2009 Clemson Tigers Football Preview
2008 Record: (7-6, 4-4)
2008 Bowl: Gator Bowl vs. Nebraska (L 21-26)
Offensive Coordinator: Billy Napier
Defensive Coordinator: Charlie Harbison and Kevin Steele
Returning Leaders for Clemson:
Other Key Returnees: DE Kevin Alexander, C Thomas Austin, OT Chris Hairston, LB DeAndre McDaniel, TE Michael Palmer, OT Landon Walker
Key Losses: K Mark Buchholz, S Chris Clemons, RB James Davis, WR Tyler Grisham, S Mike Hamlin, QB Cullen Harper, DT Rashad Jackson, WR Aaron Kelly, DT Dorell Scott
Tommy Bowden was fired half way through the season and Coach Dabo Swinney stepped into the head coaching role. The Tigers played some of their best football of the year under Coach Swinney and they managed to make a bowl game after such things looked quite unlikely in the middle of October. Now the interim tag is off of Coach Swinney’s title and this is his team and he has plenty of work to do.
C.J. Spiller apparently really struggled with his decision whether to enter the NFL Draft or not. He was back and forth much of the winter and, luckily for Clemson, opted to return. Spiller will be the offense for this team and without him the Tigers would be in deep trouble. The back seven on defense has some holes to fill, but they also return some talented players. Corners Crezdon Butler and Chris Chancellor helped propel Clemson into the top 15 in pass defense in the entire nation. Linebacker Kavll Conner had a superb junior season and led the team with 125 total tackles. With DeAndre McDaniel and Brandon Maye also returning to their starting jobs, the Tigers linebacker corps should be the best unit in their defense.
However, the entire defense will suffer if nobody can get pressure on the quarterback. The team barely tallied over one sack per game and no individual tallied more than two on the entire season. Defensive end Ricky Sapp was supposed to be the main man on the end heading into the 2008 season, but he was quite disappointing. If he, along with players like Kevin Alexander and Da’quan Bowers cannot get into the backfield, the Tigers defense will be picked apart by most teams. The line on the other side is not much better. Everybody is back, but the unit gave up a ton of sacks and ranked 103 rd in the nation in that category. The line better grow up fast and help their young quarterback or it could be a long, long season for the Tigers.
The Bottom Line for the Tigers:
Like most of the team, quarterback Cullen Harper also had a disappointing senior season. Willy Korn had all the hype heading out of high school and has done a decent job backing up Harper. However, redshirt freshman Kyle Parker is also in the mix. Parker is a more mobile quarterback who can create with his feet and that might be very important if the offensive line struggles as much as they did last season. Making matters worse for either quarterback is the absence of Aaron Kelly. The receiver led the team with 67 receptions for 722 yards and four touchdowns. Jacoby Ford will be the new go-to-guy, but the Tigers have to find another receiving option or two.
2008 Clemson Tigers Team Stats:
By Joel Welser
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