemson a bit more. There are still some high expectations for this unit, but it just won’t be as dominant in the run game as last year, and that could lead to some higher-scoring games for Clemson.
What is the most important game on this schedule, and why?
Texas A&M and South Carolina are the big games this year, but FSU is probably the biggest game. No one else on the schedule has the talent on the roster to play with Clemson. FSU does, even with a myriad of problems across almost every position. But when you are close on talent, a bad day by your opponent or everything coming together for you can lead to an upset. A loss against FSU could also cause some problems in the Atlantic Division race as well and that would imperil another playoff appearance.
What is your prediction for W/L record and postseason destination?
It is really hard to see any losses this year. Even the biggest challenges in Texas A&M and South Carolina should be wins for Clemson. But going undefeated is extremely hard. Doing it for two seasons in a row is unheard of. An 11-1 season plus a win in the ACC Championship Game sounds right this year. Of course that will also mean a 5th consecutive trip the College Football Playoff. And that’s where Clemson’s real challenge comes.