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Gridiron Players Club CFB (9/4/23)

CFB (1 Pick)


8:00pm est: Clemson -12.5 (2 Units)

Clemson should be back on the map as a National Contender. After some down years offensively, the pieces are back in place for Dabo Swinney's Tigers. QB Cade Klubnik replaces DJ Uiagalelei. Klubnik is a much more natural passer than DJ, who could just never get the Tigers over the hump. They also brought in OC Garrett Riley. He lead the prolific Air Raid TCU offense a season ago.

Clemson returning 4 of their 5 starters to their offensive line is a major plus. Their one replacement comes in the form of 5 ⭐ prospect Tristan Leigh. They're tasked with blocking a veteran Duke defensive line getting a lot of praise heading into this season. Duke's defense as a whole is getting some love this pre-season and it's because of a strong 2022 and returning starters. They were a bit fortunate scheduling wise last year.

They didn't play Clemson or FSU last year, the top 2 teams in the ACC. Their non-conference schedule consisted of a 1-11 Northwestern team and a 6-7 Kansas team. The real offenses they did play had no problems scoring. North Carolina put up 38, Wake Forest scored 31, and Pitt scored 28. Clemson's roster has more talent than all 3 of those programs.

Defensively Clemson is poised to have a great season as Wes Goodwin enters year 2 at DC. They had a "down" year last year but that just goes to show the standard they set. They still ranked 19th in points allowed per game in 2022. An inexperienced secondary letting up a few too many chunk plays had a lot to do with that. However Nate Wiggins emerged as a true CB1, Sheridan Jones is back for a 5th season following an injury plagued 2022, then there's the highly rated prospect duo of Toriano Pride and Jeadyn Lukus who received invaluable experience last year. They also return 3 starters at safety.

Their defensive line is usually elite and this year's no exception. They're a little thinner at edge depth then they'd like but roll out two 6th year seniors as starters. The interior of their DL is loaded. Tyler Davis and Ruke Orhorhoro both decided to forgo the NFL draft and return for their redshirt senior seasons. There's two Juniors to act as depth but it's the freshman 5⭐Peter Woods set to make an immediate impact. The 2023 #1 overall defensive prospect has turned heads in camp and earned co-starting honor with NFL ready Davis and Orhorhoro. He's part of a loaded 2023 defensive class for Clemson that brings in a ton of talent to it's secondary too.

They also have arguably the best LB room as they return 2 of the top 5 linebackers in the country. This was also their first season under defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin. It was also Goodwin's first year as a Defensive Coordinator. There was a lot of room for growth for an already pretty good Clemson defense and we expect them to make the Elite leap for 2023.

This is really about the talent disparity. Duke over achieved last year while Clemson under achieved. Duke played well offensively in 2022 but they also didn't play a single elite defense. This Clemson offense finally has a QB that can push the ball down the field again and a good offensive coordinator in Garrett Riley.

If this was later in the year, this would be stronger than a 2 unit play. But Clemson is on the road with a brand new offense with a rather inexperienced QB at the helm. There could be some growing pains before Clemson settles into this game.


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