Clemson is prepared for another great season that hopefully ends with a trip to Tampa in the College Football Playoff Championship Game. Lets take a look at the 2016 season By the Numbers.
1.05: Difference in millions of dollars between Dabo Swinney’s 2015 and 2016 salaries. Clemson announced a new deal for Swinney on April 11 — two days after the conclusion of the spring game. The Tigers’ head coach will make a pro-rated $4.55 million this season, and his salary will escalate to $5.65 million by 2021. Last season, when his team played for the national title, Swinney made $3.5 million, putting him outside the top 20 among FBS college football coaches. With this new deal, he will rank eighth in that group.
4: The number of times in the last five seasons Clemson has opened — and closed — its schedule against an SEC team. Auburn will play in Death Valley next year followed by games with Texas A&M in back-to-back seasons.
7: Early enrollees that participated in spring practice prior to their respective freshman seasons. The group includes linebacker Tre Lamar, who led all players with 10 tackles, and defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, who registered a sack. The rest of the crew includes offensive linemen Tremayne Anchrum and Sean Pollard, defensive linemen LaSamuel Davis and Nyles Pinckney and linebacker Shaq Smith. Lamar, Lawrence, Pollard and Smith were each named high school All-Americans by at least one group.
8: Last season Clemson became the eighth team in FBS history to win 14 games. When Alabama won the national championship game, it became the ninth.
11: Of the 17 all-conference players on the roster last season, 11 return.
17: During Clemson’s school-record 17-game win streak, the Tigers outscored their opponents more than 2-to-1 (640-303).
20: With 703 football wins, Clemson enters the 2016 season 20th all-time in college football victories.
21: Including four SIAA Conference championships shortly after the turn of the 20th century and two SoCon championships in the 1940s, Clemson has won 21 league titles.
28: Seasons since the football program has won consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference championships. In 2015, Swinney became the third coach to win multiple ACC titles at Clemson, joining Frank Howard and Danny Ford. The other two each won back-to-back conference championships twice in their respective careers. Further, both won three straight conference championships once in their careers including the 1986-88 trifecta earned by Ford that marks the most recent string of titles. Swinney is aiming for his second straight ACC crown this season.
39: The number of years since Clemson’s only game against a Pitt team in the 1977 Gator Bowl.
50: The string of victories under Dabo Swinney snapped by Alabama in the fourth quarter of the national championship game. Clemson is 50-1 under the coach when it leads after three quarters.
52: Lettermen returning from last season. That number represents 65 percent of the letter winners from the 2015 squad. Included in that number are 14 returning starters, eight of which play on the offensive side of the football. The Tigers lost five of their top six tacklers from last year’s defense, and six players left school to enter the NFL Draft with eligibility remaining on that side of the ball.
60: Seasons since Clemson has played a regular-season football game on a Friday. The Tigers will travel to Boston College on Oct. 7 to take on the Eagles as part of the ACC’s ESPN Friday night package. It will be the first Friday tilt for the program since November 16, 1956, when the Tigers traveled to Miami (Fla.). Ironically, Clemson’s most recent victory on a Friday night came at Boston College on Halloween in 1952, a 13-0 win. Both of Clemson’s non-Saturday games — including a matchup with Georgia Tech on Thursday, Sept. 22 — will be on the road.
64: Combined starts for all returners on the 2016 defense. The Tigers lost a great deal of experience on that side of the football, with seven starters either graduating or entering the NFL Draft. They took with them a combined 165 starts, leaving less than 28 percent of all career starts on the unit behind. Among defensive returners, only linebacker Ben Boulware and cornerback Cordrea Tankersley started all 15 games in 2015, while defensive tackles Carlos Watkins (14) and Scott Pagano (9) are also back in the fold.
80.9: Percentage of Clemson’s 7,718 yards from scrimmage last season that returns for 2016. Of that total 6,241 yards, it includes a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Wayne Gallman and Deshaun Watson and a 900-yard receiver in Artavis Scott. In fact, 11 of the 13 players who accounted for at least 100 yards from scrimmage during Clemson’s march to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game are back for another season.
380: Tackles for loss Clemson has accumulated over the past three seasons. In each of those years, the Tigers have led the nation in that category by double digits. Furthermore, that cumulative total is more than 60 tackles for loss ahead of every other school in the nation. Those teams featured eight different players — all of whom currently on NFL rosters — boasting 13 individual seasons of 10 or more tackles for loss. The Tigers must replace three such players from last season: Kevin Dodd, B.J. Goodson and Shaq Lawson.
.453: Winning percentage in 2015 of Clemson’s opponents this season. The Tigers will face five teams that played in bowl games a year ago, including difficult road tests at 10-win Florida State and at Auburn in the season opener. Even though six of Clemson’s FBS opponents finished with three or four wins last season, one of those is Georgia Tech, a team expected to be markedly improved and whose home field has been a thorn in Clemson’s side for more than a decade.
686: Number of days between the 2014 game against Boston College and the 2016 season opener. That span also marks the length of time Adam Choice will have spent off the football field once the season begins. The rising junior injured his knee while acting as a wildcat quarterback, a role that presumably would have continued to feature him throughout his freshman campaign. Now, Choice is locked in a high-profile battle with C.J. Fuller to back up Wayne Gallman in the backfield — a role he held prior to the injury — and his much-anticipated return should buoy the backfield at Clemson this season.
.735: Dabo Swinney’s career-win percentage as head coach. Only John Heisman (.833), Charley Pell (.804) and Danny Ford (.760) won a higher percentage of their games at Clemson among those who coached for multiple seasons. For additional perspective, Swinney’s current tenure — seven full seasons, plus his interim season — has lasted longer than Heisman’s and Pell’s combined (6). Last season, Swinney also became the fourth man to coach 100 games at Clemson, joining Frank Howard (295), Ford (129) and Tommy Bowden (117). Swinney has coached 102 games in his first seven-plus years with the school.
—This is an insert from TCI’s preseason magazine “Unfinished Business — An insider look at Clemson’s 2016 season.” If you did not get an issue of “Unfinished Business” you can order one here.