There were a couple of good storylines for the Clemson offense heading into 2011, most notably the addition Chad Morris as offensive coordinator coming over from Tulsa. The Tigers’ offense had been stagnant for the past couple of years and there was pressure on head coach Dabo Swinney to get this Clemson team to the heights that it belonged at in the collegiate ranks. All the pieces were there for a successful offense; a young up-and-coming QB, a stud RB, a deep WR core and a group of impact freshman coming in. Let’s take a look at who stepped up their game, and who fell flat.
Biggest Surprise- Tajh Boyd, Sophomore Quarterback
You could also make a case for Sammy Watkins here, but Boyd was just a stud for practically the entire season. Now, like the rest of the offense, Boyd did tail off a bit towards the end of the year, but he still was good enough to lead Clemson to the ACC Title game and a BCS game all in his first year as a starter. Not to mention he had a 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio and compiled over 4,100 yards of total offense. So while Sammy Watkins may have been the biggest breakout player of the Clemson offense, his stats wouldn’t have nearly been as impressive had it not been for the development of Boyd.
Biggest Disappointment- Second Half Collapse
There really wasn’t a player that fell short of expectations coming in so let’s just put the entire offense on blast for their performance during the stretch run of the year. After blowing past people during their undefeated run, Boyd and the offense came back to life as they did not score more than 17 points in 3 of their four losses on the season. All of which came after their first loss of the year against Georgia Tech. Maybe they became complacent after securing an ACC title game birth? Nobody knows but them.
The offense loses a vital piece in junior tight end Dwayne Allen who will test his luck in the NFL. His production will be almost impossible to replace as he could end up being a very high draft pick. Andre Ellington chose not follow that same path and will return, giving the Tigers a viable starter in the backfield. Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, and Jaron Brown all return on the outside to give Boyd a plentiful amount of options to go to. A breakout player to watch for would be Brandon Ford; a converted wide receiver turned tight end who would almost assuredly step in for Dwayne Allen.