The Clemson Tigers had the top defense in a country a year ago but after losing a ton of talent this offseason, will they be able to retain their title of the country’s top defense?
Clemson’s defense this past offseason lost a ton of talent but don’t even think for a second that it will slow down the 2019 Tigers’ defense. While the Tigers will have a hard time producing the same or better numbers as they did a season ago. That being said, they’ll still be among the top-15 if not top-10 or top-5 defenses in the country in 2019.
Last season, as a defense, the Tigers allowed just 13.1 points per game, which ranked first in the country. The Tigers also were among the top-ranked defenses in passing yards allowed (189.6 ypg), rushing yards allowed (101.9 ypg), and total yards allowed (291.5 ypg). Just tremendous stats across the board that will be hard to replicate.
More from Yellow Jacked Up
- Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball: Yellow Jackets find out opponent for Big Ten-ACC Challenge
- Georgia Tech Football: What the new ACC scheduling format means for the Yellow Jackets
- Georgia Tech gets six new commits to 2023 class after official visits
- Georgia Tech hosts a plethora of 2023 recruits this weekend
- Dontae Smith slated for big season in 2022
The place where the Tigers may see a drop-off in 2019 is on their defensive line. The Tigers last year had one of the most talented defensive lines ever assembled and saw four of their defensive lineman drafted in this year’s past NFL Draft including three within the first 20 draft picks. The Tigers do have a ton of talent on the defensive line entering 2019 but the experience that they’ve had each of the last two years is certainly lacking.
Despite the lack of experience, the Yellow Jackets offensive line is going to have a tough time and Brent Key will have a tough coaching job on Thursday night. Notable defensive lineman to watch on Clemson’s defensive line this season will be sophomore defensive end Xavier Thomas, junior defensive end Justin Foster, grad senior Nyles Pinckney, and redshirt sophomore Jordan Williams.
In his press conference this week, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney told media that he expects to play a lot of guys and to rotate guys in and out throughout the game on Thursday night.
At linebacker, the Tigers are as deep as almost anyone in the country. The leader at linebacker in 2019 will be junior Isaiah Simmons, who should be one of the countries top defenses in 2019. Other names to know on the linebackers include James Skalski, Baylon Spector, and Mike Jones Jr. Jones Jr. is one to especially watch out for as a breakout player for the Tigers this season. Overall, it’s another group on Clemons’s defense that doesn’t have a ton of experience but the talent is through the roof. Not to mention, the Tigers have one of the best in linebackers Brent Venables.
The secondary last year for Clemson was expected to be their “weaknesses”, obviously, weakness in this context is not how most would think what a weakness is for most programs. That being said, in 2019, the Clemson secondary will be a huge strength for the Tigers. The secondary returns the most talent of any Clemson defensive group in 2019. The leader of the group will be cornerback AJ Terrell but don’t be surprised if Isaiah Simmons drops back to safety from linebacker at times throughout the game or season. Names to know include safeties K’Von Wallace and Tanner Muse as our friends at Rubbing the Rock point out.
Overall, Clemson’s defense entering 2019 is not nearly as experienced as last year’s national championship winning defense was. That being said, from a pure talent level, they may be as talented if not more talented. Early on, it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Tigers take at least a small step back but they’ll still be amongst the best in the country by far. By the end of September, they should be where Clemson fans expect and will be a force to be reckoned with.
The Jackets and Tigers are scheduled currently for an 8:00 pm kickoff tomorrow night from Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina or better known as “Death Valley”.