There is a lot of uncertainty heading into Clemson’s next college football season. A dominant force in the College Football Playoff era, the Tigers fell from their throne among the greats last season, missing the playoff for just the second time since the playoff was created back in 2014.
The Tigers will look to step back into the top stage of college football next season, and they should have a good opportunity to do so.
In USA Today’s Erick Smith’s post-spring Top 25 rankings, the Tigers sit comfortably at No.5.
5. Clemson (4)
The focus will again be on the offense as D.J. Uiagalelei enters his second year as the starting quarterback. Uiagalelei was expected to seamlessly grab the baton from Trevor Lawrence, but he struggled last season and didn’t look great in the team’s spring game. Cade Klubnik enrolled early and could push for playing time if those struggles continue. On the plus side, the defense should be salty with lineman Myles Murphy and K.J. Henry among the standouts in the unit. The early schedule is much easier this season without an opener against Georgia. That could help ease some of the struggles before the start of the significant ACC games come.
Like everyone else analyzing the Tigers’ chances next season, the first thing he mentions is quarterback play. The worry at QB is understandable; there’s no telling whether DJ Uiagalelei will actually take the next step as a QB, and Klubnik looked somewhat raw in Clemson’s Orange and White spring game.
One of the two of these guys will need to show up in a big way for the Tigers to have a shot.
The team may go as far as the defense, and in particular, the defensive line can take them. Murphy and Henry will anchor the edges with Bryan Breese and Tyler Davis clogging up the run game, wreaking havoc on the inside.
People always love to talk about Clemson’s schedule, though the ACC is quietly looking very strong heading into next season.
Clemson could go either way next season, but they are an elite right now.