Clemson football’s future is in pretty good hands. The future of this program will be played on the arm of DeShaun Watson. While Cole Stoudt is the starter for now, Chad Kelly and incoming freshman Deshaun Watson won’t give away the job without a fight. Kelly ranked as the No. 7 quarterback by Athlon Sports in the 2012 signing class and threw for 58 yards on 10 completions last season. Watson is the name generating the most buzz in spring workouts, as he enrolled early to compete with Kelly and Stoudt.
That has to put a smile on the face of head coach Dabo Swinney. Now all Swinney and his coaching staff has to do is find offensive weapons to replace the ones he lost in 2014. If he can do that and the defense continues to play tough, Clemson can win another 10 games. It will be a little tougher this time around without Tajh Boyd or Sammy Watkins.
Still, Clemson will be in the thick of the ACC race.
Here are 10 things you should know about Clemson Football for 2014-15.
It’s not the easiest job replacing a legend, but that is exactly what Cole Stoudt is being asked to do in South Carolina. The junior from Dublin, Ohio is supposed to come in and take over for Tajh Boyd. The good news is Stoudt has been proficient in his appearances with the team.
THE DEFENSE RESTS
While Stoudt gets his feet wet and the Tigers learn to play with the big boys in the first few weeks of the season, facing Georgia and FSU early on, the Clemson defense will be holding it together for the program. Led by All-American Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett and Stephone Anthony, Stoudt has time to learn.
It has been 33 years since Clemson won a national title. Clemson finished their undefeated 1981 season with a 22-15 victory over the #4 Nebraska Cornhuskers in the 1982 Orange Bowl, and were voted #1 in the Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI) polls.
WHAT’S IN A DABO?
Just so you know, “Dabo” is not the real first name of head coach Swinney. William Christopher "Dabo" Swinney was raised in Alabama, and then walked on as a receiver at Alabama. He earned a scholarship and lettered on three teams (1990–1992), including the Crimson Tide's 1992 National Championship team. During his time as an undergraduate at Alabama, Swinney was twice named an Academic All-SEC and SEC Scholar Athlete Honor Roll member.
REMEMBERING THE FRIDGE
Speaking of Clemson’s national title, William “The Refrigerator” Perry played at Clemson from 1981-84 and was a freshman on that title team. Perry, known for his wide body and enormous girth, was an All-American in 1983, was drafted in 1985 by the Bears and was a member of the Super Bowl winning team.
Clemson keeps winning and winning. For only the second time in school history, Clemson is coming off its third consecutive season of at least 10 victories. The Tigers have won 32 games over the last three years, claimed an Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State and defeated LSU in the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl.
REMEMBER THIS NAME
Swinney scored a huge offseason victory when offensive coordinator Chad Morris didn’t leave Death Valley for a head coaching gig. Morris is a hot name that will get plenty of attention in 2015, possibly if a job opens up in Miami or at Florida or Georgia Tech.
The Tigers lost both Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant to the NFL Draft. Morris will have to find replacements on offense. Running back is also a concern. The cupboard is far from bare. Zac Brooks rushed for 246 yards and caught six passes last season and enters spring practice with a slight edge on D.J. Howard for the starting running back job.
LOSING THE BATTLE
But maintaining the war. The end of the season rivalry with South Carolina is proving to be a runaway for the Gamecocks. The SEC school has won the past five seasons. Swinney must improve on that. Clemson has an overall edge in the matchup, 65-42-4.
BECOMING DEATH VALLEY
The Stadium was dubbed this affectionate title by the late Lonnie McMillian, a former coach at Presbyterian. He used to take his teams to play at Clemson, and they rarely scored, never mind gained a victory. Once he told the writers he was going to play Clemson up at Death Valley because his teams always got killed. It stuck somewhat, but when Frank Howard start calling it that in the fifties, the term really caught on. It is now in its 54th year.