Roderick McDowell

CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 16 Clemson

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2013 record: 11-2 overall, 7-1 in ACC (2nd in Atlantic division)
2013 postseason: Orange Bowl vs. Ohio State (40-35 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 8/No. 7
Head coach: Dabo Swinney (51-23 overall; 51-23 in 6 years at Clemson)
Offensive coordinator: Chad Morris (4th season at Clemson)
2013 offensive rankings: 56th rushing offense (175.62 ypg); 9th passing offense (332.9 ypg); 9th total offense (508.5 ypg); 8th scoring offense (40.2 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: 4
Defensive coordinator: Brent Venables (3rd season at Clemson)
2013 defensive rankings: 53rd rushing defense (155.69 ypg); 16th passing defense (200.6 ypg); 24th total defense (356.3 ypg); 24th scoring defense (22.2 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: 7
Location: Clemson, South Carolina
Stadium: Memorial Stadium (81,473; Grass)
Last conference title: 2011

THE GOOD
At first glance it may look as though Clemson is likely to be in a bit of rebuilding mode after losing some talented players (including Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Roderick McDowell) but the Tigers return more seniors in 2014 than any previous season in the Dabo Swinney era. This year’s senior class needs eight wins to set a new school record for wins by a recruiting class, and that certainly looks attainable this season. Cole Stoudt is ready to take over the responsibility as starting quarterback after playing the role of Boyd’s understudy each of the past three seasons. The strength of Clemson could actually come on the defensive side of the football, with a deep defensive line led by defensive end Vic Beasley, who had 13 sacks last season. This Clemson team may not be as good as they have been in recent seasons, but Swinney’s recruiting in recent years have assured Clemson of a very good team once it gets going.

THE BAD
Clemson plays in the same division as Florida State. With as far as Clemson has come in recent seasons, the bar has been set to a height that may not be able to be cleared by Clemson this season, in part because they happen to play in the same division as the best team in the country (and defending national champions, and Clemson has to play on the road in Tallahassee). It could be a rough start for this Clemson team with road games at Georgia and Florida State in September, so it may be unfair to truly judge Clemson until later in the season. Clemson should be one of the best teams in the ACC by the end of the season, but they will likely be playing from behind Florida State the entire way.

THE UNKNOWN
How much will Clemson have in the tank at the start of the season. As just referenced above, the Tigers are going to be thrown right into the fire in September with rod games at Georgia, a team some expect to compete for the SEC East and perhaps even the SEC championship this fall, and later at Florida State, defending ACC and national champions and looking prime for a repeat bid out of the gate. Clemson could very well lose those two games, but will they be able to at least make them look respectable? No coach or player will take much solace in a lose, but proving worthy of going toe-to-toe with Georgia ad Florida State regardless of the outcome could go a long way in setting the tone for the remainder of the season. Clemson beat Georgia last year in a wild game at home, but failed to show up for the home game against the Seminoles. Revenge is one thing, but respect is an entirely different aspect.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. South Carolina
Regardless of what happens against Georgia or Florida State in September, the time has come for Clemson to prove it can compete with and beat South Carolina. Even Clemson’s best teams the past few years have been crippled by their in-state rivals from the SEC. Clemson has lost this game five straight years, and those games have not been all that close either. Each game has been decided by a minimum of 10 points, giving Steve Spurrier and his program some in-state bragging rights. Clemson gets this year’s meeting at home, and it would be a great way for the Tigers to put a bow on what could turn out to be a double-digit win season.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: Defensive end Vic Beasley
We know that defensive players are probably never going to win the Heisman Trophy, but it should not go without mention just how good Vic Beasley is for the Tigers. He could have joined Boyd and Watkins in the NFL Draft this past spring but he opted to return for one more year at Clemson, and that is fantastic news for the Tigers. If he gets off to a fast tart in high-profile games at Georgia and Florida State, and helps Clemson’s defense lead the way to victories in each, then the campaign will quickly emerge as the latest defensive hopeful to snag the Heisman.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

 

Torn Achilles latest injury setback for Clemson RB Tyshon Dye

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A back injury and subsequent surgery cost four-star 2013 recruit Tyshon Dye his true freshman season.  Another injury a few feet further south, unfortunately, has given the Clemson running back yet another medical obstacle with which to deal.

Dye suffered what was described as a torn Achilles tendon Friday, the school announced.  The injury occurred during a winter workout earlier in the day.

While the injury will keep Dye off the field for spring practice, head coach Dabo Swinney is hopeful the player will be “back in time for the fall season.”  Whether that means Dye will be healthy enough to participate in summer camp a few months down the road is unclear.

Dye was a four-star member of the Tigers’ 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 16 running back in the country.  Coming off a redshirt for his true freshman season, Dye was expected to be a part of a stable of backs looking to replace the production lost by the departure of leading rusher Roderick McDowell.

Report: Former Alabama RB Kamara visited Clemson

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Clemson is hosting former Alabama running back Alvin Kamara according to multiple reports Saturday, first reported by 247 Sports.

Kamara was granted a release from his scholarship in mid-January after previously being suspended from Alabama’s Sugar Bowl appearance. Kamara also sat out an earlier game against LSU due to a violation of team rules, although he never played a down for the Crimson Tide in the 2013 season anyway. The former four-star recruit is not allowed to transfer to any other SEC program, which helped make Clemson one of the favorites form the start for his transfer options.

Clemson is losing their top two rushers from the 2013 season with Roderick McDowell and quarterback Tajh Boyd graduating. As it stands at the moment, Clemson’s leading rusher returning in 2014 is sophomore Zac Brooks, who all be a junior in 2014. Brooks rushed for 246 yards and two touchdowns in 2013. D.J. Howard rushed for 213 yards and two touchdowns as a junior in 2013 as well.

Although Kamara did not play for Alabama in 2013, NCAA transfer rules would keep him out of action in 2014 if he transfers to another FBS program. He may play right away in 2014 if he ends up at an FCS or lower level program. Florida State, Oklahoma State and UCLA were previously reported to be options for Kamara.

Report: Former Alabama RB Alvin Kamara considering transfer to Clemson

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Former Alabama running back Alvin Kamara might be considering a transfer to Clemson, according to a report on Monday from 247Sports.com.

Apparently, Kamara will be meeting with Tigers running backs coach Tony Elliot on Monday night. If the signs are correct, Clemson could be the team to beat for his services over Florida State and Oklahoma State.

The Tigers certainly need a back with Kamara’s talent after losing 1,000-yard rusher Roderick McDowell has graduated.

Kamara was released from his scholarship at Alabama a few days ago, the result of just too many elite running backs on the Crimson Tide depth chart. Kamara, a four-star recruit from Norcross, Ga., was lost in the shuffle and forced to redshirt while fellow freshmen Derrick Henry and Altee Tenpenny found their way on the field. That’s certainly no knock on Kamara’s ability, as last year’s Alabama running back class was one of the greatest recruiting hauls of all time.

The freshman has four years of eligibility remaining, but will have to sit out next season due to transfer rules, unless he winds up at a non-FBS school or gets an NCAA waiver allowing him to play immediately.

Clemson taking it to Virginia at the half

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Tajh Boyd threw two touchdown passes and ran for one more as Clemson jumped on Virginia, 35-7, after one half of play in Charlottesville.

The Tigers looked very much like the team that was ranked No. 3 in the polls just a couple weeks ago, outgaining the Cavaliers 325 yards to 131. Boyd was 22 of 27 for 278 yards while running back Roderick McDowell ran for 57 yards and a score on 11 carries. Receiver Sammy Watkins also got off to a good start, catching six passes for 70 yards and a TD.

Virginia quarterback David Watford struggled, completing just eight of 19 passes for 69 yards. He was also intercepted once. He did rush for a six-yard touchdown to tie the score at 7 early in the first quarter, but that was the lone bright spot of the day so far for the Cavs.

With the 7-1 Tigers sitting at No. 8 in the BCS rankings, there is still an outside chance they could get to a big time bowl. They’ll need some style points to push their way back up the polls and today’s developing blowout against UVA should fit that bill nicely.