Final Thoughts: It's game day, and Clemson needs to feed that man

by - Senior Writer -
Etienne is chasing numbers that put him among the all-time greats. (Photo per Clemson athletics)
Etienne is chasing numbers that put him among the all-time greats. (Photo per Clemson athletics)

It’s game day, and it feels so good to type that.

After months of arguing and uncertainty, Clemson will take the field later today at Wake Forest to kick off the 2020 season, a season that will go down in the history books as perhaps the most unusual in college football history.

However, it’s still college football and it’s the start of the Tigers making another (hopeful) run to the College Football Playoff.

A few final thoughts before the Deacons host the Tigers:

*For those wondering about an injury/COVID report and who is out for today’s game, head coach Dabo Swinney told us last week that they will lump it all in together and rather than release an injury report on Thursday, they will release one on game day. The school is scheduled to send us the “not available” list prior to leaving the team hotel.

Because rumors are so easy to spread on social media these days, expect Fridays and Saturdays full of them. Believe almost none of them. I also expect Clemson to be just fine in that regard Saturday night.

*Following the Clemson game at North Carolina last season, I wrote an article about how the middle of the field disappeared for the Tiger offense at the start of last season. Not having a tight end who was a huge receiving threat was part of the problem and having two tall wide receivers in Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins who were great the 50-50 balls was also part of the game plan.

I have heard that the middle of the field has been utilized a little more in scrimmages this season. If that’s the case, we could see Lawrence running something like a Tom Brady-style of offense, hitting all of those fast guys in stride all over the field. That and the running game with Travis Etienne could be fun to watch.

*I am super stoked about seeing the defense that Brent Venables trots out.

The new-look secondary features those hard-hitting but inexperienced safeties, and we get to see who runs out there first at the corner spot opposite Derion Kendrick. An early guess is that it will be Andrew Booth, who has been impressive over the last five weeks.

There are so many young but talented players in that secondary – Malcolm Greene to RJ Mickens to Ray Thornton to Lannden Zanders to Jaylyn Phillips to Fred Davis to Tyler Venables – and it will be interesting to see the early rotations in games.

That also goes for the defensive line – who starts at the defensive end spots today? How long before Myles Murphy takes the field? Tyler Davis and Nyles Pinckney/or Jordan Williams will probably start at defensive tackle, but it won’t be long before we see Bryan Bresee.

So many new faces to keep track of. New, but talented.

*There are questions marks on the offense, including the offensive line and wide receivers. Two of the three starters at wideout don’t have a ton of production on their resumes (Cornell Powell and Joseph Ngata), but now is their time to shine.

I asked Swinney about the positions groups earlier this week and which one he had the most questions about and almost expected him to say wide receiver, but he said the offensive line with its four new starters and inexperienced backups.

At running back, I am thrilled we all get a chance to see Travis Etienne in a Clemson uniform. He will go down as one of the all-time greats and each carry is worth savoring. Who totes the rock behind him? Once again, there is a ton of talent out there, and we get to see it tonight. If I had an open line to Tony Elliott before the start of the game, I would tell him one thing – feed Etienne. Feed that man.

Spot the ball. Then feed that man.

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