ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit does not expect 2017 to be a transition year for Clemson, but he does think the Tigers will have “more of a challenge” than last season.
Herbstreit pointed to the players Clemson lost on offense and its schedule as reasons it is possible the Tigers will take a step back.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily a transition year. I just think when you lose a player of that magnitude (in Deshaun Watson), and you take out Wayne Gallman, you take out Mike Williams, Jordan Leggett, that’s a lot of production to take away from an offense and expect the next group not to miss a beat,” Herbstreit said on an ESPN conference call last week.
“I think you’re dealing with being that team that won last year with the big target that everybody wants a piece of. The schedule I think is tougher with Auburn – they’re at Louisville, they’re at Virginia Tech this year. Even a game like at N.C. State. I just think I would not want to be quoted as saying it’s a transition year. I just think it’s going to be more of a challenge, obviously, for them this year.”
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Herbstreit did point out that Clemson has been recruiting at an incredibly high level. He would not be surprised to see the Tigers reach double-digit wins.
“I think if you look around him, they’ve got athletes everywhere. Clemson’s recruiting now the last probably five years at a level that very few teams are in the whole country. It’s only going to get stronger with Dabo (Swinney), the new facility. The brand right now has never been hotter. They’re capitalizing on it,” Herbstreit said. “I still think they’re a team that could still win 11 or 12 games this year.”