Four-Year Trend: 2008 (7-6), 2009 (9-5), 2010 (6-7), 2011 (10-4)
Notable Player: Sammy Watkins. It is not often you describe a freshman as NFL ready, though Clemson’s star receiver is undoubtedly that. Watkins was a first-team All American in 2011, as a freshman. He amassed 1,450 total yards and 12 touchdowns on 114 touches. Scarily, he did this while not being 100 percent healthy for much of the season. He made headlines with an offseason drug arrest though that story should fade quickly once he hits the field.
Top Newcomers: Travis Blanks (DB), Germone Hopper (WR), Carlos Watkins (DT), Travis Blanks (S)
Circle This Game: Clemson at Florida State (Sept. 22) Florida State will want to avenge last season’s loss. This is the ultimate test for Clemson’s suspect lines on both sides of the ball. This could decide the ACC Atlantic division.
Clemson Implosion Week: Clemson is known for inexplicable losses. Keep an eye on the Wake Forest game on Oct. 25. It is a Thursday game, on the road directly after Virginia Tech.
Why We Like Them: The Tigers’ offense should take another step forward in its second year under Chad Morris. The Tigers return promising junior quarterback Tajh Boyd. Sammy Watkins is just one of the weapons in a deep, explosive receiver corps. If the offensive line holds up, this team will score points.
Best-Case Scenario: Reconstruction on both sides of the lines goes swimmingly. Their offense is too much for opponents to handle. Brent Venables makes use of the talented defenders recruited in the last two classes. Clemson rolls through a mediocre ACC without suffering an inexplicable collapse against poor opposition. They finish 10-2 and sneak past the Seminoles into the ACC Title Game.
Worst-Case Scenario: Clemson gets pushed around on both lines and it hamstrings their season. They lose to every team they should lose to, and are upset a couple of times by weaker opponents. The Tigers finish 6-6 and Dabo Swinney’s seat becomes uncomfortably hot.
Projected Bowl: Champs Sports
Previously: Dabo Swinney Gets Rattled By Comment Steve Spurrier Never Made
Previously: Clemson Rewards Erratic, Mediocre Dabo Swinney With Contract Extension
Previously: Consensus No. 1 Overall Recruit Robert Nkemdiche Commits to Clemson