Can Deshaun and Dabo lead the Tigers to ACC Glory?
Perhaps no freshman QB in the ACC or the Country (including Miami's Brad Kaaya) was more impressive than Clemson's Deshaun Watson in 2014. Watson missed significant time due to injury, but still put up incredible numbers, including 14TDs, just 2 INTs, 1,466 yards, and a staggering 67.9% Completion Percentage.
Here's a better look at just how good he was:
But the big question in Death Valley is, can he stay healthy?
Watson had ACL surgery in December, and should be ready by the start of the season.
That's good news for Dabo Swinney's team.
Because while they have racked up 4 consecutive double digit win seasons, and produced recent stars like Sammy Watkins and CJ Spiller, they haven't had a signal caller quite this explosive during that span (no disrespect to the very formidable Tahj Boyd intended).
There's plenty of other talent on the roster, but also huge holes to fill on defense.
For Swinney and Co. an explosive and healthy Watson could be the difference between another very good season, or a great one.
UM leads the all time series, 6-3.
The last time these two times battled, the 'Canes got one of the more impressive road wins of the Shannon Era, taking down Clemson 30-21 behind the three headed running back attack of Damien Berry, Mike James, and Lamar Miller.
Winning in Death Valley is never easy.
Good thing for the 2015 'Canes, this contest in at Sun Life (Saturday 10/24 TBD).
Players to Watch:
Al-Quadin Muhammad, Chad Thomas, Tyriq McCord, and Jermaine Grace will need to get some pressure on the star sophomore, because if not he can kill you with his accuracy.
The Tigers running game could be by committee, but watch out for former 4 star prospect Adam Choice.
At WR CU has no shortage of options to toss to, including proven stars Mike Williams and Artavis Scott.
Corn Elder, Artie Burns, and Tracy Howard will have their work cut out for them against that group.
Defensively, few teams in the country will have more to replace than Swinney and Tigers' Defensive Coordinator Brant Venables.
Gone are superstars Vic Beasley, Stephone Anthony, and Grady Jarrett.
But they do have budding prospects like DEs Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd. Not to mention Mackensie Alexander and one time UM recruit Jayron Hearse in a talented secondary.
Protecting Brad Kaaya will be at premium for Miami.
Clemson's D may not be quite as formidable as it was in 2014, but it will still be pretty good.
Of all the teams on Miami's schedule, Clemson could have the most potential.
Swinney has recruited very well, and the result is a what could be conceivably the best roster in the conference.
Their offensive line, overall running game, any injury to Watson, and the likely drop off of the D due to overturn, could all be stumbling blocks.
But there is also a reason they have won at least 10 games every season since 2010..... talent!
UM will need to be at its' very best to hang with the Tigers.
In the end, the team that protects it's star sophomore QB better, will probably win this one.
Miami's pass rush and their ability to keep Kaaya's jersey clean will decide whether or not they come up with the signature win at home.