2012 Clemson Tigers Football Preview
2011 Record: 10-4 (6-2 ACC)
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney, fourth full season (29-19 all at Clemson)
Projected Returning Starters: 14
Spring Game: April 14th
Notes: Expectations have been high in Clemson for awhile now. Prior to the 2008 season, Clemson was picked to win the Atlantic Division, but ended up starting the season 3-3, 1-2 in ACC play. Coach Tommy Bowden, who seemingly was always under pressure resigned, giving way to then offensive coordinator Dabo Swinney. Swinney has led the Tigers since that time, leading them to a bowl game each season. While 2010 was a disappointment, at 6-7, the Tigers rebounded last season to make a BCS bowl game, following defeat of Virginia Tech twice. Clemson fans still have a sour taste though, following a 70-33 drubbing at the hands of West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Expect Death Valley to have high expectations in 2012, especially with Brent Venables taking over the defense.
BVTSB Take: After a highlight reel season in 2011, Tajh Boyd returns under center for Clemson. Boyd threw for over 3800 yards and had 33 touchdown passes. He averaged an interception per game, so if he can cut down on the turnovers, the offense should be even more efficient. Note that in a four game stretch from October 29th through November 26th, Boyd threw seven picks – Clemson was 1-3 during that time. He also threw two picks in the Orange Bowl loss. Running back Andre Ellington led the rushing game, combining 11 rushing touchdowns with over 1100 yards on the ground – he’s back in 2012. Possibly the most importance piece to the Clemson offense is Sammy Watkins. He and Boyd combined for a number of touchdowns, but Watkins was also electric on kick returns. Watkins had over 1200 yards receiving and 12 touchdown catches in his freshman season. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and tight end Dwayne Allen also return, with over 1500 yards receiving and 13 touchdown grabs between them. The important thing will be keeping Watkins healthy and active. In games where he had less than 100 yards receiving, Clemson was 5-3, compared with 5-1 otherwise. Clemson faced a soft non-conference schedule to open the season in 2011 – Troy, Wofford, and a decimated Auburn team. They also faced South Carolina to wrap up the year, getting a beatdown at the hands of the Gamecocks. Clemson hasn’t beaten their instate rival since 2008, and Tiger fans will start grumbling if that trend continues. Clemson’s non-conference schedule is Auburn, Ball State, Furman, and South Carolina to conclude the year. The Tigers could very well be 3-0 heading into Doak Campbell. The Tigers have a lot of winnable road games. They play the Seminoles, Yellow Jackets, and Hokies within a one month period, the later two being at home.
2012 Early Projection: 8-4
To see the 2012 ACC composite schedule, click here.
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