Prior to the 2020 football season, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said the tight ends would be more of a factor in the passing game than they have been in recent years.
He was right. They were.
However, one can make an argument the Tigers still did not reach their full potential in guys such as Braden Galloway and Davis Allen. The two made plays, but their big plays faded in and out throughout the season and it never appeared Clemson was consistently getting the production it needed from its tight ends.
Who is to blame for this? It is hard to say. The play caller is the easy answer, but the players deserve some responsibility too. For whatever the reason, the tight end position just was not a big part of the Clemson attack in 2020 as everyone had hoped.
The Tigers’ four tight ends—Galloway, Allen, J.C. Chalk and Jaelyn Lay—combined to catch 50 passes for 664 yards and seven touchdowns. Those are pretty good numbers and are definitely better than what the tight end position has produced in each of the last four seasons.
However, former tight end Jordan Leggett hauled in 40 catches for 525 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015. In 2016, he was even better. He caught 46 passes for a Clemson single season record 763 yards and seven touchdowns.
This year, the tight ends were led by Galloway’s 27 receptions for 369 yards and two scores. Galloway made big plays, but he would seem to disappear at times and there were a few games where he was seldom targeted, such as at Georgia Tech and at Notre Dame.
Allen showed flashes of big-play potential. But like Galloway, he also seemed to disappear. Some of it was due to the fact defenses were loading up to stop running back Travis Etienne so they had to stay in and block.
Allen did catch four touchdowns, but he had just 16 catches overall for 247 yards. They were decent numbers, but not numbers that are going to scare or concern a defense.
Chalk, primarily a blocking tight end, caught six balls for 43 yards and a touchdown, while Lay caught one pass for five yards.