In less than a month the Tigers will hit the practice fields to prepare for the 2011 season. Major changes were made to the offense during the offseason including the hiring of Chad Morris as coordinator.
The Tiger’s ranked No. 88 nationally in total offense in 2010 as they gained 334 yards per game. Clemson’s offense was horrible inside the redzone ranking No. 111 nationally. The Tigers reached the redzone 46 times scoring 25 touchdowns and nine field goals.
Improvement on the offense will be critical if Clemson wants to get back to the ACC Championship. TheClemsonInsider.com takes a look at the keys to improvement for the 2011 offense.
1. Healthy Ellington
The Clemson offense took a major hit when Andre Ellington went down with an injury. Ellington averaged 5.8 yards per carry and rushed for 686 yards and ten touchdowns before the injury.
A healthy Ellington will be a big help to Tajh Boyd as he takes the helm at quarterback. Many expect the Chad Morris offense to lead with the pass, but the Tigers will be run first offense again in 2011. If Ellington can return to the form Clemson’s offense will get a major lift.
2. Impact Freshmen at Receiver
The Tigers really struggled at receiver in 2010. True freshman DeAndre Hopkins became the only playmaker for the Tigers at receiver as the season progressed. Nuke caught 52 passes for 637 yards and four touchdowns in 2010.
During the spring Jaron Brown, Marquan Jones and others got another opportunity to show that they are ready to become playmakers. While there was improvement nobody showed that they are ready to become a consistent playmaker outside of Hopkins.
The good news for Clemson is the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class at receiver is on campus. Sammy Watkins, Charone Peake and Martavis Bryant all have the ability to become major weapons at receiver. The only question is how quickly the freshmen will learn the new offense and earn playing time. For the Tigers to be a major contender for the ACC title the freshmen will need to be ready to make significant contributions by the time Auburn arrives in Death Valley.
Last season the Clemson receivers struggled to get separation. That shouldn’t be a problem in 2011 once the outstanding freshmen contribute.
3. Steady At the Helm
Tajh Boyd is now the leader of the team. How Tajh performs will be a major factor in how successful the Tiger’s are in 2011. Tajh doesn’t have to be great for the Tigers to win, he just needs to be steady and not make too many mistakes.
In his first year as the starter there will be some mistakes by Tajh. The key will be to limit the mistakes and get the ball to the playmakers as much as possible. Thanks to the return of Ellington and the impressive 2011 recruiting class Tajh will have an offense filled with talent at the skill positions.
Chad Morris has said on several occasions that the Tigers may only run a few plays this season, but they will make sure that they execute the ones they run well. If Tajh and the young offensive playmakers can execute the new offense the Tiger’s should be able to light up the scoreboard in 2011.
4. Morris the Man
Clemson fans wanted a new offensive coordinator after 2010 and they got their wish. The success of the Tiger’s offense in 2011 won’t just be on the players.
The success will depend on how coach Morris is able to quickly integrate the freshmen sensations into the offense. If the offense excels it will be difficult for the ACC teams to prepare for the style that will be unique in the ACC.
There is a lot of offseason hype surrounding coach Morris. If he lives up to the hype the future of Clemson’s offense the next few years is very bright.