After a perfect season and national championship win for Clemson, questions surround the Tiger defense and how they will replace the likes of Christian Wilkins, Austin Bryant, Clelin Ferrell, Dexter Lawrence, etc. But, nobody is questioning what they will do offensively.
Clemson returns a wealth of riches offensively losing just two starters, center Justin Facinelli and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow. The continuity has analysts touting the unit as one of the best returning offenses ever.
While the Tigers are not buying into the “way too early” media hype, co-offensive coordinators Tony Elliot and Jeff Scott are certainly glad to maintain continuity from one of the best years on that side of the ball in program history.
Scott spoke to the media Friday following the second day of spring practice and feels like the offensive talent level seems to become more saturated with each passing season which reflects positively on the state of the program.
“I feel like I say that every year and you think ‘is that really true?’ but yeah it really is,” Scott said. “This is the first year we have had 10 scholarship guys and the first three groups are all doing excellent. It’s a lot of fun around here and every group has the opportunity to make plays.”
The biggest returning piece is sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who changed the course of Clemson’s season after earning the starting job prior to the Syracuse game. After passing for 3,280 yards, 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions as a freshman, he is on everybody’s short list to win the Heisman Trophy.
Last season, the spring and fall camps were dominated by quarterback battles but now the Tigers know who their starter is. With a wealth of experience, you don’t have to start back at square one.
“It gives you freedom with what you do offensively, even though we are starting over we are starting a little bit higher level with a guy like Trevor being as talented as he is,” Scott said. “There is a difference with him in year two compared to year one and the conversations that we are able to have with him,” he said.
It isn’t just experience at quarterback either, Clemson gets four of its front five back in 2019 as well as nearly its entire receiving core with starting tailback Travis Etienne. The maturity allows you to continue where you left off and in this case you pick up in a pretty good spot.
“Those guys up front and all of that experience we are having conversations that are you normally have late in fall camp we are having in spring practice,” Scott said. “Being able to do more and strain them mentally are the things that are better.”
That offensive experience breeds leadership and Clemson is in good shape there too. Scott has noticed the older guys coaching up freshmen and getting excited when they succeed and that’s the difference for him. It allows for flexibility in play calling and less need for micromanagement.
The sustainable culture at Clemson has yielded a program that builds upon itself, a cycle that so far has only led to better and better results. But, there is still a lot of time between now and August 29th when the Tigers open at home with Georgia Tech.