2019 Schedule Breakdown: Clemson Tigers

The Tigers enter 2019 at the peak of their dynasty, fresh of the first 15-0 season in modern college football history. They lose some great juniors and seniors, but return a ton of key players and are projected to return to the college football playoff. What stands in their way? We break it down their schedule in both the video and article below. Check them out and let me know what you think in the comments, on twitter, and on Facebook!

August

Week 1 (Aug 29): Georgia Tech
Clemson Memorial Stadium

The Tigers kickoff the season against the rebuilding Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and new coach Geoff Collins. He has the tough task of transitioning the program away from the triple-option offensive. It’ll be a rare Thursday home game for Clemson. It’ll be at 8pm and be the first game on the new ACC Network.

September

Week 2 (Sep 7): Texas A&M
Clemson Memorial Stadium

Week 3 (Sep 14): at Syracuse
Carrier Dome

Week 4 (Sept 21): Charlotte
Clemson Memorial Stadium

Week 5 (Sep 28): at North Carolina
Kenan Memorial Stadium

September is by far Clemson’s toughest month of the season. Their two toughest games come back-to-back as they host the Texas A&M Aggies and then travel to Syracuse. Both teams gave the Tigers a scare last year and are equipped to do so again.

Texas A&M return QB Kellen Mond, four starting offensive linemen, and two starting WRs. Additionally, we’ve seen Coach Fisher find ways to keep up with Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables. It is always a chess match between those two great football minds when their teams meet. The Aggies have the talent and acumen to find the end zone. Fortunately for Clemson, Texas A&M only returns four starters on a defense that ranked a mediocre 47th in points allowed per game (25.3). Not only that, but the Trevor Lawrence they’ll face this time has a year of experience and is vastly improved. This has some shootout potential.

The game will be at 3:30pm on ABC. Texas A&M is ranked #10 in the Athlon pre-season rankings.

The week after facing Texas A&M, the Tigers will have to quickly refocus and face what very well could be the Atlantic Division deciding game in Syracuse. Eric Dungey is gone, but Tommy DeVito led the way in wins over UNC and FSU last season. Their up-tempo attack will look different, but it should remain strong after averaging 40.2 points per game last season (11th). They return all their starters in the secondary which should make for some excellent WR/DB matchups when Clemson’s offense is on the field.

Clemson is 1-1 in their last two contests with Syracuse. Both were close, but both also featured game-ending injuries for the Clemson QB. Athlon ranked them #21 in their pre-season rankings. The game will be at 7:30pm on ABC. The winner of this game has a wide open path to the ACC Championship, a game that the Atlantic Division winner has won eight straight (Virginia Tech 2010 was the last Coast champ to win the ACC).

The September schedule eases up after Syracuse. Next, they get Charlotte from Conference USA where they’re projected to finish near the bottom of their division. They’re ranked #112 in Athlon’s preseason poll.

Clemson ends the month with their first trip to Chapel Hill since 2010. Mack Brown has quickly turned the ship around for the Heels as their recruiting is on fire. They swiped QB commit Sam Howell from FSU and even got Clemson CB Kyler McMichael via transfer (eligible in 2020). Their 2020 class is ranked 11th by Rivals (as of July 21, 2019). They have young promising new coordinators and will play an up-tempo offense with Phil Longo coming over from Ole Miss. That said, they still need more time. Athlon only ranks them #68 in their pre-season poll. Their defense is still weak and they’ll struggle to slow Clemson.

October

Week 6 (Oct 5): Bye Week

Week 7 (Oct 12): Florida State
Clemson Memorial Stadium

Week 8 (Oct 19): at Louisville
Cardinal Stadium

Week 9 (Oct 26) – Boston College
Clemson Memorial Stadium

Things ease up in October. They start with a bye week and then play two of their next three at home. First comes Florida State, which could be their toughest remaining game. It’s hard to say how much the Seminoles will improve, but Athlon sports ranks them #33 in their pre-season poll. They should improve at QB with James Blackmon coming off a redshirt and Wisconsin transfer Alex Hornibrook joining the program. They have strong talent at WR and RB, namely Tammorion Terry and Cam Akers, respectively.

A road trip to Louisville should be tough, but Louisville is deep in rebuilding mode. New head coach Scott Satterfield has a great shot to turn things around, but it’ll take time. They don’t have much besides some good receivers on offense and while they return nine starters on defense, it is from a unit that surrendered 44.1 points per game (128th).

Clemson closes the month with a home game against Boston College. BC is a perennial seven-win program it seems and that may not be much different this season. They bring back juniors QB Anthony Brown and RB AJ Dillon, but lose a lot on the offensive line and a ton of defense. Their defense is expected to take a step back this season.

You may have picked up on a theme and that’s the lack of good defenses Clemson projects to play in the regular season. It’s a shame they may not get challenged before the playoff, but it should allow generous use of back-ups to build depth and avoid injuries. It also could help generate some eye-popping numbers for what could be a historic offense.

November

Week 10 (Nov 2): Wofford
Clemson Memorial Stadium

Week 11 (Nov 9): at  NC State
Carter-Finley Stadium

Week 12 (Nov 16): Wake Forest
Clemson Memorial Stadium

Week 13 (Nov 23): Bye Week

Week 14 (Nov 30): at South Carolina
Williams-Brice Stadium

Clemson opens November against an FCS team before going on the road to face NC State and then returning home for Wake Forest. They then close with their second bye week of the season before the Palmetto Bowl.

Although Georgia Tech no longer runs the triple-option, the Tigers will still see it when they face the Wofford Terriers of the SoCon. The Terriers are in the second year under Josh Conklin after three decades under Coach Mike Ayers. They’re ranked #10 in the FCS by Athlon Sports, but Clemson has never lost to an FCS team.

Next Clemson goes to NC State. The Wolfpack has posted back-to-back 9-4 seasons, but their best wins during those years came against eventual seven and eight win teams. They lose their star QB, sixth-year senior Ryan Finley, who was drafted 104th to the Bengals as well as his top target Kelvin Harmon.

For their final ACC game, Clemson hosts Wake Forest. The Tigers blew the Deacons out of the water last season 63-3 as injuries destroyed their depth. Wake Forest returns both Sam Hartman and Jamie Newman, each of whom quarterbacked the team successfully last season. Regardless of who wins the job, they should have one of the better signal callers in the ACC. Dave Clawson is an underrated offensive mind and their up-tempo attack should be one of the better offenses in the conference. Their defense, which allowed 33.3 point per game last season only returns four starters and could be bad.

Following the Wake Forest game, Clemson gets a rare second bye week before the Palmetto Bowl.

Clemson has won the rivalry five straight times after losing the four previous. Many of the Clemson wins have been in blowout fashion, but last year QB Jake Bentley and WR Deebo Samuel kept up before losing 56-35. Samuel is off to the NFL, but Jake Bentley is back for his senior year. Although they were shutout by Virginia (0-28) in the Belk Bowl when Samuel sat out, their offense should manage to be solid. Their defense may be a step behind as they only returns five starters and ranked just 67th allowing 27.2 point per game.

The game is in Columbia this year and it would be a solid win, though the Tigers are unlikely to get credit for it because U of SC’s insane schedule includes Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Texas A&M, not to mention Kentucky who has beaten them 5 straight. They’ll likely have five or six losses on the schedule when they play Clemson, but it would still be a solid road win for the Tigers.

Death Valley

In conclusion, Clemson’s path back to the playoff is rather straight forward. Survive the first three weeks undefeated and the path is clear. A 3-0 start would mean they won the opener, beat their marquee non-conference opponent, and earned a head-to-head tie-breaker over the toughest Atlantic Division rival. The work begins on Thursday, August 29th!

 

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One thought on “2019 Schedule Breakdown: Clemson Tigers

  1. Pingback: 2019 Clemson Tigers Schedule Preview / FIND THE LOSS | Trending now

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