Despite losing 10 starters from last year’s national runner-up team, one coach feels Clemson is still miles ahead of anyone in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“If you’re looking for a question mark, that’s maybe one, but they’re not going to drop that far off,” an anonymous coach told Athlon Magazine in its preseason publication.
The opposing coach feels that way because its not who the Tigers lost as much as who they return. It all starts at quarterback, where Clemson returns Trevor Lawrence. The junior is 25-1 as a starter and has led the Tigers to one national championship and two appearances in the national championship game.
Clemson also returns running back Travis Etienne, wide receiver Amari Rodgers, tight end J.C. Chalk and left tackle Jackson Carman on offense.
Granted the Tigers just lost wide receiver Justyn Ross for the season after having surgery on his back and spin and Tee Higgins has moved on to the NFL. They also lost four seniors on the offensive line in John Simpson, Sean Pollard, Gage Cervenka and Tremayne Anchrum.
But none of that seems to matter to the anonymous coach. He says Clemson has the pieces already in place to reload.
“They’re going to be a national title contender again this year, and they’re still a good mile ahead of anyone in the conference. It’s really that simple,” he said. “Trevor Lawrence is a Heisman-caliber quarterback. That’s obvious. Tony Elliott is a great play-caller. The offensive line is kind of simple, they’re so skilled they don’t have do much in terms of scheme.”
Defensively, the entire front four is back, along with linebacker James Skalski and cornerback Derion Kendrick. Safety Nolan Turner, who has played a lot in the last two seasons, returns at free safety.
Then of course, there is defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
“What people don’t understand about Brent is that they’re stripping that thing down and rebuilding it year to year. It is really amazing,” the anonymous coach said.
Clemson is scheduled to kick off the 2020 football season on Sept. 3 at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
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