These predictions can be found in the 2006 Clemson Football Preview edition of CUTigers The Magazine.
This year's 2007 Clemson Football Preview will be available on newstands throughout South Carolina in mid-June. Or to pre-order your copy, please click here.
Offensive MVP: James Davis
WHAT WE SAID THEN: Coming off a season that saw him rush for 879 yards and nine touchdowns, sophomore James Davis is one of the top returning running backs in the league this year and nothing should stand in the way between him and another incredible season. Now weighing in at over 208 pounds, Davis has worked hard this offseason to add extra bulk to make sure he can handle the load of a 12-game regular season. Look for Davis to pick up right where he left off last year and rush for over 1,000 yards.
WHAT WE SAY NOW: It would be hard to argue against Davis and his 1187 yard, 17 touchdown performance from a year ago. Despite the fact Davis suffered from a shoulder injury that limited his effectiveness the last four games of the year, he had a phenomenal season and proved more than worthy of this prediction.
Defensive MVP: LB Anthony Waters
WHAT WE SAID THEN: While bandit end Gaines Adams may garner all the headlines, Waters is one of the steady performers and vocal leaders on a defense that should continue to improve under second year coordinator Vic Koenning.
WHAT WE SAY NOW: A torn ACL in the season opener against Florida Atlantic kept Waters out the remainder of the season, but it didn't prevent him from going on the first day of the 2007 NFL Draft. Still, Adams was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year and had some of the greatest plays of the Tommy Bowden era last year- including a 66-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Wake Forest that almost single-handily won the game.
Most Improved Player on Defense: LB Antonio Clay
WHAT WE SAID THEN: There's a reason why the signing of Antonio Clay in 2005 was so crucial. Simply put, the kid has talent. And while Clay continues to battle senior Tramaine Billie for the starting "Sam" linebacker spot, he's one of several players the coaching staff is expecting big things from this year.
WHAT WE SAY NOW: Clay finished the year tied for third on the team in tackles (95) and tackles for loss (9.5) but was dealt a devastating blow off the field when his sister was involved in a fatal car wreck just days before the Tigers travelled to Boston College in early September. Despite dealing with such a horrible tragedy in the middle of a season, Clay's playing time and production still more than tripled from his freshman year.
Most Improved Player on Offense: WR Rendrick Taylor
WHAT WE SAID THEN: Taylor was so impressive near the end of last season and during spring practice that the Clemson coaching staff elected to create a new position to fully utilize his services. Now called the "J-Back," Taylor has the capability to line up as a fullback, tight end, wide receiver in the slot or as an H-back.
WHAT WE SAY NOW: A broken elbow suffered in the Wake Forest game prevented Taylor from showcasing his talents for most of the year. But even before the injury, the new J-back position was rarely used and Taylor's receiving skills were not needed in early season blowout losses. In all, he played in just seven games, recording 12 catches for 152 yards and one touchdown. Looking back, a better pick may have been Thomas Hunter or Dustin Fry.
Top Freshmen: RB C.J. Spiller, WR Jacoby Ford, CB Crezdon Butler, DE Jamie Cumbie
WHAT WE SAID THEN: Any Clemson fan with a pulse could predict Spiller and Ford to see the field, but don't be surprised if Crezdon Butler and Jamie Cumbie also see significant playing time this year. The Tigers need help at cornerback and if Butler has a good fall camp, he could easily avoid a redshirt season. Cumbie reported to Clemson earlier this summer already at 260 pounds and given the Tigers lack of quality depth at defensive end, either he or Ricky Sapp will have to play to this season.
WHAT WE SAY NOW: We knew Spiller and Ford would have an impact, but combining for almost 2,300 all-purpose yards and 16 touchdowns was more than we would have anticipated. Butler proved to be a valuable special teams player and backup corner who seems to have a very bright future and Cumbie is just now coming into his own on the defensive line. The obvious omission here is Sapp, who we figured would be limited with potential All-American Gaines Adams ahead of him on the depth chart.
Total Wins: 10
WHAT WE SAID THEN: For the first time in the history of this publication, CUTigers The Magazine is going on the record with the prediction that the Tigers will win 10 regular season games. With nearly every offensive lineman that saw significant action last year returning this year (nine out of the top 10 are back), not to mention ACC Rookie of the Year RB James Davis, one of the ACC's top returning receivers in Chansi Stuckey, one of the top defensive ends in the country in Gaines Adams and one of the top linebackers in the league in Anthony Waters, how could you not like the Tigers' chances? Clemson's only two losses in 2006 will come at the hands of Florida State and Virginia Tech. And yes, this will be the season the Tigers take care of business against all the teams they are expected to beat … even Wake Forest.
WHAT WE SAY NOW: How did this team not win 10 games again? The loss of Waters hurt, but halfway through the year and certainly after a 24-point dismantling of Georgia Tech, the Tigers appeared to be one of the best teams not only in the ACC, but arguably the country. However things quickly changed following a 24-7 loss at Virginia Tech. The season then took a nasty turn following an ugly one-point home loss to Maryland, which ultimately cost the Tigers a chance to play in the ACC Championship game. No one needs reminding of what happened against South Carolina and the bowl game against Kentucky. While some fans are tired of hearing it, the Tigers were a few special teams blunders away from being 10-2 in the regular season as opposed to 8-4. Still, we missed it by two games and the Maryland loss was one we didn't see coming.
Most Important Game: Georgia Tech
WHAT WE SAID THEN: In each of the last two seasons, Georgia Tech has sent Clemson packing with a painful loss. In 2004, it was a home upset to the Yellow Jackets that began an eventual four-game skid. Last year (2005), it was a 10-9 setback in Atlanta that wound up costing the Tigers' the ACC's Atlantic Division championship. This year, with Georgia Tech returning to Death Valley this on Oct. 21, the Tigers can ill-afford another loss if hopes of an ACC title are to be realized.
WHAT WE SAY NOW: This is a tough one because this game was very important. In fact, it may have been the most impressive performance by Clemson on national television in years. But most important game of the year? Probably not. Judging how the season played itself out, the Thursday night game at Virginia Tech, just five days after Clemson's 31-7 trouncing of the Yellow Jackets proved to be the most important. For whatever reason, it seemed as though the emotional gas tank of the team was left on empty headed to Blacksburg and the season was never the same afterwards.
Biggest Upset: Boston College
WHAT WE SAID THEN: While some may not deem a road win over Boston College an "upset," Clemson will be a slight underdog headed into this game in the second week of the season. The Eagles grinded out a three-point overtime win in Death Valley last season, but can they do it again this year at home? The Tigers must improve their efforts in the red zone this season to beat Boston College. A healthy James Davis should make the difference here.
WHAT WE SAY NOW: The Tigers appeared to have this game under control on three separate occasions but an overturned Mike Hamlin interception late in the fourth quarter, not to mention a blocked extra point in the third overtime prevented the win. Clemson fans would soon forget the loss after the Tigers beat Florida State in Tallahassee for the first time in 17 years the following week. With Clemson officially going into that game as a seven-point underdog, the 27-20 win over FSU goes down as the biggest "upset" of the 2006 season.
Highest Draft Pick: Gaines Adams
WHAT WE SAID THEN: As if it would be anybody else? Heading into the 2006 season, Adams is on nearly every watch list imaginable for awards given to defensive players.
WHAT WE SAY NOW: This one wasn't hard to project. Congratulations to Gaines Adams for going No. 4 overall in this year's draft.
Predicted Final Scores
Clemson 38 Florida Atlantic 10
Clemson 23 Boston College 17
Florida State 28 Clemson 24
Clemson 17 North Carolina 9
Clemson 42 Louisiana Tech 17
Clemson 31 Wake Forest 21
Clemson 49 Temple 10
Clemson 19 Georgia Tech 17
Virginia Tech 27 Clemson 21
Clemson 21 Maryland 20
Clemson 31 N.C. State 17
Clemson 27 South Carolina 19
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