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Wednesday's Thoughts

What Clemson needs to answer in camp to truly defend its crown?

On Tuesday, Clemson’s players reported for fall camp. Today they will be weighed in and on Thursday practice will begin. It’s that time people as the Tigers begin defense of their 2016 National Championship.

It has been 35 years since a Clemson team came to camp as the defending national champions so it is a different feeling as camp begins compared to years past. However, one thing is certain, if the Tigers want to get back to the College Football Playoff and have an opportunity to defend their crown, then these next three weeks will determine their fate.

Building a successful football team starts in training camp. This is where the new team bonds and makes that ultimate decision that they will do whatever it takes to be successful. We will not know how well the 2017 team will be until they get on the field on Saturdays and have to produce, but if they are to have a chance there are several questions that have to get answered in camp.

Are Hunter Johnson and Zerrick Cooper ready to compete? For Clemson’s quarterback position to be the best it can be, it needs both Cooper and Johnson to seriously push Kelly Bryant over the next three weeks for the job.

How much did they retain from the spring, especially Johnson who enrolled at Clemson this past January so he could get a leg up in the playbook?

In the spring, Bryant came out as the top quarterback primarily due to his knowledge of the playbook. It allowed him to have more command of the offense which in turn helped him be more comfortable in the offense and perform at a consistent level.

If Johnson or Cooper come in and show that same kind of confidence and knowledge in the system, then the consistency will come and it will make everyone better because of it. The harder the choice the Clemson coaches have to make at the end of camp, the better the situation will be for Clemson.

Feaster needs to become the guy at running back. It is great Clemson has running backs like C.J. Fuller and Adam Choice that can come in and carry the load for the Tigers if they need them to. They both have shown in the past they have what it takes to be good running backs at the college level.

However, what Clemson needs is sophomore Tavien Feaster to take the position over in fall camp. There is a reason why the Tigers wanted the 5-star talented out of Spartanburg. They believed he was the future at running back for them.

After a year in the system and learning from Wayne Gallman, it is time for Feaster to prove what he can do and show why Clemson recruited him so hard and believed in him so much. Like Johnson and Cooper at quarterback, Feaster has to prove he can do all of the things they need him to do and do it consistently at a high level and that means pass protection, which has been the biggest issue for him.

If Feaster gets going, so will Clemson’s offense. He gives the offense the best chance to be successful if he turns out to be the kind of running back the coaches think he can be.

Is there a Dwayne Allen or Jordan Leggett at tight end? The stories at tight end the last six years have been great to watch unfold. Dwayne Allen matured to become the best tight end in America right before our eyes, while Jordan Leggett went from being lazy to being a two-time All-American that broke every record he could at Clemson.

So who its next? Who will step up in fall camp and prove they are the next big thing at tight end? The Tigers are loaded with talent at the position, but who has the best chance to be the guy? Milan Richard earned the first-team status after the spring, but tight ends coach Danny Pearman says the job is wide open and he would not be surprised at all to see D.J. Greenlee or Cannon Smith win the job.

The guy who can show he can be a true playmaker in the offense over the next three weeks will win the job. Whoever that guy is, he is going to have to show and prove he is willing to work to be as great as Allen and Leggett were.

How good can Mullen and Wallace be? The competition at boundary corner has been turned up a bit, and the Tigers have two talented sophomores right in the mix and either one could turn out to be one of the best Clemson has ever had.

Trayvon Mullen and K’Von Wallace came out of the spring listed as co-No. 2s behind Ryan Carter at boundary corner, but if both continue to play like they did in the spring, then either one can take over the spot. Also, Carter will more than likely be Clemson’s No. 1 guy at nickel so Mullen and Wallace will have the opportunity to show just how good they can be.

They are both tall and physical corners. A few weeks back, cornerbacks coach Mike Reed was bragging on both and said they both took big steps in the spring and he really likes the upside he saw from each of them. Time will tell in the next three weeks, but if they both play like they did in the spring, then Clemson might be better at the boundary corner position then what most have originally thought.

 

Have you ordered the 2017 Clemson season preview ‘Best is the Standard’ from the staff that covers Clemson football 365 days a year? Order yours today to make sure you get a copy!

 

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