May 19, 2019

2015 Season Outlook Games 1-4

Editor’s Note: Nic Mills is a junior PRTM major, student assistant with Clemson Athletic Communication (formerly known as the Clemson Sports Information Department) and has a long family history of Clemson grads. Nic will be contributing content on football, basketball and baseball for SUR. You can follow Nic on Twitter @mrnicmills.  This is the first in a 3 part series on the 2015 season.

Clemson’s season will come down to two things – Deshaun Watson’s health and the ability of  Brent Venables’ defense to hold opponents to 21 or fewer points per game.

There’s not a team on this years schedule that will hold Clemson to under 21 points if Watson is healthy.  The defense loses six of the top ten tacklers from the 2014 campaign but Venables has plenty of returning talent in the likes of Mackenzie Alexander (21 tackles, 2 TFL and 6 PBU), Jayron Kearse (60 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 sacks and 7 passes defended) in the secondary.

Ben Boulware will be the ring leader in the linebacking corp returning (40 tackles,  5TFL and 1 sack) and local product Shaq Lawson will be looked upon to lead the defensive line (34 tackles, 11 TFL and 3.5 sacks).

On offense Watson will have all of his top skill players returning, however a number of the offensive line recruits in the 2015 class will have a chance at immediate playing time.

The season is a long ways away, but if the games were starting up right this weekend, here is what I see happening.

Wofford- September 5th

This will be a win for the Tigers and to be honest with you I hope that Watson does not start this game, he is not needed to win this one and with his injury plagued past there is no point in taking any chance of reaggrivating an ACL. Whoever wins the back-up job out of spring practice or whenever it is decided should start this one. The defense will struggle slightly against the triple option early on and it being a little uncomfortable at halftime but by the end of the game the Tigers will just be too strong for the FCS Terriers. Clemson wins 48-17.

Appalachian State- September 12

I believe Watson should start this game to get a little warm up before traveling to Louisville on Thursday night, however he shouldn’t play past the first half and if the Tigers have a comfortable lead before then he should come out earlier. App State finished this past season on a roll winning their last six games to finish the season a decent 7-5 for the first year FBS team. Clemson however will be to deep and to talented for them to compete more than a half at the most. The defense continues to gel and the offense will roll with Watson in for at least part of the game. Clemson wins 45-14.

@ Louisville- September 17

Clemson’s first test of the season, a road contest on a Thursday night at Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals have won some big games on Thursday nights in this place over the years and gave Florida State a run for their money last season. They lose their top defensive player in DE Lorenzo Mauldin and their top WR DeVante Parker, but home field advantage at night could possibly make up for those losses.  I expect a close game but in the end the Watson led offense will prevail. Expect a bit higher scoring game this season compared to last seasons 23-17 Tiger win. Clemson wins 31-23.

Notre Dame- October 3

The big question in regards to Notre Dame in the spring is who will be their starting QB? Will it be South Carolina native Everett Golson who through the first six games last season looked like a Heisman winner or will it be the younger Malik Zaire who played outstanding football in the Notre Dame win over LSU? At the end of the day I don’t really think it will matter who plays QB for the Fighting Irish, Clemson will be coming off a bye week, the offense will be humming along nicely and the defense will be gelled. Clemson wins a close one, 34-27.

The Tigers will be 4-0 when Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech roll into Death Valley the second week of October.  What happens in games 5-8? Be sure to check back on Wednesday for part 2 in this series.



  1. […] You can read part 1 – Games 1-4 here […]

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