On this edition I got to sit down with Mark Gordon of Shakin’ The Southland. It’s always a pleasure working with these guys, thanks for chatting with us!
1) Even with a perfect start what's been the biggest struggle of adjustment to life without Deshaun Watson?
Tiger fans have certainly been spoiled over the past three seasons thanks to the services of Deshaun Watson. With Watson moving on to the NFL and Junior Kelly Bryant taking the helm, the biggest change to the Clemson has been the pocket presence of Bryant. Although he leads the team in rushing yards with 362, almost all of them have come from the designed quarterback run. Bryant does tend to hang onto the ball in the pocket when he is looking to pass, where Watson was more aware and fluent in his ability to make plays on the fly. With Wake Forest's leading the nation in Tackles for Loss, the offense may have to look to get the ball out of his hands quickly to make sure that this character trait doesn't cost them.
2) Just how big of an impact has Tavien Feaster made on this offense?
The biggest question mark entering the 2017 season for the Tigers was the running back position, and replacing Wayne Gallman in the backfield. Coach Swinney was confident in the four running backs that he had entering the season, and he is currently having the last laugh at the doubters, specifically when it comes to Feaster. Feaster has emerged as the #1 running back on the depth chart after entering the season at #3, and his biggest impact has come from the pass game. While he only has 3 catches on the season, we saw last week just how dangerous he can be out of the backfield, as Bryant connected with Feaster for a 60 yard touchdown. Look for Clemson to further utilize Feaster in the pass game as the season goes along.
3) What do you see being the biggest pitfall for Clemson this week?
It sounds cliché, but the biggest pitfall this week for the Tigers may just be the potential to be looking behind them. After another marquee victory in primetime over Virginia Tech this weekend, Wake Forest has the ability to catch Clemson napping after an absolutely brutal portion of their schedule which saw them play 3 top 15 ranked teams in the month of September. We saw a bit of this during the Boston College game as the game was tied 7-7 entering the fourth quarter, before Clemson broke the game open late. Clemson will have to keep their heads on their shoulders if they expect to come out of this game unscathed.
4) Who's made the biggest impact on the defensive side of the ball?
There is so much talent in the front seven for the Tigers, including Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkens, Dorian O'Daniel and Kendall Joseph, that many people are always surprised when they hear me say that the biggest impact player on the defense this season so far has been Senior CB Ryan Carter. Clemson's secondary has been banged up this season losing Treyvon Mullen to a concussion and Marcus Edmonds to a leg injury, but Carter has been the most reliable player on the field the entire season. Look for Carter to match up with Freshman receiver Greg Dortch for most of the game in an attempt to keep Mark Wolford's favorite target at bay.
5) What do you see happening in Death Valley on Saturday?
I'm expecting an early dog fight in Death Valley on Saturday. Wake Forest is going to be fired up after losing a game to Florida State in which they outplayed them for 55 minutes at home. A majority of Wake Forest's offense has come from Wolford, and I expect Clemson to key on #10, and make someone else provide the points. I'm predicting a score of 31-13 in favor of Clemson on Saturday.