Clemson knows what is coming back on offense.
While defensive coordinator Brent Venables and company have examined personnel since the conclusion of last season, co-offensive coordinators Jeff Scott and Tony Elliott are shoring up the fine details of the Tiger offense and looking to implement a talented group of young players in the rotation.
There isn’t another group in the country entering the season with as many expectations as the Clemson offense that racked up 44 points in the College Football Playoff National Championship win over Alabama last season. Entering a new year with more experience and certainty than the 2018 campaign adds security to the 2019 Tigers that was lacking at the start of last year.
Coming into the year in 2018, Clemson entered off a loss in the Sugar Bowl to Alabama that saw a lackluster offensive performance and found itself in a quarterback battle that ultimately led to the rise of Trevor Lawrence and transfer of Kelly Bryant in the fourth week of the season. Now the Tigers are an established balanced attack with potential All-Americans across the board.
Lawrence draws all the headlines for the Tigers, and it’s based purely off of merit. He was the most prolific freshman in 2018 and the first freshman to lead his team to a national title since Jameis Winston. Seen as an NFL-ready arm talent, he is focusing on the details of his game and command of the offense in his second season.
“When you talk about an elite player like Trevor Lawrence, he is looking at some of the minute details. It’s like asking Tiger Woods what he needs to work on,” Scott said.
“He is looking at his footwork in the pocket and taking command of the entire offense. Last year at this time it was not his offense until week five. This is the first time where he has entered knowing he is in charge of the offense.”
Scott is excited to see what the Tigers are returning this season but also eager to see how some of the younger players make their way into the game plan.
“We are blessed that we have a big group of guys that are coming back and are excited about the next group that has been working and waiting for their opportunity,” Scott said. “There are some redshirt freshman and sophomores who have been waiting for their turn.”
The freshman wide receivers are poised to make an impact in year one. Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson Jr. both had tremendous springs and are currently listed as third on the depth chart at wide receiver. Scott and company have also been really impressed by Diondre Overton in the offseason to add to the production expected by Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins.
One question mark is who will step up in the wake of an injury to Amari Rodgers who tore his ACL in the spring. Scott has been impressed by Cornell Powell and his production as he enters the fall set to fill in for Rodgers until he is available later in the season.
Jackson Carman is prepared to fill the shoes of four-year starter Mitch Hyatt in a veteran offensive line. The sophomore who entered college as the top prep offensive lineman in the country is more than capable of manning the crucial left tackle spot after playing significant reps a year ago.
As far as expectations, Scott is not worried about them because this is not Clemson’s first rodeo, and he is confident in the team’s leadership.
“It’s about the younger guys who haven’t really experienced this, but the older guys and offensive linemen have been through it and those expectations are there every day,” Scott said. “We have a target on our back and on our chest. Swinney does a great job on reminding us on how preseason teams and polls don’t matter.”