#1 Clemson Football 2020 Preview

Clemson Tigers
Overall Rank: #1
#1 ACC
 Clemson Logo
Clemson will be looking to atone for a 42-25 loss to LSU in the CFP National Championship game that cost the Tigers a shot at a second straight national title. Clemson is 29-1 over the last two seasons and has themselves in commanding position for a third straight trip to the national championship this season. Head Coach Dabo Swinney along with a strong, deep and talented staff have turned the Tigers program into a recruiting machine that will not be slowing down anytime soon.
2019 Record: 14-1, 8-0
2019 Bowl: College Football Playoff Semifinal PlayStation Fiesta Bowl vs. Ohio State (29-23 W) College Football Playoff National Championship vs. LSU (25-42 L)
Coach: Dabo Swinney (103-31 at Clemson, 103-31 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tony Elliott
Defensive Coordinator: Brent Venables
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Travis Etienne, RB, 1,678 yards
Passing:  Trevor Lawrence, QB, 3,665 yards
Receiving: Travis Etienne, RB, 432 yards
Tackles: James Skalski, LB, 105
Sacks:  Tyler Davis, DL, 5.5
Interceptions: Two players with 2 each
Other Key Returnees: OL Jackson Carman, TE J.C. Chalk, WR Amari Rodgers, DL Justin Foster, DL Nyles Pinckney, DB Derion Kendrick, S Nolan Turner, RB Lyn J-Dixon, PK B.T. Potter, WR Joseph Ngata, P Will Spiers
Key Losses: OL Sean Pollard, OL John Simpson, OL Gage Cervenka, WR Tee Higgins,
DL Logan Rudolph, S Tanner Muse, LB Isaiah Simmons, LB Chad Smith, DB AJ Terrell, S K’Von Wallace, WR Justyn Ross (will miss 2020 season due to injury), OL Tremayne Anchrum
Scoring points won’t be a problem for Clemson as they averaged 43.9 points per game last season, which ranked fourth overall in the nation and propelled Jeff Scott into the head coaching job at South Florida. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne are a lethal 1-2 punch at quarterback and running back, respectively. Lawrence threw for 3,665 yards, 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2019. It is going to be very important to keep Lawrence healthy all year long as backup quarterback Chase Brice transferred to Duke.in the offseason. Travis Etienne’s return was a huge bonus for this offense as Etienne should be a Heisman Trophy contender after he rushed for 1,678 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. Amari Rodgers and Joseph Ngata will need to lead a wide receiver room that will need to replace the lost production of Tee Higgins, who went off to the NFL and Justyn Ross, who will miss the 2020 season with a spinal injury. The offensive line will be led by Jackson Carman and a group of rising young players that should continue the tradition of high quality play up front for Clemson.
Opposing offenses will have to earn everything as always against the Tigers defense. They limited teams to just 13.5 points and 288.3 yards per game last season. James Skalski is the leading returning tackler with 105 as he will have the task of helping lead a young but talented defense. Tyler Davis collected 5.5 sacks last season along with nine tackles for loss. Justin Foster will provide additional pressure off the edge as he collected 4.5 sacks in 2019. There will be some reloading in the secondary as A.J. Terrell, Tanner Muse, and K’Von Wallace have moved on to the NFL. Derion Kendrick and Nolan Turner are back in 2020 and those guys combined for four interceptions and an excellent 16 pass breakups. Recruiting on this side of the ball has been outstanding in recent years so look for this defense to end up around the top ten overall in total defense in 2020.
The Bottom Line:
Clemson will hit the ground running this season with three conference games in the first four weeks of the season. A trip to Georgia Tech will get things started on a Thursday night in Atlanta on September 3. Louisville and Virginia will make trips to Death Valley in weeks two and four. The first two weeks in October will send the Tigers to Boston College and Florida State. Traveling to Notre Dame on November 7 is arguably the biggest landmine on the Clemson schedule. The combination of the weather, playing at night and the mystique of Notre Dame Stadium will be very interesting to see how the Tigers respond in that environment. South Carolina will visit on November 28 for the annual rivalry game that will wrap up the home schedule for Clemson. This is a very manageable schedule that should allow the Tigers to win the ACC again and return for a sixth straight appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Projected Bowl: Sugar Bowl
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 240.4 (13th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 288.3 (23, 1)
Total Offense: 528.7 (5, 1)
Scoring Offense: 43.9 (4, 1)
Rushing Defense: 116.1 (19, 3)
Pass Defense: 172.3 (4, 1)
Total Defense: 288.3 (6, 1)
Scoring Defense: 13.5 (3, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.00 (8, 1)
Sacks: 3.07 (13, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.20 (11, 2)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#1 Trevor Lawerence
#16 Justyn Ross
#34 Xavier Thomas
#60 Travis Etienne
#62 Jackson Carman