2022 Clemson Tigers Preview

by Matt Fargo

Clemson Tigers

2021-22 Season Record 10-3 (6-2 ACC Atlantic) - 5-8-0 ATS - 4-8-1 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 9
Defense - 6

Overview

Most any team would take back-to-back 10-win seasons but those can be considered downers for Clemson after having won at least 12 games in the previous five campaigns. Still very damn good and the Tigers will look to extend their 11 consecutive double-digit win seasons in 2022 and they once again have the firepower to do so. Last year was the first one since 2014 that Clemson was not ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll at some point in the season as it got to No. 3 and finished No. 14, the third lowest in the 11 years. Head coach Dabo Swinney has built one of the best programs in the country and it is not going anywhere as it should roll through the ACC once again with a loaded roster that will improve in areas it fell short in 2021. The Tigers have the fourth lowest odds to win the National Championship at +1,000 so expectations remain sky high along with the other usual suspects.

Offense

The offense was easily the downfall for Clemson as it was No. 95 in total offense and No. 79 in scoring offense as it had its worst quarterback play in quite some time. D.J. Uiagalelei was bad as he completed only 54.7 percent of his passes while throwing nine touchdowns and nine interceptions and while he will come in as the starter unless fall camp is a disaster, he needs to pick it up with Cade Klubnik, a five-star recruit from Austin who bucked the Longhorns, ready and waiting. There are big time playmakers at receiver to get the ball to as the top target is gone but the next two in line in Joseph Ngata and Beaux Collins return. The running game was decent with Will Shipley and Kobe Pace sharing the carries and putting up 1,268 yards and should evolve more behind a veteran offensive line that did its job and will be better in opening holes and pass protection.

Defense

Clemson has had a slight drop off on defense the last two seasons but very slight and it finished No. 9 overall and No. 2 in scoring defense, allowing only 15.0 ppg. The Tigers bring back six starters and while the two top tacklers have moved on, they are loaded at every level. The strength is the defensive line with four potential NFL players manning a great run stopping unit and the ability to get to the quarterback. Clemson finished No. 8 in rushing defense and had 42 sacks which was tenth most in the nation so they will once again be all over the place in opponent backfields. Some key losses took place in the linebacking corps but there is experience and of course talent. Clemson was not great against the pass last year and have a bunch to replace as it lost both corners but just like every level, the newcomers are not green and should step in and be just fine.

2022 Season Outlook

Clemson has been so good and so dominant that it has been an underdog during the regular season only two times since 2015 and despite all of the chalk, they are still up in the money. The Tigers closed last season with six straight wins and they can carry that into this season although momentum is not an issue. They open with a conference game against Georgia Tech in Atlanta and then have a pair of nonconference home games against Furman and Louisiana Tech before going fully into the ACC. Three of the next four games are on the road with a couple small tests but nothing they should not get through. The final four conference games are at home with a game at Notre Dame mixed in and that could decide CFP or bust since it is in November. The O/U wins are at 10.5 and while that is big, they will be favored in every game with ND possibly an exception. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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