Previewing the '13 schedule: Part II

The second half of the 2013 schedule has three of the four most critical games on the Clemson schedule. Fortunately, for the Tigers, two of the three are at Death Valley.

Florida State - Saturday, Oct. 19

Their previous opponent: BYE

Quick preview
E.J. Manuel is gone. So are several assistants from last year's staff. But there's still plenty of talent on the Seminoles' roster, particularly with the running back duo of Devonta Freeman and James Wilder, Jr. And most of the starting offensive line is back, too.

Several key contributors are gone from the defense, including Bjoern Werner, Everett Dawkins, Cornellius Carradine, Nick Moody, Vince Williams and Xavier Rhodes. Like the offense, there's still plenty of talent left on that side of the ball -- that's what happens when you recruit like Florida State has over the last few years.

In 2011, the last time Florida State played at Clemson, the Tigers won, 35-30.

The timing
Clemson fans might be a little upset about Florida State getting a bye week before this year's game. Maybe that's the ACC's way of evening things out from a couple of years ago. Florida State played Oklahoma the week before the 2011 trip to Clemson. It's good to see this game in October. Clemson vs. Florida State in September is too early.

at Maryland - Saturday, Oct. 26

Their previous opponent: at Wake Forest

Quick preview
Assuming he's fully recovered by October, one would have to assume that C.J. Brown will be the starting quarterback for Maryland when Clemson heads up to College Park. He torched the Tigers the last time they visited. Brown rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown and passed for 177 yards with three scores.

Whoever is playing quarterback for Maryland will have a solid duo of receivers to throw to in Stefon Diggs and Marcus Leak.

Gone from the defense are five starters, including defensive tackle Joe Vellano, an All-ACC player a season ago.

The Tigers squeaked by the Terps with a 56-45 win in 2011.

The timing
Clemson fans all know just how scary it is to travel to Maryland. See: 2011, as noted above; and 2009, which saw the Tigers fall, 24-21. Coming off what expects to be an emotional game against Florida State the turnaround trip to College Park isn't a guaranteed win. Fortunately, for Clemson, this could be the final trip to Maryland.

Tom O'Brien landed on his feet with a job at Virginia.

at Virginia - Saturday, Nov. 2

Their previous opponent: Georgia Tech

Quick preview
There was some serious turnover on the Virginia coaching staff this offseason. Marques Hagans was promoted to a full-time assistant as serving as a graduate assistant for the past two seasons. Cornerbacks coach Chip West assumes the recruiting coordinator position. Former N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien will coach tight ends. Jon Tenuta will serve as defensive coordinator.

Leading rusher Kevin Parks is back along with the top two pass catchers from a season ago. Quarterback Phillip Sims, who transferred in from Alabama, is scheduled to take over as the full-time starter.

This will be Clemson's first visit to Charlottesville since 2008. The Tigers won 13-3 that afternoon.

The timing
The second road trip in as many weeks for Clemson will be followed by an open date. It's the only time in 2013 that the Tigers will have consecutive away games.

Georgia Tech - Thursday, Nov. 14

Their previous opponent: BYE

Quick preview
Vad Lee, who took snaps away from Tevin Washington last season, might be the most talented quarterback Paul Johnson has had since taking over in Atlanta. Last season, Lee competed 27 of 56 passes for 596 yards with four touchdowns and rushed for 544 yards and nine touchdowns.

Also back to the offense are running backs Zach Laskey, David Sims and Robert Godhigh, all of whom rushed for over 400 yards last season. With 15 players returning, the offensive line is one of the deepest positions on the team.

Former Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof will take over in the same capacity and will implement a 3-4 scheme at Georgia Tech.

The timing
It's never fun to face Johnson's triple-option attack. But, with more than a week to prepare for it, it's an ideal situation for Clemson -- couple that with the Thursday night atmosphere in Death Valley and the Tigers should be up for the challenge.

The Citadel - Saturday, Nov. 23

Their previous opponent: VMI

Quick preview
After seeing Georgia Tech's version of the triple-option, Clemson will see The Citadel's. The Bulldogs were fourth among FCS teams in rushing last season with 300.6 yards per game.

The timing
Finally, the ACC will start doing what the SEC has done for the last several years. Since South Carolina is doing it, why shouldn't Clemson?

at South Carolina - Saturday, Nov. 30

Jadeveon Clowney is widely regarded as next year's top pick in the NFL Draft.
Their previous opponent: Coastal Carolina

Quick preview
Back for South Carolina are both quarterbacks -- Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson. Marcus Lattimore is gone. So is Ace Sanders.

But Jadeveon Clowney is expected to be back, just as long as he doesn't suddenly decide to skip his junior season. There was plenty of turnover at linebacker. Shaq Wilson, Reginald Bowens, Quin Smith, Damario Jeffery and Devonte Holloman are all gone.

Not that the fans need to be reminded, but Clemson hasn't beaten South Carolina since Dabo Swinney took over as full-time head coach.

The timing
It hasn't always been here, but the final game of the season is where it's expected to be every year. Top Stories