2015 ACC Football Preview: Clemson Tigers

2014 Record: 10-3 (6-2 ACC)

Returning Starters: Offense (6) Defense (3)

Key Players: QB Deshaun Watson, WR Mike Williams, WR Artavis Scott

The Clemson Tigers are somewhat of an enigma heading into the 2015 season. While many consider them the favorites to win the ACC, I’m still sitting here not so sure how to evaluate this team.

On offense, the Tigers should be absolutely lethal. That is, if QB Deshaun Watson can stay on the field. Despite injuries ravaging his freshman campaign in 2014, Watson completed 68% of his passes for nearly 1500 yards with 14 touchdowns to only two interceptions. He has two outstanding pass-catching targets in junior Mike Williams and sophomore Artavis Scott. Last year as a sophomore, Williams compiled 1,030 yards and six touchdowns last year, while true freshman Artavis Scott burst on the scene by leading the team with 76 catches and a team leading eight touchdown receptions. At running back, sophomore Wayne Gallman will look to build on a strong freshman campaign that saw him rush for 769 yards and four touchdowns. There will be three new starters on the offensive line, and how well they are able to protect Deshaun Watson and keep him upright will go a long way in determining just how good the offense can be in 2015. There may be a bit of a learning curve for new starters Eric Mac Lane and Tyrone Crowder on the interior offensive line, but if they get things figured out, there should not be too much of an issue.

Defensively, it’s a complete rebuild. The Tigers lost their best defensive player, linebacker Vic Beasley, to the NFL and will have to replace eight starters off of one of college football’s best defenses from 2014. While the front seven is almost completely new, the strength of the Tigers’ revamped defense should have been in the secondary. However, with the loss of defensive back Korrin Wiggins to a torn ACL this past week, the defensive backfield is now in flux as well. There will be many new faces that will emerge on defense if the Tigers really want to get to a conference championship, but one name to watch in this group is redshirt sophomore cornerback Mackensie Alexander. He started all 13 games for the Clemson defense in 2014, finishing the year with 21 tackles and six pass breakups.

But this doesn’t tell the whole story. Take a look at my podcast with Mark Rogers, as we discussed in full, the Clemson Tigers and their potential for this upcoming season.


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