It’s nonetheless just a little early for legit opponent scouting for us as lovers, but it surely’s no doubt by no means too early to have a look across the convention, particularly because the ACC Media Day approaches. And why no longer get started with the highest of the convention? I had the chance to speak with Ryan Kantor of Shakin the Southland, our Clemson sister website, about his outlook on his favourite workforce, what UNC lovers would possibly search for when the 2 fit up, and, in brief, what he as an intruder thinks of UNC’s sideline overhaul this yr. You’ll take a look at my solutions to his questions on UNC over at STS, or thru following this hyperlink. Another way, stay studying:
THB: Ultimate yr’s Tigers line of defense made waves after deciding en masse to stick at school and hunt a championship quite than be most probably high-value NFL Draft choices, after which made excellent on that vow ahead of making the leap to the professionals. Clemson’s clearly were given a strong of highly-ranked guys at the back of them, however what have you ever observed from the presumed beginning defensive entrance for 2019 and what do you are expecting this yr from them?
RK: Ultimate yr’s line of defense, affectionately referred to as the “Energy Rangers,” used to be actually particular. Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, and Austin Bryant all selected to dispose of the NFL draft for every other yr and joined emerging Junior DT Dexter Lawrence for yet one more go-round. Ultimate yr, Bryant in fact tore his pectoral muscle, however quite than having season-ending surgical operation, selected to play during the ache (there wasn’t a vital chance of it worsening) and assist his workforce get again to the highest. That team is irreplaceable, however we’ll clearly have to take a look at. Thankfully, there’s nice ability in a position to interchange them.
The primary identify that involves thoughts is DE Xavier Thomas. He is a smart move rusher and had the memorable sack that closed out an epic comeback win towards Syracuse. He ended up enjoying in each and every recreation and completed with 3.five sacks and 10.five TFLs final season. Along with him, emerging junior Justin Foster additionally performed in all 15 video games recording 2 sacks and six TFLs. The ones two will have to set the perimeters and can have some intensity at the back of them with KJ Henry – a five-star recruit – coming off a redshirt yr (yup, with Ferrell and Bryant returning and Thomas being so excellent, we redshirted a five-star). Justin Mascoll and Logan Rudolph around out the intensity at DE.
I’m no longer as constructive in regards to the heart of the line of defense the place we no longer handiest misplaced starters Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence, but in addition their superb backup Albert Huggins. Nyles Pickney is a emerging junior who has observed the sphere and had good fortune, however after that there are numerous unproven guys who must step up. They’re too proficient and well-coached to be dangerous, however I feel that is a space the place there will probably be a notable drop off from final season.
Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne could be the most efficient avid gamers at their respective positions within the NCAA, and I don’t suppose you guys would dispute that perception too exhausting. Assuming you don’t, who amongst them has a larger hole between themselves and #2 and why? Additionally, when you don’t suppose that’s the case, who’s, and would possibly your man catch them this season?
RK: Nationally I feel it’s difficult to mention. I’d put Justin Herbert and Tua Tagovailoa in a tier with Trevor Lawrence at QB. At operating again you’d have to position Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and arguably Georgia’s D’Andre Swift in that prime tier with Travis Etienne. I’d be faster to mention Trevor Lawrence is the most efficient QB within the country than I’d to grant that honor at RB to Etienne. Jonathan Taylor averaged 7.1 YPC throughout 307 carries along a suffering passing recreation that allow defenses center of attention on preventing him, whilst Etienne averaged 8.1 YPC throughout 204 carries, most commonly with an elite passing recreation to stay defenses truthful.
I latterly used to be on MarkRogersTV discussing this, however centered at the ACC. Throughout the convention, I ranked Trevor Lawrence #1 with UVA’s Bryce Perkins at #2 at QB and Travis Etienne #1 with BC’s AJ Dillon at #2 at RB. There, I feel the larger hole is between Trevor Lawrence and Bryce Perkins. That’s to not say I don’t suppose Perkins in excellent. Actually, the even larger hole is also between Perkins and the following best possible ACC QB (Jamie Newman? Tommy DeVito?). Nonetheless, Trevor Lawrence used to be a piece in growth for lots of the season and nonetheless completed with a 30-Four TD-INT ratio. If he choices up the place he left off towards Alabama, he’ll be the most efficient QB within the recreation.
In the meantime you could have to keep in mind AJ Dillon performed thru damage final season, so his 2018 numbers aren’t slightly reflective of his ability. Over BC’s final 7 video games in 2017, after they actually began leaning on him, he averaged 179 speeding yards and 1.7 speeding TDs in line with recreation. I don’t suppose he’ll go back to that ridiculous tempo, however he is a wonderful operating again and really with reference to Etienne’s caliber.
So we clearly find out about Lawrence, Etienne, and Justyn Ross. However who at the offensive facet, in addition to at the defensive facet except Isaiah Simmons, do you suppose goes to wreck out for the Tigers this season?
RK: It’s been bizarre, however Justyn Ross’s emergence has virtually allowed other folks to overlook about Tee Higgins. Each are true #1 WR objectives. Tee Higgins racked up 936 receiving yards and led the workforce with 12 receiving TDs. He’ll be again and will have to proceed to be some of the best WRs within the ACC.
On protection, I feel the aforementioned DE Xavier Thomas will emerge as some of the convention’s higher DEs. I additionally suppose you’ll see CB AJ Terrell, who performed reverse Trayvon Mullen, upward thrust to the instance and be a lock-down nook with Mullen off to the Oakland Raiders.
At the turn facet, what’s having a look just like the weakest place at the Clemson roster this season?
RK: I discussed DT being a relative weak spot. I feel the opposite will probably be tight finish. Tight finish has been a weak spot for Clemson the previous two seasons and I be expecting that to proceed.
Sophomore TE Braden Galloway appeared set to fill the void on the place this yr, however his Ostarine (an NCAA banned substance) suspension used to be upheld and he’ll pass over all of subsequent yr. It’s irritating as a result of it kind of feels like his ingestion used to be unintended. Additional, Garrett Williams, who used to be our number one TE final yr, is most probably going to enlist in america Marine Corps. I’ll be extremely pleased with him if/when he does, however it could be a blow to what’s already the roster’s vulnerable spot. Junior J.C. Chalk, who has seldom been used within the passing recreation and early-enrollee true freshman Jaelyn Lay would then be relied upon, however as you’ll be able to see, it’s a reasonably large unknown.
Shifting to UNC, what did the Fedora buyout and Mack Brown rent appear to be to you in the beginning, as outsiders, and what do you call to mind it now, after a couple of months and a seeming sure flip for this system?
RK: I feel I used to be some of the previous few who appreciated Larry Fedora, however issues grew stale and it used to be no doubt affordable to transport on. I assumed Scott Satterfield used to be the most obvious transfer and would’ve been a excellent one. I additionally concept Neal Brown (Previously at Troy, now at WVU) would had been a powerful choice. The Mack Brown transfer shocked me, and whilst I appreciated it from the viewpoint of it being attention-grabbing and amusing, I didn’t suppose it used to be smart. Once they employed two very robust coordinators and swiped Sam Howell from FSU, I’m extra constructive. It’ll be attention-grabbing to peer how [defensive coordinator] Jay Bateman, who’s used to enjoying reverse a triple-option offense, works with Longo, who will set up an up-tempo offense. Nonetheless, issues glance excellent and on the very least, UNC will have to be intriguing within the close to long term.
(solutions had been evenly edited for readability)