Five reasons to be optimistic


by - Senior Writer -
    |
A healthy Andre Ellington will be a big boost to the Clemson offense.

The 2011 football season sits just over the horizon, and message boards, internet sites, office water coolers and talk radio all are beginning to bristle with talk of expectations for the coming year.

The Clemson Tigers and head coach Dabo Swinney are coming off of a 6-7 campaign and a loss to South Florida in the bowl game, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic as 2011 approaches and TigerNet takes a look at five of those reasons.

1. Chad Morris and a revamped offense – The offense moved the ball just fine between the 20-yard lines a year ago, but red zone scoring was a problem as turnovers, breakdowns and special teams gaffes all contributed to a lackluster year. Exit former offensive coordinator Billy Napier [who is now at Alabama as offensive intern], and enter new coordinator Chad Morris, who went from successful high school coach to the University of Tulsa to Clemson in just two seasons. Morris’ “Smashmouth spread” promises to be physical, yet exciting. He says he wants to take two or three shots downfield in every quarter, and has also said he runs a very simple offense that will be easy for some of the younger players to pick up. He wants the players reacting naturally instead of thinking too much on the field, like they did a year ago when they were still processing the play terminology while lining up. With that in mind, he has also taken the line calls away from the line itself because he wants them to get lined up and ready to snap the ball with somewhere between 19 and 21 seconds on the play clock. With the talent on hand and the young talent coming in, this offense should definitely be an improvement on 2010. Especially because...


2. The offensive line is experienced – The cornerstone of any good offense is a bunch of big uglies up front, and Clemson has that in right tackle Landon WalkerLandon Walker
Offensive Line
#72 6-6, 310
North Wilkesboro, NC

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, right guard Antoine McClainAntoine McClain
Offensive Line
#74 6-5, 330
Anniston, AL

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, center Dalton Freeeman, left guard David SmithDavid Smith
Offensive Line
#73 6-5, 315
Greenville, SC

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and left tackle Philip Price. All but Price are returning starters, and Price [a converted tight end] turned heads in the spring with how quickly – and well – he has picked up his position. This unit was among the nation’s best in sacks allowed a season ago, and with Morris promising more quick passes instead of longer-developing patterns, that trend shouldn’t change dramatically. The biggest question about this unit is the depth – no real backup emerged during spring practice behind Walker for example. If new line coach Robbie Caldwell can get this unit run-blocking effectively, and a few younger plays can emerge to provide depth, this could be one of the best units in the ACC because...


3. There is a lot of young talent of the offensive side of the ball. Junior running back Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
Running Back
#23 5-10, 190
Moncks Corner, SC

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returns from his toe injury, and he is backed up by sophomore Roderick McDowellRoderick McDowell
Running Back
#25 5-9, 185
Sumter, SC

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[who saw some action last season], redshirt freshman D.J. HowardD.J. Howard
Running Back
#22 5-11, 190
Lincoln, AL

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and Demont BuiceDemont Buice
Running Back
#24 6-0, 220
Gadsden, AL

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[who each showed flashes during the spring] and incoming freshman Mike BellamyMike Bellamy
Running Back
# 5-10, 187
Punta Gorda, FL

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, who set career records in the state of Florida during his high school career and has drawn comparisons to former Tiger C.J. SpillerC.J. Spiller
Running Back
#28 5-11, 195
Lake Butler, FL

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. The wide receivers have Jaron BrownJaron Brown
Wide Receiver
#18 6-2, 200
Cheraw, SC

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, Bryce McNealBryce McNeal
Wide Receiver
#7 6-1, 180
Minneapolis, MN

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, Marquan JonesMarquan Jones
Wide Receiver
#26 6-0, 195
Columbia, SC

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and Nuk Hopkins all back, and add talented youngsters like Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Wide Receiver
# 6-2, 200
Fort Myers, FL

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, Charone PeakeCharone Peake
Wide Receiver
# 6-4, 210
Roebuck, SC

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, Martavis BryantMartavis Bryant
Wide Receiver
# 6-4, 195
Anderson, SC

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and possession guy Adam HumphriesAdam Humphries
Wide Receiver
# 5-11, 175
Roebuck, SC

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. A nightmare scenario for any defensive coordinator would have Watkins coming out of the slot, Hopkins on the outside and Bryant, Peake or Brown taking a route downfield. Add in the possibility of having to cover tight end Dwayne AllenDwayne Allen
Tight End
#83 6-3, 245
Fayetteville, NC

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or one of the backs out of the backfield, and defenses may run out of quality personnel to cover everybody. Allen could be headed for a monster season, and he has another quality freshman behind him in Eric MacLainEric MacLain
Tight End
# 6-5, 261
Fayetteville, NC

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. MacLain has soft hands, a nasty demeanor and the size to be dominant. Of course, the offense may not have to score 40 points a game, because...

4. This defense has the chance to be really good. Yes, the defense lost Jarvis JenkinsJarvis Jenkins
Defensive Tackle
#99 6-4, 315
Clemson, SC

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, Da’Quan Bowers, Marcus GilchristMarcus Gilchrist
Defensive Back
#12 5-11, 190
High Point, NC

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and DeAndre McDanielDeAndre McDaniel
Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 180
Tallahassee, FL

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. Those are four quality players to lose, and most national pundits point to the fact that this defense returns just five starters from a year ago. However, a deeper look shows that a new starter at defensive tackle, Rennie MooreRennie Moore
Defensive Tackle
#94 6-4, 270
Saint Marys, GA

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, played a ton of snaps last season and is almost a de-facto returning starter. Defensive end Malliciah GoodmanMalliciah Goodman
Defensive End
#97 6-4, 265
Florence, SC

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also logged snaps during pressure situations, and former starting linebacker Brandon MayeBrandon Maye
Linebacker
#20 6-2, 235
Mobile, AL

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was off the field a good bit due to injury, so the linebacking corps returns starters Quandon ChristianQuandon Christian
Linebacker
#34 6-3, 215
Lake View, SC

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and Corico HawkinsCorico Hawkins
Linebacker
#42 5-11, 230
Milledgeville, GA

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and another guy that saw extensive action in Tig Willard. If this group can hold the fort while the young linebackers gain experience, then watch out. In the secondary, the only returning starter is safety Rashard HallRashard Hall
Safety
#31 6-2, 200
St. Augustine, FL

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. However, that is based on a standard 4-3 defense, and Clemson typically hasn’t started in that base defense very much the past two seasons because of the rise of the spread offense. As a result, the Tigers often play a lot of nickel coverage, and corner Xavier BrewerXavier Brewer
Defensive Back
#29 5-11, 190
Jacksonville, FL

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started double digit games a year ago. Safety Jonathan MeeksJonathan Meeks
Safety
#5 6-1, 205
Rock Hill, SC

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also started a few games, and corner Coty SensabaughCoty Sensabaugh
Defensive Back
#15 6-0, 180
Kingsport, TN

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also saw extensive action. The problem lies in the fact that once you get past the starters, the reserves are manned by younger players, but there are future stars in safety Bashaud BreelandBashaud Breeland
Safety
#17 6-0, 190
Allendale, SC

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, tackle Tavaris BarnesTavaris Barnes
Defensive End
#6 6-3, 265
Jacksonville, FL

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, end Corey CrawfordCorey Crawford
Defensive Line
#93 6-5, 275
Chatham, VA

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, and linebackers like Tony StewardTony Steward
Linebacker
# 6-2, 225
St. Augustine, FL

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, Stephone AnthonyStephone Anthony
Linebacker
# 6-2, 220
Wadesboro, NC

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, Lateek TownsendLateek Townsend
Linebacker
# 6-2, 197
Bennettsville, SC

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and B.J. GoodsonB.J. Goodson
Linebacker
# 6-1, 215
Lamar, SC

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. And don’t think for a minute that Kevin Steele has forgotten how to coach in the off-season, even though the rest of the country obviously has, because we see...




5. Nobody expects this team to do anything this season. Yes, the national media has low expectations for this season in Tigertown. The Sporting News says 6-6 is a successful campaign, and other sites have the Tigers anywhere from second to fourth in the Atlantic Division. This team can go out and play with reckless abandon, because the only expectations they have to live up to are their own, the ones of the coaching staff and the 80,000 fans who will pack Death Valley on autumn Saturdays.

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Subject (Replies: 45) Author
Five reasons to be optimistic
B-Meist®
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
SpillerROH28
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
tigerforlife28
No way:
CU''90
That field goal would have been good from Gainsville. We
Spud
Re: No way:
allorangeallthetime52®
Re: No way:
tigerforlife28
Re: No way:
tigerforlife28
Wishful thinking
clempsun
Re: Wishful thinking
tigerforlife28
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
leftie
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
armsb
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
Dugatiger®
When you look back to every loss and see
clover65®
Re: When you look back to every loss and see
Dugatiger®
Re: When you look back to every loss and see
icebucket
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
Tigerrag78
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
tigerforlife28
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
1965tiger®
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
CUalum79ALLn65®
We will beat Auburn. The problem is will we lose
tigerdrummer®
Re: We will beat Auburn. The problem is will we lose
Tigerrag78
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
Streaking Tiger
and if it doesn't work, we're going to have a very tired D.***
CUFOR98®
Re: and if it doesn't work, we're going to have a very tired D.***
tigerforlife28
This got me pumped!
WillardTFrog®
Re: This got me pumped!
2tigerboyz
Mox, is that you?***
elcid1985®
Nope, just good ol' Will***
WillardTFrog®
Started to sound very Varsity Blues'ish***
elcid1985®
I'll admit...
WillardTFrog®
You're welcome.***
elcid1985®
Re: This got me pumped!
Dugatiger®
Re: This got me pumped!
CUalum79ALLn65®
this looks a lot more like West's last year to me
quozzel
Wow man cheer up. Things are looking up.***
elcid1985®
Re: this looks a lot more like West's last year to me
tonybenson62003
Jesus could be our head coach,and some of you would
tigerjebus
You forgot to add Justin Parker and Brandon Ford***
Bryanttiger®
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
icebucket
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
CUalum79ALLn65®
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
icebucket
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
Imbleedinorange
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
BloodRunningOrange
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
rovers
Re: Five reasons to be optimistic
Louis_Cypher

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