As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Wednesday over the summer. SU will continue its 2015 ACC schedule when they play Clemson on Nov. 14.
HEISMAN CANDIDATE: Deshaun Watson oozes potential. In eight tantalizing games last season, the sophomore quarterback threw for 1,466 yards and 14 touchdowns. His passer rating was 188.6, which would’ve been tops in the ACC had he qualified. But a broken hand, and later a torn ACL, cut short his campaign, and Watson had to watch from the sideline as the Tigers trounced Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Watson is now healthy and the rest of the ACC is on notice after he was named the Preseason ACC Player of the Year. There’s also plenty of Heisman buzz. “He’s as advertised,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said at ACC Kickoff. “Really excited about his future, his potential. Can’t wait to get him back out on the field.”
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Clemson lost offensive coordinator Chad Morris to SMU, but that shouldn’t affect the Tigers too much, as they promoted from within. Swinney will hope for continuity from former running backs coach Tony Elliott and wide receivers coach Jeff Scott, who are now co-offensive coordinators. They will probably be calling plenty of plays for Artavis Scott, who caught 76 passes for 965 yards and eight touchdowns in his freshman season. Another sophomore to watch for is running back Wayne Gallman. He finished with 769 yards and four touchdowns in his first year.
PREDICTION: Watson was out for Syracuse’s 16-6 loss to Clemson last year, and the Orange mostly contained his backup, Cole Stoudt. If SU has to face Watson this season, it will have its hands full trying to contain the dual-threat quarterback. As for the Tigers, they return just two starters from a defense that was one of 2014’s best. But Clemson has won at least 10 games for four straight seasons, and will compete for an ACC title again. CLEMSON 35, SYRACUSE 17.