Scouting Syracuse football's next opponent, the Clemson Tigers publisher Trevor Groves gives a detailed scouting report of the Clemson Tigers inside.

No. 1 Clemson looks to improve to 10-0 and win 10 games or more for the fifth consecutive season. That would make Clemson just the thirteenth Power Five program in history to accomplish that feat. Clemson boasts the second-longest win streak in the nation (12) behind Ohio State. Clemson has won 36 consecutive games versus unranked teams, dating back to 2011. They will play Syracuse in the Carrier Dome Saturday for just the second time in school history. Here is an overview of the Clemson Tigers.

Scouting the Offense

Clemson runs a spread offense with heavy zone read by QB Deshaun Watson, who is a true dual-threat quarterback and ran the exact same offense in high school. They go high-tempo and attempt to run 80 plays or more per game. Former Clemson wide receivers Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott, who both played for WR Coach Dabo Swinney, are now first-year Co-Offensive Coordinators. They filled the vacancy left by offensive innovator Chad Morris, who took the head coaching job at SMU this season. Tony Elliott calls the majority of plays from the box and coaches running backs. Jeff Scott roams the sidelines and also coaches wide receivers.

Clemson’s WR corps was probably the deepest in the nation at the beginning of the season, but preseason first-team All-ACC selection Mike Williams fractured his neck in the first game, and true freshman Ray-Ray McCloud sprained the MCL in his knee against Florida State. Regardless, Clemson still has a deep and talented group of wide receivers, led by Sophomore Artavis Scott.

Projected Starters


Deshaun Watson


Wayne Gallman


Hunter Renfrow


Artavis Scott


Charone Peake


Jordan Leggett


Mitch Hyatt


Eric Mac Lain


Jay Guillermo


Maverick Morris


Joe Gore

Key Players

QB Deshaun WatsonClemson has one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Deshaun Watson. He can make any throw on the field and can also beat you running the ball. He rushed for over 100 yards against Florida State last week and also threw for 300. He is only a true sophomore but possesses the football IQ and demeanor of a fifth-year senior. In his young career, he is 13-0 in games that he has started and finished.

WR Artavis ScottSophomore Artavis Scott is Clemson’s slot receiver, who is cut of the Percy Harvin mold. They usually utilize him on sweeps and short screen passes, just to get him the ball in space. Most of his yards come after the catch. Scott will also return kicks and punts, along with redshirt freshman WR Hunter Renfrow.

WR Deon CainThe Tigers struggled to find a true threat in the vertical passing game to replace Mike Williams until true freshman Deon Cain started to emerge in the past few games. He made a couple big plays against Georgia Tech and followed that performance with two catches over 50 yards against Boston College—one of which was inches short of being his first touchdown. Cain was benched against Miami for disciplinary reasons but responded by recording long touchdown receptions in the next two games against NC State and Florida State. He played quarterback in high school, so he is still learning the position, but he is improving by the week and has enormous physical talent.

WR Charone Peake: is a fifth-year veteran who has great size and speed and is capable of making plays all over the field. He has made several big catches on intermediate routes to convert on 3rd downs, but he is also capable of catching deep balls for long touchdowns. He is also an excellent down field blocker.

RB Wayne GallmanAt running back, sophomore Wayne Gallman is a powerful runner and rarely goes down at first contact. He has rushed for over 100 yards in 6 of the last 7 games, including the last one against Florida State. The Tigers will occasionally bring in veteran backup Zac Brooks, who was a high school wide receiver. He has great hands, and Clemson likes to throw to him out of the backfield.


Honestly, it’s hard to find a weakness in this offense, but that is why they are the #1 team in the nation and rank in the top-5 in offensive efficiency. The offensive line is solid and 10-deep. Starting RG Tyrone Crowder left the Florida State game with a case of turf toe, but backup Maverick Morris came in and played well. Clemson is extremely balanced in both passing and running. In fact, Clemson passed for over 400 yards and rushed for over 400 yards in back-to-back ACC games. That had never been done by a Clemson team in the same season, let alone in back-to-back games. The only apparent weakness in this offense was the lack of a vertical passing threat when Mike Williams went down in the first game, but true freshman Deon Cain and Charone Peake have begun to fill that void and stretch the field.


When Clemson’s offense is clicking, it is one of the best in the nation and very difficult to stop. They are balanced and versatile, and they have seemed to be improving in the last few weeks, hanging 58 points on the road at Miami and 56 at NC State. They only scored 23 last week against Florida State, but Watson uncharacteristically missed a couple of wide open wide receivers for easy touchdowns in the first half. The still managed to mount 512 yards of offense on the Noles and convert 29 first downs!

Scouting the Defense

Clemson runs a 4-2-5 nickel defense and has one of the best units in the nation. They lost 11 players from last season’s #1 ranked defense to NFL camps, but there has not been much drop off this season. They are #20 in rush defense (118.9), #9 in scoring defense (17.1), #7 in pass defense (168.4) and #5 in total defense (287.3), #1 in 3rd down conversions and #1 in three-and-outs. Long-time Oklahoma DC Brent Venables is in his 4th season at Clemson and is one of the best defensive coordinators in the nation.

Projected Starters


Shaq Lawson


D.J. Reader


Carlos Watkins


Kevin Dodd

SLB (Nickel)

Travis Blanks


B.J. Goodson


Ben Boulware


Mackensie Alexander


Jayron Kearse


T.J. Green


Cordrea Tankersley

Key Players

DE Shaquille Lawson: Lawson replaced All-American Vic Beasley, who was a top-10 pick in last year’s NFL Draft. Lawson does not have the pure speed Beasley did as a pass rusher, but he is bigger and better against the run. Lawson can still get after the quarterback and is among the nation’s leaders in career tackles-for-loss.

CB Mackensie AlexanderOne of the top cover corners in the nation, Alexander has been tough to throw on all season. He has one of the top completion percentages in the nation, and quarterbacks don’t test him often.

MLB B.J. Goodson: Goodson is coming off two monster games against NC State and Florida State. He led the team in tackles for both games, and he had Clemson’s only two sacks against FSU. He had 3.5 TFL’s in that game and a big fumble recovery. He is the quarterback of Clemson’s defense.

S Jayron Kearse: Kearse is the nephew of “The Freak” Jevon Kearse, and he is just as impressive a physical specimen. He is 6’5, 200 pounds and can blow up a play in the backfield on a safety blitz or high point a ball in coverage. He has a few impressive interceptions to his credit and is a fierce competitor.

Clemson also gets great contributions from others at every level, such as true freshman DT Christian Wilkins, LB Ben Boulware, DE Kevin Dodd and CB Cordrea Tankersley.


As with the offense, it’s hard to find a weakness in Clemson’s defense. The only chink in the armor might be that they are thin at LB due to the loss of starter Korrin Wiggins and backup Korie Rogers in preseason camp, but other than that Clemson is very talented and very deep. They played their backups for much of the game at Miami and still pitched a shutout. They have been susceptible to the big play from time to time on busted coverages. It happened late in the Notre Dame game, several times at NC State and on the second play against Florida State, in which Dalvin Cook ran 75 yards for a touchdown. After that play, however, Clemson held the Noles to 6 points and 286 yards for the next 59 minutes.


It will be difficult to run or throw the ball against this Clemson defense. It is no fluke that they are among the best in the nation in just about every statistical category.

Scouting the Special Teams

Projected Starters



Greg Huegel


Ammon Lakip


Andy Teasdall


Seth Ryan


Jim Brown


Hunter Renfrow


Artavis Scott

Key Players

PK Greg Huegel: Huegel is a redshirt freshman and former walk-on who won the starting job in August camp after returning starter Ammon Lakip was suspended. Huegel impressed in camp and has been one of the big surprises this season, making 15-17 on the season and 13-13 in ACC play. Huegel has made several clutch kicks in tight games against Notre Dame, Louisville and Florida State.  

P Andy Teasdall: Teasdall has been another pleasant surprise for the Tigers this season. He replaced Bradley Pinion, who decided to forego his senior season and is now with the 49ers. Teasdall has been very reliable and averages 39.3 yards per punt.

K Ammon Lakip: Lakip lost his starting job as place kicker to Greg Huegel when he was suspended during the offseason. He has been relegated to kickoffs and has done a respectable job getting touchbacks.

KR Artavis Scott: Scott is one of the most elusive players in the ACC, but he hasn’t made a big splash in the kicking game so far this season. However, that could change at any time. He has been sharing duties with true freshman WR Ray-Ray McCloud, who sprained his MCL against Florida State and will not play this week. Scott also has been splitting time returning punts with redshirt freshman WR Hunter Renfrow.

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