August 29, 2016

Bold Predictions for Clemson in 2016

Chris Cox (CC), Matt Wilczewski (MW) and Marty Coleman (MC) offer up bold predictions for the 2016 Tigers


CC:  Tre Lamar takes over as the starter at MIKE linebacker before seasons end.

There have been no indications that Kendall Joseph’s job is in jeopardy, but there’s just something special about this Lamar kid. He’s the kind of athlete in the middle that Brent Venables can build around and he’s going to be tough to keep off the field after he gets some game experience.

MC: Deshaun Watson throws single digit interceptions.

Many fail to remember that Mr. Watson played in 15 games last season and threw 491 passes, instead focusing on the raw number of interceptions. Watson could certainly clean up some throws, but some interceptions were his receiver’s fault and a couple were bad luck. Watson cleans up what he can and ends up with 9 or less INTs, no matter how many games he plays.

Clemson wide receiver Deon Cain (8) makes the catch and breaks free from Boston College defensive back Kamrin Moore (5) and the Eagles defense. The Clemson Tigers played host to the Boston College Eagles at Memorial Stadium in Clemson Saturday, October 17, 2015. GWINN DAVIS / FOR POST AND COURIER

MW: Deon Cain leads Clemson in receiving yards.

Following his off season in the doghouse, Cain appears to be prepped and ready to take the next step on the field. Yes, Mike Williams is back, but he’s likely to receive special treatment on the field from a team’s best cornerback as well as a safety shaded in his direction. Thus, things open up for Cain to take advantage, as he puts together a monster sophomore season for the Tigers.

MW: Greg Huegel increases his touchback percentage to 40%.

It’s no secret that the 2015 Clemson team struggled in the kick coverage game, a significant portion of that due to the kicker’s inability to put the ball into the endzone and force touchbacks. Last year, Huegel had 37 kickoffs and just 10 touchbacks, amounting to a 27.03% touchback rate. This offseason, he’s taken advice from former Tiger PK, Chandler Catanzaro on how to increase his kickoff distance, including yoga to enhance flexibility. I’m not quite ready to say Huegel jumps into the top tier of touchback percentage kickers, but I do believe he’ll increase his percentage a significant amount.

CC: Clemson takes at least two kickoffs back for touchdowns.

”Special” attention has been applied to special teams this offseason for obvious reasons. There seems to be a fierce competition for the KO return role and it appears the staff has several able bodies in place to make the Tigers a threat in the return game.

MC: Adam Choice rushes for 500+ yards

Might sound crazy when you have a 1,500+ yard back, a 1,000 yard quarterback and a freshman phenom in the backfield for a a guy coming off knee surgery to gain 500+ yards, but Choice lightens the load on Gallman and Watson and shows a he’s a feature back in his own right.

MC: Special Teams gives up 0 return touchdowns  

They may not be “special” and this wouldn’t be a big deal for most teams, but considering Clemson was one of two teams (of 127) to give up 3 kickoff returns for touchdowns in 2015 this would be a major improvement.  I’m expecting major improvement.

MW: Clelin Ferrell records double-digit sacks.

The reviews on Ferrell this off season have been absolutely glowing for a kid that has yet to take a snap in a Clemson uniform. It’ll be a nearly impossible task for him and his counterpart to make-Mike Williams, Walker Smithup the 25 sacks recorded by the Lawson/Dodd combination in 2015, but he’ll be depended upon as THE pass rush specialist of the defense. I’ll buy into the Clelin hype and say he more than adequately fills Dodd’s spot.

CC: The Tigers finish with two +1,000 yard rushers and two +1,000 yard receivers.

Mike Williams and Wayne Gallman are almost locks to knock out 2 of the 4 if they stay healthy. After finishing his first two seasons with over +900 yards, Artavis Scott will finally get over the hump. Perhaps the biggest question here is whether or not Watson can eclipse the 4-digit mark again. If the Tigers play 15 games I think he does.

Photos courtesy gwinndavisphotos.com

Metrics for Returning Clemson Receivers

Metrics for returning receivers.
2016 Returning Receivers

Vegas Confidential: Does half a point make a difference?

When last we checked Clemson was a 7 1/2 point favorite against Auburn to open the 2016 season and we advised caution.  Well, perhaps it was Austin Bryant’s injury or something else, but Clemson is now a 7 point favorite.  What’s that half point mean for guys that like to bet on games? More than you would think. That half point difference, assuming it stays there, is enough reason to consider taking Clemson – with one caveat:

Complete SUR Clemson and College Football Preview

Earlier this week the SUR Crew of Matt Wilczewski, Chris Cox and Marty Coleman posted a complete preview for both Clemson and College football.

On Monday, we looked at the potential redshirts for Clemson and while we agreed on most, there were some interesting divergences: Redshirt Report.

Tuesday we selected the players we expect to have special seasons for the Tigers in 2016: Clemson Superlatives.

Wednesday brought our season predictions for the Tigers: Clemson Season Predictions.

Thursday we gave our thoughts on which teams will win each conference, who makes playoff and picked a Heisman winner: Conference Champs, Playoffs and Heisman.

Throwback Thursday: C.J. Spiller leaves Georgia Tech grasping at air

We were fortunate to witness C.J. Spiller at Clemson.

SUR Picks: Conference Champs, CFB Playoffs, & Heisman

 

In the fourth installment of our week long SUR season preview we take a crack at how we think the ACC shakes out, name the Power-5 conference champs, make our CFB Playoff picks, and list our Heisman finalists.

ACC Atlantic Standings
Marty Coleman: #1 Clemson #2 FSU #3 Louisville #4 Syracuse #5 Boston College #6 NC State #7 Wake Forest
Matt Wilczewski: #1 Clemson #2 FSU #3 Louisville #4 Syracuse #5 NC State #6 Boston College #7 Wake Forest
Chris Cox: #1 Clemson #2 FSU #3 Louisville #4 Boston College #5 Syracuse #6 NC State #7 Wake Forest

ACC Coastal Standings
Marty Coleman: #1 UNC #2 Miami #3 Pitt #4 Virginia Tech #5 Georgia Tech #6 Duke #7 Virginia
Matt Wilczewski: #1 UNC #2 Virginia Tech #3 Miami #4 Pitt #5 Georgia Tech #6 Duke #7 Virginia
Chris Cox: #1 UNC #2 Miami #3 Pitt #4 Duke #5 Virginia Tech #6 Georgia Tech #7 Virginia

ACC Champion 
MC: Clemson +11 over UNC
MW: Clemson +5 over UNC
CC: Clemson by +10 over UNC

Big 10 Champion
MC: Ohio State
MW: Ohio State
CC: Ohio State

Big 12 Champion
MC: TCU
MW: TCU
CC: Oklahoma

Pac 12 Champion
MC: Washington
MW: UCLA
CC: UCLA

SEC Champion
MC: Alabama
MW: Alabama
CC: LSU

Playoff Picks
MC: #1 Clemson, #2 Alabama, #3 Ohio State, #4 Notre Dame
MW: #1 Ohio State, #2 Clemson, #3 Notre Dame , #4 Alabama
CC: #1 Clemson, #2 LSU, #3 Oklahoma, #4 Ohio State

Heisman Picks 
MC: #1 Deshaun Watson, #2 Christian McCaffrey, #3 Dalvin Cook
MW: #1 Deshaun Watson, #2 Dalvin Cook, #3 JT Barrett
CC: #1 Deshaun Watson, #2 JT Barrett, #3 Leonard Fournette

**Stay tuned to Seldom Used Reserve throughout next week as we’ll begin to roll out content for Clemson’s season opener at Auburn.  And as always you can head over to the free SUR message boards to discuss this and much more with one of the tightest online Tiger communities on the web.**

Tuesday: Clemson Superlatives
Wednesday: Clemson Season Predictions

A Closer Look at Huegel’s Kickoffs

It should be noted that Greg Huegel was the primary kickoff man in only 5 Clemson games last season – the first 3 and the last 2.  The 7 games in between saw Huegel kick off only 3 times – twice against Georgia Tech and once against Boston College.

In retrospect, perhaps we should have been concerned as early as game 2 against Appalachian State as the Mountaineers reeled off returns of 37, 36, 31 and 28 yards and the following Thursday Louisville returned one 100 yards.

Two teams in the nation (of 127) gave up 3 kickoff return touchdowns in 2015.  Clemson was one of them.

As the numbers below show, Huegel had a slightly better distance on his second kickoff of the game than he did the first.  The “kicker”, of course, is that the return defense got worse with each subsequent kickoff.  The touchdown return against Louisville came on Huegel’s 5th kickoff of the game and the touchdown in the National Championship game came on kickoff number 6.

Huegel KOs 2015

Huegel’s distance decreased by a small amount as the game went on, but the average return increased at a higher rate and while Huegel’s touchback % halved after the first kickoff of the game, it actually increased from the second to subsequent kickoffs.

Featured image courtesy gwinndavisphotos.com

SUR Picks: 2016 Clemson Season Prediction

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In the third installment of our week long SUR season preview we take a crack at how we think Clemson’s 2016 regular season plays out with game-by-game predictions. Heck, we even include a predicted point spread for you guys.

@Auburn (9/3)
Marty Coleman- Clemson by +7
History suggests a Clemson win and Auburn cover. My head says different, but I’m siding with history.
Matt Wilczewski- Clemson by +7
First game, hostile road environment, jitters for the new starters. Auburn has a load of talent and I anticipate Malzahn will throw the kitchen sink Clemson’s way. I’m seeing a win, but it may be more stressful than most of the Clemson faithful expects.
Chris Cox- Clemson by +10
I have a hard time seeing an Auburn offense that returns virtually no notable skill position players keeping up with the Clemson offense on the scoreboard. Jordan-Hare will be electric and Auburn’s defense should keep the game respectable until late.

Troy (9/10)
MC- Clemson by +40
Not the same Troy as 2011 and certainly not the same Clemson.
MW- Clemson by +37
Experience, experience, experience. Get the young guys in for snaps to see what they can do.
CC-Clemson by +35
The Tigers could likely win this one by 70, but this is going to be a chance for the staff to get valuable snaps for an inexperienced second unit on both sides of the ball.

SC State (9/17)
MC- Clemson by +50
Stay healthy my friends.
MW- Clemson by +40
Same as previously. Get the backups and young guys snaps, as well as keep everyone healthy. This week is more about Georgia Tech than SC State.
CC- Clemson by +49
Singing the same tune as above, but State won’t even be able to keep up with Clemson’s 2nd and 3rd units. Keeping everyone fresh is key here with a short week to get ready for the Yellow Jackets.

@Georgia Tech (9/22)
MC- Clemson by +14
The Yellow Jackets will be improved, but it won’t be enough. Thursday night in Atlanta is enough to keep it respectable, but let’s face it – If Deshaun is upright Clemson wins comfortably.
MW- Clemson by +13
I expect Paul Johnson and his Yellow Jackets to be improved and upset ready on a Thursday night, but GT’s offense doesn’t perform well without success running up the middle. Watkins, Wilkins, Pagano, Lawrence, Huggins. The Tigers finally get one in Atlanta.
CC-Clemson by +14
With Justin Thomas back for his 20th year of eligibility you have to figure he knows this offense like the back of his hand and will challenge Clemson’s inexperienced defense. The Tigers also haven’t one in Bobby Dodd since ‘03, but Watson will be ready to put on a show in his home state after going down with an injury two years ago.

Louisville (10/1)
MC- Clemson by +9
Two games, two very close wins. Louisville is a formidable foe and a good team. One of those close wins was with Cole Stoudt at the helm for the most of the game, the other on a Thursday in Papa John’s Stadium. Neither of those happen this year.
MW- Clemson by +4
Very happy that Clemson gets this one in Death Valley. The Cardinals return an impressive offense behind Lamar Jackson who I expect to have a breakout season. The hope is that the DE’s have experience and success under their belt by this time, prepared for the stresses of a running QB.
CC-Clemson by +6
Lamar Jackson is an absolute problem. The Cardinals also return nearly every key contributor from last year’s offense that went on a tear at the end of the last season. It’s a good thing Clemson gets to play this one inside friendly confines.

@Boston College (10/7)
MC- Clemson by +17
Always a slugfest and in the past Clemson had the speed and Boston College the brawn. Clemson has speed and brawn and Boston College has regressed.
MW- Clemson by +13
Not an overly ideal spot for Clemson, going into a road night game in Boston following Louisville. If the previous week against the Cards takes a toll on the Tigers, getting up for this Friday night game with one-day less of prep could be a bit tough. Anticipating what I would consider a “frustrating” 13 point win in Chestnut Hill. Tigers play below their potential and BC hangs around, but eventually the talent pulls away.
CC- Clemson by +14
A lackluster Friday night game on the road in front of 20,000 fans just screams trouble to me. The Tigers haven’t won by more than two touchdowns in Chestnut Hill since BC joined the ACC and they will actually present with an offense that actually has a pulse this year.

NC State (10/15)
MC- Clemson by +21
I’m sure State will have a respectable record at this point, but they’re not a team that is going to compete with the Tigers.
MW- Clemson by +17
State simply isn’t a great team and heads into this season after losing their QB, Jacoby Brissett. Does Clemson look ahead to the bye-week and FSU a bit? Most likely. But the Tigers shouldn’t have any significant issues handling this ‘Pack team in Death Valley.
CC-Clemson by +28
I don’t think people realize just how bad of a job Dave Doeren has done at NC State. The blinders will come off this season. Clemson has averaged 46 points during their 4-game win streak versus State, and you can expect that trend to continue for at least another year.

@FSU (10/29)
MC- Clemson by +3
The best team usually wins, but in one this close the home field could make a difference. Really a toss up, I’m giving it to the Tigers because Deshaun is wearing orange.
MW- Clemson +1
+1 here is purely on DW4 at QB. If FSU’s quarterback situation ends up positive and Francois is performing admirably up to this game, then I’d likely switch sides here. The ‘Noles are loaded on both sides of the ball and Tallahassee is an incredibly difficult place to play. I would be surprised if Clemson goes into this matchup as the favorite.
CC-Clemson by +1
FSU is good. Like really good. And if they find a legit answer at quarterback then my prediction here likely goes the other way, but as of today they’re going with a guy who is built on nothing but hype. This matchup is setting up to be the most hyped game of the 2016 college football season.

Syracuse (11/5)
MC- Clemson by +24
New coach, similar result. Dino Babers may turn the Orange around, but it won’t be in 2016.
MW- Clemson +17
This is another situational spot where Clemson likely plays below their potential as they come off the FSU game. Frustrations here and there from the home side before pulling away for good in the second half. Talent gap too large for a Syracuse team to come into Death Valley and pull the upset.
CC-Clemson by +21
Coming off a big game you never know how a team will respond, no matter the result. We also don’t know what to expect out of Dino Baber’s first Syracuse team. We do know there’s a huge talent gap and Clemson is playing at home.

Pittsburgh (11/12)
MC- Clemson by +17
This team almost beat an undefeated Iowa team in 2015. It’s questionable how good Iowa really was, but I think this team hangs around for a half or so.
MW- Clemson by +13
The Panthers have talent on both sides of the ball, led by a top-notch rushing attack, and will likely be the third most difficult conference matchup for the Tigers. If this were in Pittsburgh it would be a bit more intriguing, but the Panthers don’t have quite enough big play ability to keep up in Death Valley.
CC-Clemson by +17
Pitt returns senior QB Nate Peterman along with two sensational RBs in James Conner and Qadree Ollison. If second year coach Pat Narduzzi can work some defensive magic then the Panthers could contend for the ACC Coastal crown. Still too much fire power on Clemson’s side for the Panthers to keep up.

@Wake Forest (11/19)
MC- Clemson by +28
The days of worrying about road trips to Groves Stadium are in the rear view mirror for Clemson. Tigers blow Deacs out late.
MW-Clemson by +24
The Demon Deacons are arguably the worst in the ACC coming into this season, and even on the road this should be no contest. This likely becomes a prep week for Clemson as they prepare to face their rivals in Death Valley to finish out the regular seaosn.
CC-Clemson by +35
Clemson is Goliath. Wake Forest is David. This story does not end up like the last.

South Carolina (11/26)
MC- Clemson by +17
A dearth of playmakers make it impossible for the Gamecocks to keep up with the Tigers and oh yeah, it’s Deshaun’s last game in Death Valley.
MW- Clemson by +17
The Gamecocks will improve from their 3-9 season in 2015, but not enough to compete in Death Valley in what will likely be DW4’s last home game. Expect the kitchen sink from Muschamp as he attempts to keep the Palmetto Bowl close in his first time on the sidelines for South Carolina. Statement game for several Clemson players who will be playing their final home game.
CC-Clemson by +21
A year ago we thought the Gamecocks were primed for picking when Clemson rolled into Williams-Brice. The scrappy bunch from Columbia didn’t cooperate. Fortune is not likely to be on their side for the second straight year as a handful of talented Tigers (*cough Deshaun Watson cough*) will want to close out their Death Valley careers’ with a bang.

 

So there you have it. A perfect 36-0 predicted between the three Seldom Used Reserve folks. Stay tuned tomorrow to see how the staff thinks the CFB postseason shapes up with conference picks, playoff picks, and Heisman predictions.

**Stay tuned to Seldom Used Reserve throughout the week as we’ll continue to roll out content that focuses on our predictions for what could be a historic season in Clemson.  And as always you can head over to the free SUR message boards to discuss this and much more with one of the tightest online Tiger communities on the web.**

Tuesday: Clemson Superlatives

Ben Boulware: 4 plays in 59 seconds

Typically, this is the space where we do the “5 in 59” segment.  However, Ben Boulware’s exploits sometimes require replay just to see all the twists, turns, flips and chest thumping, so I couldn’t actually fit 5 in 59.  I did provide a solo of one that was left on the cutting room floor on Sunday.

Featured image courtesy gwinndavisphotos.com

SUR Picks: 2016 Clemson Superlatives

In the second installment of our week long SUR season preview we take a crack at which Clemson players, and even coaches, will make the biggest impact on the 2016 season.  With the Tigers returning an explosive offense and breaking in an inexperienced defense, we’ll tell you who each units MVPs will be as well as which newcomers are set to make a splash.

Offensive MVP 
MC- Deshaun Watson
The easy, but correct choice. A lot of players can go down and Clemson will be OK. Watson is not one of them.
MW- Deshaun Watson
Only choice here. Watson puts up one of the greatest QB seasons in college football history and becomes a Clemson legend. Savor every moment of 2016 and DW4.
CC- Deshaun Watson
Obviously this is the only pick that would be reasonable to have in this place. Watson is the potentially the greatest to ever wear a Clemson uniform and this team will go as he does.

Defensive MVP 
MC- Ben Boulware
The emotional and vocal leader of the defense, Boulware makes mistakes, but also makes huge plays and punishes opponents. Ask Baker Mayfield.
MW- Cordrea Tankersley
With DB depth thin, Tankersley must take the reigns of “shutdown corner” from Mackensie Alexander. His ability to take away a team’s best receiving option will be absolutely critical throughout the season. I think he’s ready to take that role.
CC-Christian Wilkins
The sophomore defensive tackle is going to be relied on early on to help out at defensive end, and I think his production from both spots is what will start to cement his Clemson legacy. The entire nation will know this name come season’s end.

Most Valuable Newcomer Offense 
MC- Adam Choice
Maybe this is bending the intent of the rules, but I expect Choice to be a reliable number 2 to Wayne Gallman this season after missing all of last season with a knee. Here’s some evidence.
MW- Taylor Hearn
Replacing Eric Mac Lain is no easy task, but Hearn is a nasty lineman ready to shove defenders into the dirt. The returns from camp have been very positive and I expect his mean streak to be vital in the run game.
CC-Jake Fruhmorgen
Clemson already has one All-American at left tackle in Mitch Hyatt, and here’s to thinking that there’s potential for them to have two now that Fruhmorgen is in the lineup. He’s added weight to get up to 300lbs for his sophomore season and the returns from camp have been through the roof.

Most Valuable Newcomer Defense 
MC- Dexter Lawrence
Until the Austin Bryant injury I was favoring a linebacker in this spot. However, Bryant’s injury means Christian Wilkins will spend more time outside and put more focus on Lawrence inside.
MW- Clelin Ferrell
The hype train has been rolling since the spring and now, especially with Austin Bryant’s injury, it’s time for Ferrell to step up. Lawson and Dodd were significant losses in the pass rush and Ferrell will be leaned upon to become THE pass rush threat. Here’s to believing he shows out in his RS freshman year and negates what could’ve been a major drop-off at the position.
CC-Van Smith
With plenty of candidates to choose from on the defensive side of the ball I settled with one of Clemson’s two new starters at safety. Smith isn’t going to blow you away from a physical standpoint like Kearse and Green did, but he’s added much needed bulk to his frame. Where I believe Smith will stand out is his understanding of coverage schemes, and as a result I think there are far less big plays.

Assistant Coach of the Year
MC- Danny Pearman
Perhaps it’s blind faith, but I expect the special teams to be much improved this season and hey, there’s nowhere to go but up.
MW- Marion Hobby
It’s incredibly difficult to “reload” following the losses of Lawson and Dodd. Hobby has his work cut out for him this season with little experience at the ends between Bryant, Ferrell, Yeargin, Robinson, Register, and maybe even Wilkins. If Clemson fans aren’t noticing a significant drop-off at the position, then Hobby did his job. He’s proven himself before, but this year could be his best work to date.
CC-Mike Reed
Reed certainly has his work cut out for him in replacing 3 starters from his secondary. Couple that with a couple injuries during the offseason and it’s safe to say the bar is set pretty low. With that said I anticipate the 4th year assistant’s group of no names to exceed those expectations.

**Stay tuned to Seldom Used Reserve throughout the week as we’ll continue to roll out content that focuses on our predictions for what could be a historic season in Clemson.  And as always you can head over to the free SUR message boards to discuss this and much more with one of the tightest online Tiger communities on the web.**