Why the Clemson Tigers could be College Football Playoff Champions
A week and some change into June, this piece might be just a hair early (especially if a hair figuratively were to mean three months). There is no way of knowing for sure who college football's studs and duds will be yet, which is what makes this time of the year so special for the fans of college football. "Next year" has slowly shifted to "this year," and last season is just far enough away for everyone to begin asking themselves: why not my team?
If you happened to be one of the Clemson Tiger fans asking yourself that question, then this is for you. Clemson is coming off of a solid year led by the rising star DeShaun Watson and the most dominant defense in the country. The team returns 8 offensive and 4 defensive starters. However, the current number 1’s on the depth chart on the defensive side have all seen plenty of on-field action (middle linebacker Ben Boulware seemed more productive than first round Stephone Anthony at times during the year, especially against Oklahoma). Though Clemson’s defense might not be number one in the nation this year, defensive coordinator Brent Venables is commanding a group that has seen plenty of action and the fall-off from last year will be minimal. Offensively, Clemson’s biggest concerns might not even be the players themselves. DeShaun Watson has proven himself to be the real deal, earning the same QBR last season as one Heisman winner Marcus Mariotta, and doing so as a true freshman. Fellow freshmen Wayne Gallman and Artavis Scott also exploded onto the scene and give Watson great weapons to work with. These three rising sophomores, along with the more veteran players in Mike Williams, Germone Hopper, and the returning Zac Brooks give the Tigers legitimate playmaking potential anywhere on the field. The least proven part of the offense is their coaching, with co-offensive coordinators Tony Elliot and Jeff Scott beginning their first full seasons in that role. Dabo Swinney has sworn by these men, and he has had a great (if not phenomenal) track record when it comes to hiring coordinators (Brent Venables and Chad Morris were great hires, and Kevin Steele is as well-respected a name in college football as any.) If these two are as good as Swinney claims they are, then Clemson South Carolina could very well be home to the most high-octane offense in America. Combining that offense with a hungry new defense coached by Venables and a favorable ACC and non-conference schedule could mean a second national championship for the Tigers.
A week and change into June, the stars seem to be aligning for a special year in Tiger Town. Clemson fans can’t be blind to the obvious reasons to be excited in front of them, and are forced to start asking the question:
Why not the Clemson Tigers?