By Dalton Ray–
Cole Little is a senior writer for Clemson’s student newspaper The Tiger. You can follow their paper on Twitter @TheTigerSports.
Question: Quarterback Deshaun Watson replaced Clemson great Tajh Boyd and took the Tigers to a new level. What are thoughts around Kelly Bryant replacing Watson?
Answer: Bryant has proven thus far to be a highly effective quarterback. No, he doesn’t boast the same level of natural talent in the passing game as Deshaun Watson, but he is definitely very talented. Mobile, heady and poised, Bryant is the perfect quarterback to lead this young Clemson offense.
Q: Clemson’s defensive line is one of the nation’s best. What makes them so special?
A: Clemson’s defensive line is ridiculously talented. From generational talents in Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins to versatile pass rushers in Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell, the defensive line is stacked with freak athletes who are capable of impacting the game in a significant way. Serving as the backbone of the defense for the past three years now, the Clemson defensive line has quietly been the most impactful area of the depth chart for the Tigers in their recent run of success.
Q: Dabo Sweeney has stocked his team with talent since taking over. Which position group could be better in 2017 after the national championship?
A: Clemson’s offensive line is actually improved this season, even though it was great last year, too. Despite losing key cog Jay Guillermo at center, Justin Falcinelli has stepped up to fare well on an offensive line that has benefited from being more experienced and deeper this season as compared to last. Sporting Tyrone Crowder and Mitch Hyatt, two of the ACC’s best offensive linemen, Clemson’s O-line is excellent.
Q: Ben Boulware was the heart of the Tiger defense last season. Is there anyone who is taking on the level of his leadership role?
A: Boulware was definitely quite the player while at Clemson. Proving to be the undisputed leader of the Clemson defense during his junior and senior seasons, Boulware left a void that needed filling when he departed for the NFL. But All-American defensive tackle Christian Wilkins has done an excellent job of taking on that leadership role. Vocal, talented and charismatic, Wilkins does not necessarily boast the same ultra-intense personality of Boulware, but he has certainly proved to be the leading force for the Tiger defense so far this season.
Q: Who are two names Louisville fans need to look out for?
A: When Clemson and Louisville met last season, wide receiver Deon Cain was simply a role player, forced to wait his turn behind stellar wideouts Mike Williams and Artavis Scott. Now, Cain, who is as prominent a downfield threat as any receiver in the ACC, is quickly proving to be the next superstar in the making at “Wide Receiver U.”
On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Dorian O’Daniel has been playing like a man possessed to start the season, recently collecting 14 tackles in a game. Often overshadowed by the likes of freak talents, such as the aforementioned Lawrence and Wilkins, O’Daniel is actually one of the most NFL-ready defenders that Clemson sports on its roster.
Q: Who wins and why?
A: Clemson’s defense has been nearly perfect at the start of the season and Louisville’s definitely has not. Although Lamar Jackson should play well, the Tiger defense will likely keep him in check just enough to allow Clemson to steal a road win. Expect Bryant to shine brightly in his first road test, leading the Tigers to a hard-fought 27-24 victory.
You can follow Dalton Ray on Twitter @dray5477.
Photo by Dalton Ray / The Louisville Cardinal