CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Cade Klubnik and the Clemson offense will have to reset the expectations this season.
Cade Klubnik and the Clemson offense will have to reset the expectations this season.

ESPN's spring overreactions on Clemson, Georgia, ACC


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Spring football is, in some ways, the height of "talking season," an all-practice and no true game period that brings mostly optimistic observations.

ESPN went through the biggest overreactions for its early Top 25, and the piece took on one of the more negative takes on the Clemson side.

"The offense is a disaster," ESPN's David Hale said was the overreaction. "You can forgive Clemson fans for a bit of offensive pessimism after three straight years of frustrating performances. The days of Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence feel like a bygone era, and the dismal performance from the spring game tells us little about how the Tigers might rebound in 2024.

"The units were split, so Cade Klubnik wasn't playing with his full arsenal of first-team impact players Jake Briningstool and Tyler Brown. And the game plan, as Klubnik noted, was little more than a Day 1 installation. If anything, the emergence of freshman Bryant Wesco is cause for optimism for a receiving corps that should be much improved."

The overreacting thought on Clemson's opener opponent Georgia isn't exactly positive either.

"Georgia's offense won't be nearly as good without star tight end Brock Bowers and receiver Ladd McConkey," ESPN's Mark Schlabach wrote was the overreaction. "There's no question the Bulldogs are going to miss the two aforementioned pass-catchers, who were selected with the 13th and 34th pick in last month's NFL draft, respectively. Both players were explosive after the catch and served as safety valves for quarterback Carson Beck, who was confident they'd be open when they were on the field. But Georgia still has plenty of firepower returning and more talent coming this summer.

"Beck should be even better in his second full season as a starter -- he's trending as the potential No. 1 pick in the 2025 draft. Dominic Lovett and Rara Thomas should emerge as go-to receivers after transferring to Georgia before the 2023 season, and Dillon Bell is a versatile playmaker as well. Miami transfer Colbie Young looked like a red-zone threat in the spring. Junior tight end Oscar Delp is another future NFL draft pick, and Stanford transfer Benjamin Yurosek will give Beck another proven target."

ESPN's piece touched on 2024 opponents Florida State, NC State and Louisville as well.

On FSU's overreaction: "The offense will take a step back.

"This is a natural assumption after Florida State lost Jordan Travis, Trey Benson, Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson to the NFL draft. Florida State addressed this in the transfer portal, signing quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, receivers Malik Benson and Jalen Brown, and running backs Roydell Williams and Jaylin Lucas. While the running game looks like it has potential to be a force, the offense left unanswered questions following the Spring Showcase.

"No official stats were kept, but Uiagalelei was inconsistent, and beyond Benson, the receiver group didn't step up the way it needed to. Coach Mike Norvell referenced missed opportunities and dropped balls in his news conference afterward."

On NC State's overreaction: "The offense is going to be electric.

"When the Wolfpack's first-team offense put up 51 points in the spring game -- highlighted by explosive performances from transfer QB Grayson McCall, transfer receiver Noah Rogers and transfer tight end Justin Joly -- NC State fans had every right to be overjoyed.

"It's hard to recall the last time the Pack had so many playmakers at skill positions. Enter: KC Concepcion, Jordan Waters and Hollywood Smothers. But let's tap the brakes just a bit. Offensive coordinator Robert Anae should have plenty of on-field talent this season, but NC State hasn't had an 1,000-yard receiver or rusher since 2018. The spring offered reason for optimism, but we want to see it against real competition before we're sold."

On Louisville's overreaction: "Tyler Shough will be a star.

"A seventh-year senior, Shough has had a hard time staying healthy throughout his career. But in the spring game, he showed exactly why Jeff Brohm went after him in the transfer portal. Shough played nearly flawless, going 8-of-12 for 177 yards and two touchdowns, that included one on the first play from scrimmage -- a beautiful 80-yard pass to Chris Bell -- that immediately showed his arm strength. His predecessor, Jack Plummer, had experience in running the Brohm offense, but if there was one thing the Cards did not do -- it was stretch the field consistently enough.

"Shough has the arm talent to do that, and Bell looks poised to be WR1. Louisville wanted to add more receivers through the portal, but even without that, Shough has made major strides over a short period of time in getting acclimated to a new offense and making plays happen."

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