Tigers have to replace 71 percent of its offensive production
Though the national championship game is being played between Ohio State and Alabama tonight, Clemson is working towards its future.
As head coach Dabo Swinney likes to say, the past is in the review mirror and all they need to do is see what is in front of them. They have to have a windshield mentality.
Right now, Swinney and his coaching staff is managing its roster as it tries to figure out what the 2021 roster will look like. There is still some find tuning to go as there are several players who still have not decided on their futures at Clemson.
Those decisions should be officially announced in the next week, especially with third, fourth and fifth-year players having to decide whether they want to make themselves eligible for the 2021 NFL Draft.
However, what we do know is this. The Tigers will have a new starting quarterback, a new starting running back and two new starting wide receivers. They also have to replace a starting left tackle and the verdict is still out on who all is coming back on defense.
But with Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell all moving on, Clemson will have to replace 71 percent of its offensive production in 2021.Those four also contributed to 61.3 percent of the Tigers’ touchdowns in 2020.
The good news is Clemson appears to be in good hands at quarterback. D.J. Uiagalelei did a magnificent job filling in for Lawrence in the Boston College and Notre Dame games after Lawrence tested positive for COVID-19.
Uiagalelei played in 10 of Clemson’s 12 games this past season, including two starts. In Lawrence’s place, Uiagalelei played nearly flawless, completing 59-of-85 passes (69.4 percent) for 781 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for two scores, including a 30-yard touchdown run against Boston College.
Though there is still no word on Justyn Ross’ situation, Clemson will return experienced players at wide receiver in Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson. However, both spent the majority of the season injured, but both have big-play capabilities, and they will want to make up for all the time they missed in 2020.
E.J. Williams made huge strides as a true freshman, especially down the stretch. He finished the season with 24 catches for 306 yards and two touchdowns. His best game against Notre Dame in the ACC Championship Game when he caught four passes for 80 yards and one touchdown, which was a 33-yard catch-and-run while dragging across the middle.
If Ross does return, the wide receiving corps becomes a whole lot more dynamic.
The number one concern for the Tigers will come at running back. Lyn-J Dixon is expected to get his turn with Etienne now moving on to the NFL. He will be in competition with Chez Mellusi and Darien Rencher, or at least it appears to be that way at the moment. Freshman enrollee Will Shipley will also get a chance to compete, as well as Kobe Pace and Michel Dukes.