Clemson will need to replace play-makers C.J. Spiller(ran for 1,271 yards) and Jacoby Ford(56 catches for 779 yards). That would be plenty, but they are also dealing with the very real possibility that projected starting Quarterback Kyle Parker will pursue a baseball career. Parker leaving may be the nail in the coffin for the offense.
The strength of the offense will be the line, all five projected starters have experience and there is solid depth behind. They should open plenty of holes for RBs Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper. Ellington is going to be the big play back, he averaged 7.2 yards per carry as a freshmen. The 6'0, 230 pound Harper, another Florida player, should bang on defenses.
Clemson will be very unproven at the Wide Receiver position. Freshmen Martavis Bryant and Bryce McNeal(redshirt) will be expected to complement Xavier Dye(sr). If Parker returns, these guys have enough talent to be a threat late in the year. If Parker does not, they will have to learn with a QB that is learning himself; this typically is a recipe for a lot of mistakes in the passing game.
Highly touted redshirt freshmen Tahj Boyd is waiting in the wings and he has had a year to adjust.
Overall the offense should be down a notch in production across the board.
The Tiger defense should be better than in 2009. An experienced defensive line is headlined by Da'Quan Bowers who should be ready to take the next step as a true junior with a ton of experience under his belt. A pair of 300+ DTs will await offenses in Brandon Thompson and Jarvis Jenkins. Kourtnei Brown returns from a redshirt year and adds further depth on the line.
Clemson will be young at Linebacker with a pair of youngsters projected to start. True freshmen Justin Parker and sophomore Corico Hawkins lack experience, but Parker has some special athleticism and Hawkins was solid in limited time last year. Junior Brandon Maye is the anchor.
A pair of Florida Safeties lead the secondary. Senior DeAndre McDaniel will be vying for All ACC honors and sophomore Rashard Hall had six interceptions as a freshmen. Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell are a pair of senior CBs. This should be one of the top secondaries in the ACC if not the country.
It is easy to look at this game and think that it will be a big game in November. Obviously we hope to do our part to make that happen, but a closer look at Clemson's schedule shows: after two glorified scrimmages with North Texas and Presbyterian, Clemson plays at Auburn, Miami, at North Carolina. After a home game with Maryland, Georgia Tech comes to town. The Canes, Heels, and Jackets are three of the best teams in the other half of the ACC. Bottom line, they have a tough schedule and will be fortunate to be better than 5-3 in conference play.
If Parker returns, everything changes and this team certainly has enough to get back to the ACC title game; right now that seems unlikely however. Spiller and Ford impacted special teams as well which will be another loss in production that they will need to replace.
They are going to have a stiff defense, but it is going to need to be special if the offensive production declines. The Linebackers are too young probably for that to happen.
FSU should be favored in this game.