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Clemson Preview 2006 - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 31, 2006


Clemson Tigers Preview 2006 - Clemson Tiger offense

What you need to know ... The offense should impressive despite the loss of longtime starting quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. It all starts up front with a senior dominated line with all five starters returning and plenty of depth ready to fill in the holes. The receiving corps is strong led by Chansi Stuckey and Aaron Kelly, and the backfield is among the best in the ACC with James Davis and Reggie Merriweather just two of the team's very good backs. Will Proctor isn't going to throw like Whitehurst, but he'll run and be more of an all-around playmaker. Expect the offense to run more than it did last year.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Will Proctor
18-31, 281 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: James Davis
117 carries, 879 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Chansi Stuckey
64 catches, 770 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore RB James Davis
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Will Proctor
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman RB Demerick Chancellor
Best pro prospect: Junior OT Barry Richardson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Davis, 2) WR Chansi Stuckey, 3) C Dustin Fry
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, running back
Weakness of the offense:
Quarterback experience

Quarterbacks
While it might be tough to replace the passing, production and leadership of Charlie Whitehurst, Clemson might even be in an even better situation going into this year. Will Proctor and his mobility gives the offense more options than it had under Whitehurst. He's a senior veteran who won't need any time to get his feet wet. There are two good prospects waiting in the wings in Cullen Harper and Tribble Reese who'll get plenty of practice time to be groomed for next year. 
The key to the unit: Will Proctor has to hover around the 60% completion mark and be used as a runner. Cullen Harper and Tribble Reese need some meaningful playing time to be ready for next year.
Quarterback Rating: 7

Projected Starter
- Will Proctor, Sr. - 18-31, 281 yds, 58%, 3 TD, 14 carries, 49 yds, 1 TD
Proctor isn't going to be Charlie Whitehurst, but he's an experienced, smart passer with great mobility and a good knowledge of the offense. He got a chance to shine last season filling in for Whitehurst in the win over Duke completing 13 of 21 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, he ran well. While Whitehurst was a big-armed passer, Proctor is more of a precision thrower with the quickness to make things happen with his legs. He'll be more than solid in keeping the offense moving.

Top Backups
- Cullen Harper, Soph. - 1-2, 15 yds
A big, strong quarterback more in the Charlie Whitehurst mold than Will Proctor, Harper has bulked up over the last year to be more of a presence as a pro style passer. This season will be critical, at least in practices, to see if he'll be ready to take over next season.

- Tribble Reese, Soph.
Reese has the best all-around combination of skills among the three quarterbacks. He's 6-4, 200 pounds and can run. He's very smart earning ACC All-Academic honors and should have the offense own as the season goes on. He'll battle with Cullen Harper all year for the number two job.

Running Backs
Is this the ACC's best backfield? If not, it's close with three great options and a true freshman in C.J. Spiller that might turn out to be the best of the bunch. James Davis is a 1,000-yard back waiting to happen with the hands and moves to do everything for the offense, while Reggie Merriweather is a productive, experienced number two back who can handle the starting job if needed. Demerick Chancellor is one of the team's fastest players and should be used as a big play back throughout the year. Alex Pearson is a big blocking fullback who should be a fine replacement for Cliff Harrell.
The key to the unit: Finding enough work for all the talent. A good rotation needs to be developed while not taking anything away from whoever is running the best on a particular day.
Running Back Rating: 9.5

Projected Starters
- James Davis, Soph. - 165 carries, 879 yds, 5.3 ypc, 9 TD, 19 catches, 157 yds
Davis turned in a fantastic true freshman season leading the team in rushing despite missing all or part of three games with a wrist injury. He can do a little of everything well with the speed and quickness to bounce to the outside and the power to be a between-the-tackles runner for tough yards. He also showed excellent hands as a steady three-catch-a-game receiver. He's an every down back who should hit the 1,000-yard mark if he can stay healthy.

- Fullback Alex Pearson, Soph.
Clemson's fullbacks are used for blocking, and Pearson will be no exception taking over for Cliff Harrell. At 255 pounds, the former linebacker is very strong and should grow into the role as the lead man for the running game.

Top Backups
- Reggie Merriweather, Sr. - 149 carries, 715 yds, 4.8 ypc, 7 TD, 8 catches, 49 yds
He's not a huge runner at 5-8 and 215 pounds, but he can pound the ball with the talent and durability to be the workhorse if needed. Even with the emergence of James Davis, Merriweather was effective making the most out of workload and rushing for three straight 100-yard days when Davis was hurt. He's not nearly as flashy as Davis and isn't the same receiver, but Clemson can win with him.

- Demerick Chancellor, RFr.
The speed back in the mix, the 6-1, 195-pound redshirt freshman has sub-4.4 speed and good enough hands to see time at receiver if needed. He could grow into a dangerous third down back.
- C.J. Spiller, Fr.
Spiller might not see the field this season in an already crowded backfield, but that doesn't mean he's not ready. Clemson's top recruit averaged 10.2 yards per carry over the course of his high school career in Lake Butler, Florida and could've gone anywhere he wanted. He's a good receiver who can hit the home run from anywhere on the field.
- Fullback Brent Smith, Sr.

More of a runner than Alex Pearson, the 220-pound senior will look to come back from a torn ACL that cost him all of last year. He'll mostly see time on special teams.

Receivers
This might not be the dominant unit that recent Clemson teams had, but it's a solid group led by Chansi Stuckey. While there aren't many typical Tiger speedsters outside of true freshman Jacoby Ford, it's an athletic corps that should be solid enough to help make QB Will Proctor look good. Aaron Kelly is a big number two target and Rendrick Taylor and Tyler Grisham are emerging inside playmakers. Four tight ends will rotate to fill the lost production of Bobby Williamson with seasoned veteran Thomas Hunter getting the starting nod.
The key to the unit: With the offensive balance likely to shift towards the running side, the receivers have to stay focused. The better the group is at downfield blocking, the more productive the attack will be.
Receiver Rating: 8

Projected Starters
- Chansi Stuckey, Sr. - 64 catches, 770 yds, 12 ypc, 4 TD, 13 carries, 78 yds
The former quarterback stayed healthy for a full season and showed what he could do leading the way in receptions and turning into a steady big play target. He led the ACC in receptions per game highlighted by a brilliant 11-catch, 156-yard, two touchdown day in the win over Florida State. He'll occasionally be used as a runner and could even line up at quarterback for a play or two to throw defenses a curve ball. He's not likely to see as many passes because of the change of quarterback styles, but he should make the most out of his chances.

- Aaron Kelly, Soph. - 47 catches, 575 yds, 12.2 ypc, 2 TD
The 6-5, 190-pound athlete made a huge splash in his freshman year finishing second on the team in receiving and becoming a stunningly steady target. His breakout game was against Temple catching seven passes for 155-yards and a touchdown and caught at least two passes in every game. Now he has to be more of a big play deep threat at the X position after coming back from a spring knee injury.

- Rendrick Taylor, Soph. - 9 catches, 69 yds, 7.7 ypc
Used sparingly throughout last season due to an arm injury, the 6-2, 225 pound sophomore is a strong, physical target who should be perfect for the inside Z position. 

- Tight end Thomas Hunter, Sr. - 13 catches, 120 yds, 9.2 ypc
Hunter ended up stepping in and starting half of last year highlighted by a three-catch game against Colorado. The former walk-on is a big, veteran target who's a better blocker than a receiver.

Top Backups
- Tyler Grisham, Soph. - 10 catches, 101 yds, 10.1 ypc
Grisham will push Rendrick Taylor for time at the Z position. He's a good al-around athlete who can be used as a kick returner and did a good job of filling in for Chansi Stuckey in the Champs Sports Bowl catching two passes for 34 yards.
- La'Donte Harris, Jr. - 5 catches, 52 yds, 8.7 ypc, 1 TD
Harris has been on the verge of being a top player for the offense, but he hasn't been able to break through. He's a quick receiver with the potential to be a starter, but he'll be a key reserve behind Chansi Stuckey at the A position.
- Jacoby Ford, Fr.
Expected to be an immediate home run hitter and one of Clemson's fastest receivers ever, the true freshman is a 4.3 speed demon who'll be used in every way possible to get the ball in his hands. He should be a flash of lightning as a kick returner.

- Tight end Akeem Robinson, Soph.
A great blocker, Robinson was originally considered for the offensive and defensive lines before settling in as a backup tight end. He's 6-5 and 255 pounds and will be great in two tight end sets along with Thomas Hunter and Durrell Barry.

Offensive Linemen
The line is very big and very, very experienced with all five starters returning and several other quality reserves that can step in without missing a beat. Consistency will be the key needing to be better in pass protection. Having a mobile quarterback like Will Proctor will help. It'll be a dominant run blocking unit that should pave the way for well over 2,000 yards on the ground. Roman Fry earned all-star honors at left guard last year, and he won't be the only All-ACC performer this season with tackle Barry Richardson and center Dustin Fry sure to get attention. 

The key to the unit: All the experience has to come together to dominate. Being a bit stronger in pass protection would be a plus after allowing 23 sacks
Offensive Line Rating: 8.5

Projected Starters
- OT Barry Richardson, Jr.
Richardson's claim to fame has been a near shutdown performance of NC State's Mario Williams in last year's 31-10 win. He's an imposing 6-7 and 345 pounds with enough talent to be an all-star over the next two seasons as he becomes more consistent. 
- OG Roman Fry, Sr.
The line's most versatile player settled in at left guard where he earned second-team All-ACC honors despite only getting the starting nod over the second half of the season. The 6-4, 300-pound senior is the team's best run blocker and can step in at center and tackle if needed.
- C Dustin Fry, Sr.
Fry has grown into one of the ACC's top centers turning into a steady, smart quarterback of the front five. He's a huge 325-pound blocker who should earn all-conference honors.
- OG Nathan Bennett, Sr.
The team's most experienced lineman is back for his third year as the starter at right guard. The 305-pound senior is a physical run blocker who's good, but not elite, in pass protection.
- OT Marion Dukes, Sr.
The 6-4, 320-pound senior moves like a much smaller tackle with good, quick feet. He's a big game performer who steps up against the top defensive lines.

Top Backups
- G Brandon Pilgrim, Jr.
The 6-6, 290-pound junior started in four games at guard and will be a top reserve after missing all of 2004. He's good enough to push Nathan Bennett for the starting spot on the right side.
- T Tim DeBeer, Sr.
Good enough to start at most places, the 275-pound senior is a smaller option at left tackle playing behind the 345-pound Barry Richardson. He's a quality reserve who'll see plenty of key snaps.
- G Chris McDuffie, Jr.
The junior is 320 -pounds and physical. He's still learning the job after moving over from the defensive line to backup Roman Fry on the left side.