Most people are counting Clemson out with the “down” season the media claims Clemson had last season and the departure of both Coordinators Tony Elliot (Virginia) and Brent Venables (Oklahoma).
In 2022 the Tigers brought in the 14th ranked recruiting class (24/7 Sports) headlined by 5-stars QB Cade Klubnik out of Westlake HS and CB Jeadyn Lukus from nearby Mauldin HS. Klubnik is coming in with a lot of hype after being the #1 QB in the 2022 class and has put some necessary pressure on current starting QB DJ Uiagalelei.
Another sleeper worth mentioning is QB Hunter Johnson who began his career at Clemson but transferred to Northwestern and has transferred back to Clemson.
2021 Showed Some Promise
In 2021 the Tigers went 10-3 and 6-2 in the ACC. The season was full of ups and downs on offense while the defense played great and did their best to keep the tigers in games. They lost to the eventual national champion Georgia Bulldogs 10-3 in Charlotte a game the tigers could have won. They would then go on to lose to NC State in overtime on the road and Pitt on the road.
It was a tough season most would say but another 10 win season, a shutout against the rival Gamecocks, followed by a bowl win against Iowa State made everything less painful.
Statistically Clemson had one of the worst passing offenses in recent memory being ranked #103 in the country while just ranked #58 in rushing. DJ had a TD-Int ratio of 9-10 and just couldn’t seem to take care of the ball. RB Will Shipley was one of the bright spots on the offense rushing for over 750 yards and 11tds. Look for him to have a breakout 2022 season with a year under his belt.
In 2022 we look to see huge improvements from the Quarterback position after we were able to see the potential in DJ back in 2020 when he stepped in for #1 Overall Pick Trevor Lawrence. DJ will look to TE Davis Allen, and WRs Beaux Collins and Joseph Ngata who played in just 9 games and was the second leading receiver with 438 yards. Collins played very well as a freshman and showed many flashes of what he can be. He finished 2021 with just over 400 yards and 3 touchdowns.
However, the tigers do lose two solid receivers in Frank Ladson and Ajou Ajou who both didn’t play much due to injury. Ladson transferred back home to Miami and Ajou went to Coach Scott and USF.
The OL and Running Back group all return and should be even better this season regardless of who is under center. It will start here with the Pass Protection and Run Game if Clemson wants to make another run at a national championship. They can’t have anywhere near the type of pass game they had in 2021.
The defense on the other hand didn’t skip a beat after being the #2 scoring defense in the country. Venables left the Tigers defense in good hands with Wes Goodwin being named DC by Dabo and coached the bowl game where Clemson won 20-13. Goodwin has been apart of the program for the past 11 years.
The success of this defense begins up front with the defensive line which has been the staple of Clemson’s defense over the past decade. This season is led by Xavier Thomas, Bryan Bresee, KJ Henry, Myles Murphy, and Tyler Davis.
Some will say this is the best front Clemson has ever had. You can make that argument but of course this group has to go show it on the field. They were the 7th best run defense in the country last year and contributed to the 34th best Pass defense.
The secondary of the tigers has some new faces but also has some NFL talent on its roster. They are looking to make a name for themselves after they lost Mario Goodrich, Andrew Booth, and Nolan Turner to the NFL.
Watch for CB Sheridan Jones and Safety’s Andrew Mukuba and Lannden Zanders. Zanders is coming off a season ending shoulder injury but saw a good amount of playing time as a freshman and sophmore. If healthy I can see him coming in and making an impact.
Yes, Clemson will return back to dominance. This season is the perfect season to do it with the schedule they have. Their only tough matchup should be Notre Dame but we all know what happens when Clemson faces NC State and Syracuse but both of these games are at home. This could be the season we see Clemson back in the National Championship picture and in the playoffs. They have a championship defense and the offense has the potential to go back to being great they just have to go out there and do it.
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