The Tigers hit the practice fields for the first time Friday evening and start a season they hope ends with a trip to Miami for the Orange Bowl. The last memories the fans have is the Tigers loss to South Florida in Charlotte, but for the players those memories have long ago faded and the focus in on 2011.
The moto for the 2011 Tigers is “One Team One Dream One Clemson”. While the fans have enjoyed vacations at the beach the players have been working hard in record temperatures. The players hope the dividends from the hard summer work will be an ACC Championship.
Leadership won’t be a problem for the Tigers this fall. Tajh Boyd has done all the right things off the field during the offseason. A veteran offensive line returns to help Tajh in his first year as the starter. Rennie Moore, Brandon Thompson, Corico Hawkins, Xavier Brewer and Rashard Hall fill the leadership void on the defense.
Freshmen will have a major impact in 2011 as the Tigers red-shirted 15 last season and bring in their best recruiting class ever. Ten to 12 true freshmen will likely avoid a red-shirt and see playing time this fall.
The offense gets an infusion of talent from 5-star’s Mike Bellamy, Charone Peake and Sammy Watkins. Add Martavis Bryant and a healthy Andre Ellington and you have all of the ingrediants needed for a much improved offense. New offensive coordinator Chad Morris brings an up-tempo offense that should give ACC opponents fits with the playmakers available to the Tigers.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will have a new tool in the toolbox this fall thanks to the nation’s top linebacker class. Expect 5-stars Tony Steward and Stephone Anthonyalong with All-American Lateek Townsend and underrated B.J. Goodson to push for playing time at backer. True freshmen Corey Crawford will be the next great defensive end at Clemson.
As practice starts Friday coaches and fans will hold their breath hoping the Tigers can make it through camp without any significant injuries.
While most of the nation talks about the return of the Seminoles as a national power, the Tigers will be quietly working to put together the pieces of a team that could be the talk of the ACC come November.
It all starts Friday afternoon. Fasten your seatbelts and stay tuned to TCI for full coverage of the Clemson football program in 2011. It could be a very fun ride.