The Clemson Tigers celebrated a successful season last year, winning 11 games and were victorious in the Orange Bowl, defeating Ohio State 40-35.
Head coach Dabo Swinney has laid down a solid foundation for the program, winning 10 or more games in three straight seasons.
Although Clemson fans will be expecting similar results next season, it will be tough for the team to duplicate last season’s success. They return just eleven starters, five on offense and six on defense.
The Tigers will turn to senior quarterback Cole Stoudt to take over the void of Tajh Boyd’s absence.
Boyd was a three-year starter and re-wrote the Clemson record books. He also holds the ACC record for total touchdowns (133) and passing touchdowns (107).
Stoudt had been Boyd’s backup for the past three years and certainly knows Clemson’s playbook. In limited action the past three seasons, he has thrown for 8 touchdowns and only one interception.
At the skill positions, Clemson lost star receiver Sammy Watkins and starter Martavis Bryant. Watkins was the fourth overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft and his production will certainly be hard to replace. Running back will be another open position as well. Roderick McDowell ran for 1,025 yards last season but his services are no longer available.
The open running back position will be competitive. Most believe sophomore Zac Brooks or junior D.J. Howard will get the starting role. Both contributed last season. Brooks ran for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns while Howard ran for 213 yards and also 2 touchdowns.
Wide receiver Adam Humphries will be counted on to produce for Clemson’s offense this season. The junior caught 41 balls last season, compiling 483 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Tigers do return three starters on the offensive line, but lose two key components in second team at tackle Brandon Thomas (Second team All-ACC) and guard Tyler Shatley.
On defense, Clemson will trot out one of the best defensive lines in the conference, led by senior defensive end Vic Beasley. Beasley accumulated 13 sacks last season and is bound to have another huge season.
Retuning starter Stephone Anthony will lead the linebacking core, while the secondary has question marks. The talent is there, but the depth at cornerback is concerning.
Dabo Swinney has done a great job over the last few years on the recruiting trail, so Clemson will once again field a lot of talent. The Tigers should not have a problem scoring and another ten game season is a possibility, although unlikely. They do have a tough schedule early, facing off against Georgia in the season opener and then a road game against Florida State shortly after. Florida State is the defending national champions who Clemson lost to 51-14 last season.
Here is the 2014-2015 schedule