Although the Clemson Tigers lost quarterback Trevor Lawrence to the NFL, don't expect the offense to miss a beat. Last season behind Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne, the Clemson offense averaged more than 500 yards per game and was third in the country in scoring at close to 44 points per game. DJ Uiagalelei takes the reins under center for Clemson. Last season, Uiagalelei passed for 429 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Notre Dame while filling in for Lawrence.
Uiagalelei will have plenty of targets to throw to including Justyn Ross who is a six-foot-four deep threat. Ross missed last season with a spinal issue, but is expected back early this season. Tight end Braden Galloway is the leading receiver returning from last season. EJ Williams, Joseph Ngata and Frank Ladson are speedy, talented wideouts that will stretch the field. Lyn-J Dixon will start at running back in place of the departed Etienne, while Kobe Pace, Phil Mafah and Will Shipley will also see action.
Clemson's defense was very strong last season and is expected to be even better in 2021. The Tigers overcame many injuries and finished first in the ACC in total defense and points allowed. Nine starters return from last season, while transfers and freshmen will step in. James Skalski will anchor the linebacker corps for the Tigers, with Trenton Simpson and Baylong Spector on each side of Skalski. Bryan Bresee is Clemson’s best defensive lineman while Tyler Davis is no slouch as the tackle is expected to play at the next level one day.
Although Clemson lost standout cornerback Derion Kendrick, the Tigers will still have one of the nation's best secondaries. The safety duo of Lannden Zanders and Nolan Turner give Clemson two big, strong tacklers and pass defenders. Cornerbacks Sheridan Jones, Mario Goodrich and Andrew Booth complete one of the nation’s best secondaries both against the rush and opposing passing games.
Free NCAAF Pick:
Clemson has lost big names on both sides of the line of scrimmage but has players who are equally talented or better to step in. After a tough opener against Georgia, Clemson will have an easy schedule especially in the weak ACC. Visits to North Carolina State and Pittsburgh will be the toughest conference matchups, but in all likelihood Clemson should go undefeated in ACC play and finish either 12-0 or 11-1, with the Georgia game being the only possible loss. Final Total Wins Prediction, over 11.5 wins.