In the first of two warm-ups before heading to The Plains to play Auburn, Clemson takes on Sun Belt Conference foe North Texas to kickoff the 2010 season. The Mean Green have won just five games in three years under Todd Dodge, including a 2-10 record in 2009.
Most of the starters from last season's defense, which gave up 12 fewer points a game than it did in 2008, are back.
JUCO transfer Brad Graham, the NJCAA Defensive Player of the Year in 2009, joins the UNT defense. He could be moved from middle linebacker to safety.
Tajh Boyd is expected to get his first work as a college quarterback against a defense that finished 97th-best in the nation in 2009. UNT finished no higher than 54th (pass defense) in any of the major statistical team categories.
Dwayne Allen's impact should be felt early and often against a porous North Texas defense. (Kevin Bray)
"Both (Ellington and Harper) have had very productive moments…Jamie was our MVP in the bowl game," said coach Dabo Swinney. "They picked up right where they left off with an excellent spring. With the combination of those two, hopefully we can replace the production of C.J."
The opener will also provide an opportunity for another wide receiver to emerge alongside tight end Dwayne Allen.
New offensive coordinator Mike Canales will continue running the spread at UNT, but will have to do so with a first-year starter at quarterback.
Earlier this month, Dodge moved his son, Riley, from quarterback to wide receiver. As a sophomore in 2009, Dodge completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 1,975 yards and nine touchdowns with 15 interceptions.
The move was made earlier this spring because of a mounting number of arm injuries. Dodge broke his right forearm in the 2009 finale against Arkansas State and also separated his shoulder on the final play of his decorated high school career.
Originally a 2008 Texas wide receiver commit, he caught nine passes for 59 yards and also rushed for 38 yards as a freshman at UNT. Oklahoma transfer Tyler Stradford also joins the receiving corps.
They'll be catching passes this fall from either senior Nathan Tune or sophomore Derek Thompson.
Tajh Boyd will see his first action as a Clemson Tiger in Clemson's 2010 season opener. (Kevin Bray)
In the final quarter of last season's finale, Thompson lost his redshirt after both Dodge and Tune went down with injuries. Thompson completed all three of his passes for 60 yards and a touchdown on his first and only drive of his freshman year.
"One of the things I want to see as we go into our off-season is the leadership of our quarterbacks to take over," Todd Dodge told the Denton Record-Chronicle. "The leadership they show over the summer will go a long way toward what we decide."
All-Sun Belt Conference running back Lance Dunbar is back after a 1,400 yard 17 touchdown season in 2009.
Clemson's superior depth, size, strength and speed up front will help control the line of scrimmage before a group of young linebackers. Thompson could be a dual threat in Canales' system, which has potential to be headache for the Tigers' defense. In the 2009 opener against Middle Tennessee, also out of the Sun Belt, Clemson showed it could be susceptible to big gains off quarterback runs.
With arguably the nation's top pair of safeties (DeAndre McDaniel, Rashard Hall), which are surrounded by several experienced corners, Kevin Steele's defense will make things difficult for either UNT quarterback.
HALE'S WAY TOO EARLY PREDICTION: Clemson 38 North Texas 10