Game day Eve: Many Familiar Faces Return to Clemson's Offense
Clemson Head Coach and Alabama native, Dabo Swinney (Photo: FootballScoop.com)
RV’s are rolling into town, magnets and flags are proudly displayed on vehicles around Lee County, it must be game weekend on the Plains.
Auburn will welcome in the second ranked team in the nation, Clemson, to Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. If Thursday’s College Football action was any indication of what to expect on Saturday, the “underdog” will surprise everyone.
Clemson is coming off an amazing season, which saw them finish 14-1, and falling an onside kick recovery shy of a National Championship. The Head Coach is Dabo Swinney, a man from Pelham who has been Clemson’s saving grace since taking over the program midway through the 2008 season. Since the magical 2011 season, Swinney’s Tigers have won 56 games, 4 bowls, and 2 Atlantic Coast Conference championships. Swinney has produced amazing offensive talent during his time at Clemson. Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for over 11,000 yards in his career, with 107 touchdowns. Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins reeled in 27 touchdown receptions during his career. Running backs Andre Ellington, and Roderick McDowell combined to rush for over 5,000 yards and 45 touchdowns.
Looking ahead to the 2016 Clemson Tigers, a majority of their prized possessions will return from the 2015 College Football Playoff runner-ups. Clemson lost its’ two leading tacklers (BJ Goodson and TJ Green), but return Ben Boulware, whom Gus Malzahn has respect for. Boulware finished 2015 with 81 tackles, and enters this season with 145 career tackles. 145 tackles led both Goodson’s and Green’s totals. Offensively, Artavis Scott returns to the receiving corp. Scott has 14 career touchdowns at Clemson, while bringing in 1,866 career receiving yards.
The player that is not talked about as much, is running back Wayne Gallman.
Gallman finished 13th in the nation with 1,514 yards, which was better than backs such as Samaje Perine of Oklahoma, and Jalen Hurd of Tennessee. Gallman also finished with 13 rushing touchdowns.
Finally, what most have as their Heisman Trophy favorite, Deshaun Watson returns for his junior season at Clemson. Watson has been nothing short of amazing for Clemson. He began playing quarterback at Clemson during his true freshman year, splitting time with Cole Stoudt at various times during the 2014 season. Quickness and precision come to mind when you think of Deshaun Watson, but also, toughness. The first sign of toughness that Deshaun Watson showcased, was during his freshman year, when it was revealed that he had been playing with a torn ACL during the South Carolina game. A game where Clemson defeated the Gamecocks for the first time since 2008.
A look at Clemson’s depth chart, the Tigers offensive line will be young, with only one
senior starting (Jake Guillermo) at center. Three sophomores and a junior round out the o-line. Three familiar faces return to the receiving unit. Artavis Scott, Mike Williams, and Hunter Renfroe will be Clemson’s three receivers, with Jordan Leggett earning the starting tight end position. Wayne Gallman starts at running back, and Deshaun Watson is the signal caller.
Defensively, the Tigers will be a youthful bunch. Four seniors appear as starters on the depth chart (Carlos Watkins DT, Ben Boulware LB, Jadar Johnson SS, and Cordrea Tankersley CB) The defensive line will feature two sophomores and a freshman, junior Dorian O’Daniel and sophomore Kendall Joseph join Boulware at linebacker. Junior Ryan Carter, sophomores Mark Fields and Van Smith round out the defensive backfield. Ray Ray McCloud will handle punt return duties, while Artavis Scott and CJ Fuller will return kicks for Clemson.
Auburn battles Clemson tomorrow night at 8PM inside Jordan-Hare Stadium to open the 2016 season. Tune into 93.9FM in Auburn/Montgomery to hear the Auburn Sports Network’s call of the game. Coverage begins at 6PM with the Tiger Tailgate Show.
Clemson RB Wayne Gallman (9) (Photo: SportstalkSC)
Clemson QB Deshaun Watson (4) (Photo: USA Today Sports/Matthew Emmons)