Clemson Tigers Football 2013
The 2012 season saw the Tigers making some serious moves to get back into the national spotlight. They won 11 games for the first time since the 1981 National championship season and beat perennial National Championship contender LSU in the Chick-fil-A bowl to end the season with some momentum heading into the recruiting season. Gone are offensive stars Andre Ellington and DeAndre Hopkins who have moved on to the NFL. They will be missed on the field in 2013 but don't feel sorry for Dabo Swinnie and Chad Morris they have plenty of talent left in the cupboard. many experts are predicting the tigers to be in the national championship hunt in December and are the favorites to win their second ACC Championship in 3 years. Let's take a look at this year's squad.
Tajh Boyd is coming off of a record breaking season in 2012. This past season was his 2nd under offensive mastermind Chad Morris and he flourished. Boyd completed 67.2% of his passes for 3896 yards with 36 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. These numbers may have been even more impressive had Swinnie not pulled him at halftime 4 times when the Tigers had a big lead. Before the season offensive coordinator Chad Morris challenged Boyd to use his feet more and trust his legs. Boyd responded with career highs in rushing yards with 512 and scored 10 TDs on the ground. He has great work ethic and is coming into his 3rd season in the same offense. Look for Boyd to shock and amaze once again and barring an injury he will be in New York for the Heisman presentation.
The son of former NFL QB Cliff Stoudt, Cole Stoudt seems to have a hold on the backup QB spot. He is the only other Tiger with game experience at the college level. Stoudt attempted 39 passes in 2012 completing 27 for a 69.2% completion rate for 212 yards with 3 TDs and 1 interception. Stoudt has shown he is capable of moving the offense in the event Boyd gets hurt. The Tigers would still be a potent offense under Stoudt but lets face it he is a backup for a reason.
Hot on Stoudt's heels is cocky redshirt freshman Chad Kelly. Kelly was a 4 star prospect out of New York as a dual threat QB. He is still raw in the passing game but possesses the talent and motivation to improve. He is the nephew of former Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly, but he may not even take a snap this season.
The Tigers have a huge whole to fill on the field and in the locker room with the departure of Andre Ellington who graduated and moved on to the NFL. Ellington rushed for 1081 yards and scored 8 TDs in 2012. The tigers still have talent in the backfield just not much experience.
Roderick McDowell has overcome a great deal in his lifetime to get to this point and he is the favorite to start at RB for the Tigers in 2013. McDowell was born with a club foot. As a child doctors said they could fix his club foot but that he would never be able to run again. His mother chose not to let them operate and now he is a RB at a major BCS college. He possesses the ability to make cuts and find the holes in the defense and the burst to get up field. He is also strong for his size and can get the tough yards when necessary.McDowell rushed for 461 yards and 5 touchdowns backing up Andre Ellington in 2012 but his 5.4 yard per carry average is the number to watch.
Even though McDowell is projected as the starter DJ Howard will get his share of carries this season and will most likely end up splitting carries with McDowell. Howard carried the ball 35 times for 142 yards and 2 TDs.
Zac Brooks showed flashes of talent last season averaging 4.6 yards per carry.
Newcomers Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman are highly touted prospects but it is almost guaranteed one of them will receive a redshirt and possibly both may sit out this season. Dye has the best shot of getting playing time this season. He is a naturally gifted athlete at the RB position with size 6' 1" 205, and speed.
With the loss of DeAndre Hopkins and Jaron Brown to the NFL the tigers have huge holes to fill in the receiving corps. Hopkins shattered school and ACC records last season with 82 catches for 1405 yards and 18 TDs. Tiger fans don't you fret we still have lots of talent at this position and it is the deepest group on the roster.
Sammy Watkins burst onto the scene in 2011. He joined Adrian Peterson and Herschel walker as the only true freshman players ever named first team All American. 2012 saw Watkins undergo a little adversity for the first time in his brief college career. He was suspended for the first 2 games of the 2012 season for an arrest for possession of marijuana, then spent most the year nursing small nagging injuries. He still managed to be a factor for the Tigers totaling 57 catches for 708 yards 3 TDs. If the 2013 spring game is any indication, Watkins will be back to form this season.
Dabo Swinnie says that Martavis Bryant possesses the most upside and potential of any WR on the roster. At 6' 4" he is also the fastest WR on the team. He has shown flashes of brilliance last year catching only 10 passes but totaling 305 yards for a whopping 30.5 yard per reception average and scored 4 TDs. I expect Bryant to burst onto the scene in 2013 and take some pressure off of Watkins.
Charone Peake is another big fast WR with great hands. He caught 25 passes for 172 yards and 2 TDs. Peake has the size and the speed to be a factor in 2013.
Adam Humphries a junior slot receiver is very fast and can consistently get open underneath. He caught 41 passes for 280 yards with 1 TD in 2012.
Germone Hopper is a talented slot receiver with big play capability as well and will spell Humphries this season in the slot.
Incoming true freshman Mike Williams is a raw but extremely talented WR that may crack the WR rotation 2013. He is 6' 5" and very fast.
This is by far the deepest most talented group on the roster and even though Hopkins and Brown will be missed the Tigers will be just fine in 2013.
Stanton Seckinger is yet another converted WR at Clemson. He is tall and fast and will create mismatches when he is on the field. Not much of a threat to block but he has good hands and will go up and fight for the ball. He holds a slight edge over true freshman Jordan Leggett for the starting nod but he need not get comfortable.
Incoming freshman Jordan Legett has impressed the coaches this spring with his all around game and will probably avoid a redshirt this season. He is long and athletic and surprisingly polished in his route running. He could slip into the starting spot with a strong fall.
Redshirt freshman Jay Jay McCullough will play sparingly he has soft hands and is a decent blocker.
The Tigers will be just fine at TE and may have found a star in the making in 6' 6" 235lb true freshman Jordan Leggett.
The Offensive Line
The tigers must replace all ACC center and 4 year starter Dalton Freeman this season. Freeman was a consistent blocker and was the glue that held this line together. There are however very talented yet inexperienced players waiting to step onto the field in his place. The tigers also return all 4 starters at the other positions along the offensive line.
Redshirt freshman Jay Guillermo and sophomore Ryan Norton will battle it out in the fall for the starting nod at center. Norton should hold onto the starting spot for now.
While there may be inexperience at the center position the other 4 spots on the Tigers line are returning veterans that gelled into a pretty good unit last season.
Jr. David Beasley (6' 4" 315lbs) and Sr. Tyler Shattley (6' 3" 295lbs) will play the guard positions. There are 2 Jr.s backing them up in Kalon Davis and Reid Webster.
Sr. Brandon Thomas (6" 3" 305lbs) and Gifford Timothy (6' 6" 310lbs) will play tackle. There are 3 sophomores backing them up in Eric Mac Clain, Joe Gore, and Isaiah Battle.
The Tigers lose Dalton Freeman but they return lots of athleticism and experience on the offensive line and this unit should be much improved in 2013.
The strength of this unit will be the Tigers defensive line.
Jr. Vic Beasley (6' 3" 225lbs) will take over for Malicah Goodman at DE. Beasley had 8 sacks last season as a part time player. He is a terrific rusher from the edge whose athleticism and speed will help him get to the QB quite a few times this season.
Jr. Corey Crawford (6' 5" 270lbs) will play the other end spot. Crawford has all the tools to become the next explosive pass rushing defensive end to come from Clemson. He is a strong gifted athlete and if he puts it all together this season the pair of Crawford and Beasley will terrorize QBs all year.
There are quite a few young and talented players waiting in the wings to get on the field at DE including 4 star prospect Fr. Shaq Lawson (6' 4" 260lbs), Jr. Tavaris Barnes (6' 4" 275lbs), So. Kevin Dodd (6' 5" 280lbs), and Fr. Marcus Aiken (6' 2" 255lbs).
The defensive line is loaded with big, strong, athletic young players.
Jr. DT Grady Jarrett (6' 1" 290lbs)was one of the Tigers most consistent inside players last season. Despite his size he plays with heart and intensity and his high motor will make him a force to be reckoned with on the defensive front. He is very strong and quick and his low center of gravity helps him against taller offensive lineman.
The other DT spot belongs to Jr. Josh Watson (6' 4" 285lbs). They are backed up at DT by talented and athletic big man So. DJ Reader (6' 3" 335lbs), So. Roderick Byars (6' 3" 275), So. Carlos Watkins (6' 3" 300lbs) and Jr. DeShawn Williams (6' 1" 285lbs).
ILB Spencer Shuey (6' 3" 230lbs) returns the Tigers leading tackler and the senior doesn't appear to be slowing down. His presence on the field greatly improved the Tigers defense last season. He is the leader of this defense and has great instincts and is a sure tackler who makes up for lack of speed and athleticism with hustle and intelligence.
Backing him up is former highly touted 5 star prospect Jr. Tony Steward (6' 1" 235lbs) and So. Kellen Jones (6' 1" 215lbs).
On the outside the Tigers boast former 5 star prospect Jr. Stephone Anthony (6' 3" 235lbs) who is a talented player that just hasn't seemed to put it all together. He was beginning to come into his own at the end of the season and hopefully with another year in Venables' system he will finally live up to his potential.
Sr. OLB Quandan Christian (6' 2" 225lbs) has been one of the most consistent players for the Tigers the last couple of years. Look for him to continue to use his high motor and instincts to make an impact on defense for the Tigers this season.
The secondary lost 3 starters last season but they do return experience and talent in 3 juniors CB Garry Peters (6' 190lbs), talented CB Bashaud Breeland (6' 190lbs), and Martin Jenkins (5' 10" 180lbs). The lone senior in this group is Darius Robinson (5' 10" 175lbs). This is a talented group that may add 5 star prospect and incoming true freshman Mackensie Alexander if he avoids a redshirt.
So. Travis Blanks (6' 1" 190lbs) is a talented safety that has great natural instincts and the Tigers are hoping he turns into a ball hawk this season. He will do a good job anchoring this secondary at the safety position in 2013.
Jr. Robert Smith (5' 11" 210lbs) will play the other safety position. Smith is a good cover safety and tackler.
Backing them up are Jr. Taylor Watson (5' 11" 205) and Fr. Jadar Johnson (6' 1" 180). Johnson has impressed coaches in the spring with his instincts and speed and he may sneak into one of the starting safety spots at some point in 2013.
This group has the potential to vault the Tigers into the National title picture in 2013.
Chandler Catanzaro was one of the most consistent kickers in college football in 2012 connecting on 18 of 19 field goal attempts.
Bradley Pinion is a rarely used weapon at punter. He has a strong leg and is accurate with his punting he should provide the Tigers with an advantage in field position in some crucial games this season. He only punted 9 times all of last season for a 39.4 yard average.
The Tigers return an experienced and extremely talented plethora of skill players on the offense and in their second season under Brent Venables the defense is poised to become a strength on this team. If this happens expect Clemson to be playing for the crystal football at the end of 2013.