September 5, 2015

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. Wofford

It’s here.

The day we’ve all been waiting for since the Tigers stepped off the field in late December after a dominating performance over Oklahoma has finally arrived.

Game time in Death Valley is here.

The opponent isn’t sexy. The national media won’t be talking about Clemson and Wofford, but this is the type of opponent Clemson needs as they bring Deshaun Watson back from injury and break in two new offensive coordinators and a bevy of freshmen.

What should Clemson fans want to see Saturday afternoon? Let’s take a look.

WHEN: September 5, 2015 at 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: Clemson Memorial Stadium


*DESHAUN WATSON – Watson was one of the best of in the country last season when healthy. He played in eight games last season, including five as the starter, and completed 93-of-137 passes for 1,466 yards and 14 touchdowns (two interceptions). His passer rating of 188.7 led all quarterbacks who attempted at least 125 passes. Can the Gainesville (GA) native return to freshman form? How much will he trust his surgically repaired knee and how much will the coaches allow him to run in week one?

*OFFENSIVE IDENTITY – Clemson was looking to be a smash-mouth spread team under former offensive coordinator Chad Morris (now the head coach at SMU), but always seemed to be a pass-first offense. How will the offense change under first-year co-coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott? Clemson’s offense has a talented and deep group of running backs led by Wayne Gallman, who rushed for 769 yards last season, but they also have a game-changing group of wide receivers with starters Charone Peake, Mike Williams, and Artavis Scott. Throw in the tight ends group of Jordan Leggett, Jay Jay McCullough, Cannon Smith, Milan Richard and Garrett Williams, and Watson has plenty of offensive weapons.

*THE NEWBIES – Clemson has over 40 freshmen and redshirt freshmen on the roster this season, and many of them will be counted on in crunch time, but there are none more important than rookie left tackle Mitch Hyatt who will be starting his first game Saturday. Hyatt is the first freshman to open the season at left tackle since 1944 when Phil Prince started the opener against Presbyterian. The Georgia native is talented but how will he handle his first collegiate snaps?
Wide receivers Trevion Thompson, Deon Cain, Ray-Ray McCloud, Hunter Renfrow; quarterback Kelly Bryant and offensive linemen Jake Fruhmorgen, Taylor Hearn and Justin Falcinelli should all see significant playing time.

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins will be counted on heavily to shore up the inside of the defensive line and step in during D.J. Reader’s absence is he up for the challenge?

Dane Rogers Austin Bryant, Albert Huggins, Jabril Robinson, Richard Yeargin, Kendall Joseph, Judah and J.D. Davis, Jalen Williams, Van Smith, Jefferie Gibson and Mark Fields should also see action on Saturday.

*DEFENSIVE DROPOFF? – Clemson lost playmakers at every position off of 2014’s defensive squad, will there be a significant drop off in 2015? Guys like Vic Beasley, Deshawn Williams, Grady Jarrett, Corey Crawford, Stephone Anthony and Robert Smith are all playing in the NFL now. How will Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd do in their first game leading the defense? Can B.J. Goodson and Ben Boulware replace Anthony and Tony Steward?

*SPECIAL TEAMS – If you had asked me what my two biggest questions were coming into 2015, I would’ve told you offensive line and special teams. My question about the offensive line have somewhat been answered, but the concern about special teams has only grown. Greg Huegel – the redshirt freshman from Blythewood (SC) – will be making his first start at placekicker and kickoff specialist. How will he handle the pressure of field goal kicking? The Tigers have to replace punter Bradley Pinion, who is now with the San Francisco 49ers. And, oh, by the way, Clemson is also breaking in a new long snapper and holder. Can they work out the chinks over the next two weeks before heading to Louisville for a Thursday night contest?

WHAT WILL HAPPEN – Remember 2011 when Clemson barely escaped the Wofford Terriers with an eight-point victory? This game won’t be that close, but it could be closer than Clemson fans would like late in the third quarter. Despite the fact that Wofford bring back 20 starters, Clemson is simply the more talented team.


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess, Nikki Hood

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