Clemson Preview 2006
Clemson DE Gaines Adams
Posted Jul 31, 2006

The drama is over, and now Clemson is on the verge of being a powerhouse again like it hasn't been since the late 1980s.

Offense | Defense | Depth ChartFurther Analysis

After head coach Tommy Bowden hung on to his job by the skin of his teeth, he has turned the team from being a decent ACC fly in the ointment to a real, live contender for the crown. The overall athleticism and talent level is there to beat anyone in the country, and now the experience is in place to be more consistent and win all the close games.  

How close did the 2005 Tigers come from being really special? 14 points. They lost to Miami in three overtimes, lost to Boston College in overtime, lost at Wake Forest with :33 to play, and lost to Georgia Tech after being one play from getting into game-winning field goal range. In all, Clemson played seven games decided by seven points or fewer, but this year's team might be good enough to avoid all the close calls. 

Head coach: Tommy Bowden
8th year: 52-33
10th year overall: 70-37
Returning Lettermen: 47
Lettermen Lost: 20
Ten Best Tiger Players
1. DE Gaines Adams, Sr.
2. LB Anthony Waters, Sr.
3. RB James Davis, Soph.
WR Chansi Stuckey, Sr.
LB Nick Watkins, Jr.
6. LB Tramaine Bille, Sr.
7. PK Jad Dean, Sr.
8. C Dustin Fry, Sr.
9. OG Roman Fry, Sr.
10. RB Reggie Merriweather, Sr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 10-2

9/2 Florida Atlantic
9/9 at Boston College
9/16 at Florida State
9/23 North Carolina
9/30 Louisiana Tech
10/7 at Wake Forest
10/14 at Temple
10/21 Georgia Tech
10/26 at Virginia Tech
11/4 Maryland
11/11 NC State
11/25 South Carolina

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-5
2005 Record:
Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Texas A&M W 25-24
9/10 at Maryland W 28-24
9/17 Miami L 36-30 3OT
9/24 Boston Coll L 16-13 OT
10/1 at Wake Forest L 31-27
10/13 at NC State W 31-10
10/22 Temple W 37-7
10/29 at Georgia Tech L 10-9
11/5 Duke W 49-20
11/12 Florida State W 35-14
11/19 at So Carolina W 13-9
12/27 Champs Sports Bowl
Colorado W 19-10

Clemson is in a great position to not only do great things this year, but to also be solid for years to come with a ton of productive and talented sophomores at just about every position mixing in with a strong group of veterans. The offensive line gets everyone back, the backfield has four good running backs, the receiving corps gets Chansi Stuckey and Aaron Kelly back, and the defense has two potential NFL first rounders in end Gaines Adams and linebacker Anthony Waters to build around. Throw in one of the nation's best kickers, Jad Dean, and the mix is just right to win the Atlantic Division.

To finally get over the hump in the Bowden era, the Tigers don't just have to get past the Florida States and Boston Colleges of the ACC world, they have to get by the mediocre teams, too. And that's been Bowden's problem; his teams can beat anyone, but they can also lose to anyone.

Last year they lost to a Wake Forest team that didn't go anywhere. In 2004 they lost to Duke a week after beating Miami and lost to the Demon Deacons in 2003. If Clemson can stay focused for an entire season and not give any games away, this will be the team to watch.

Clemson isn't going to sneak up on anyone, especially the big boys in the Atlantic, but it might not matter. It's good enough to get the job done.

The Schedule: It's not that bad. The non-conference schedule is a walk in the park before the season finale against South Carolina. There's Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech and a road trip to Temple sprinkled throughout the ACC season. On the down side, the conference road games are brutal starting off at Boston College and Florida State and getting a Thursday night trip to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech. The second half of the season works out well starting out with the layup against Temple before getting four of the final five games in Death Valley.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Chansi Stuckey. The former quarterback's transition to wide receiver was more than successful. He finished last season as the ACC's leader in receptions per game showing an uncanny ability to always get open. Now he'll have to be even more of a playmaker with the ball in his hands without Charlie Whitehurst throwing to him.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Gaines Adams. A certain first day draft pick had he left this season and a likely second rounder, Adams is a phenomenal athlete who does everything well. He's quick enough to play linebacker at the next level with great skills as a pass defender, and he's strong enough to handle himself well on the end where he's a pass rushing terror.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Will Proctor. The understudy is as prepared as he'll ever be. He's not going to drive his throws deep like Charlie Whitehurst was able to, but he's a good runner and could turn out to run the attack better because of his mobility. As good as Whitehurst was, he had problems with interceptions. If Proctor can simply be efficient and let his ground game carry the offense, Clemson will be just fine.

The season will be a success if ... Clemson wins the Atlantic Division. The team is too experienced and too talented not to play for the ACC title. It's not going to be easy needing to win two of the four ACC road games against Boston College, Florida State, Wake Forest (who's much better this year), and Virginia Tech.

Key game: Sept. 16 at Florida State. The Bowden vs. Bowden thing isn't that big a deal anymore since the stakes have gone much higher. Clemson might have won two of the last three showdowns, but it has only won once in Tallahassee since 1976. An Atlantic Division title probably won't happen without pulling this off.

2005 Fun Stats: 
First quarter scoring: Clemson 62 - Opponents 29
- Penalties: Opponents 102 for 787 yards - Clemson 57 for 486 yards
- Points off turnovers: Clemson 55 - Opponents 13

The Last Time Clemson…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Champs Sports Bowl v. Colorado)
…missed a bowl game…2004
…pitched a shutout…2000 (Citadel)
…was shutout…2003 (Georgia)
…scored 50 points…2003 (South Carolina)
…went undefeated…1981
…won a conference title…1991 (ACC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2003 (Charlie Whitehurst)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2001 (Woody Dantzler)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2000 (Rod Gardner)
…had a first-round draft choice…2001 (WR Rod Gardner)