Senior Cole Stoudt was chosen in the spring as the replacement for the most productive quarterback in school history. The backup for three seasons, he has a solid pedigree as the son of a former pro QB. Deshaun Watson is the future, but ideally it’s Stoudt’s team. Though he doesn’t have Boyd’s arm or his running ability, there shouldn’t be the occasional lapses in judgment of last season that were – at times – crippling.
2. WIDE RECEIVER
Losing the school’s two most productive receivers in consecutive NFL drafts created a crevice that senior Adam Humphries can’t fill alone. If former blue-chip prospect Charone Peake rebounds from knee surgeries, Mike Williams matures and at least one of the talented freshmen emerge, there should be plenty of options. One caveat: Tight ends Jordan Leggett and Stanton Seckinger are potential game-changers as receivers.
3. RUNNING BACK
The running game last year fell to undersized Rod McDowell and quarterback Boyd. There might not be a 1,000-yard rusher in the stable after McDowell’s remarkably productive season, but Clemson coaches are hoping to take the blinders off a thoroughbred or two from freshmen Tyshon Dye, Wayne Gallman and Adam Choice.
Injuries decimated the corners the past two seasons, and Bashaud Breeland’s decision to enter the NFL early was crippling. Freshman MacKensie Alexander and sophomore Cordrae Tankersley were listed as starters out of spring practice, and seniors Martin Jenkins and Garry Peters are experienced and savvy. Alexander could be the best cover corner since Justin Miller.
5. RIGHT TACKLE
When right tackle starter Giff Timothy’s career succumbed to multiple injuries, Clemson’s line allowed 91 tackles for loss and 35 sacks. Four players could be in the mix to replace him with Joe Gore and Shaq Anthony the favorites. Kalon Davis or Eric Mac Lane might fit, but they are playing other offensive line postions now. Anthony is suspended for the Georgia game.