The Clemson Tigers have averaged 37.5 points per game in their last two College Football Playoff matchups with Alabama, and they feel they’re clicking with the kind of stride to match and exceed that.
Following three straight offensive onslaughts against Citadel, South Carolina and Miami, the Tigers rescued themselves from the swoon that carried them through much of October and early November.
Kelly Bryant has found his rhythm again, after completing 15 straight passes to start the ACC Championship Game in a performance that earned him the game’s Most Valuable Player Award.
In an up-and-down year, Bryant completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,678 yards and scored 24 total touchdowns between his passing and rushing.
Bryant believes this year has represented tremendous growth for him.
Bryant’s two favorite targets this year are Hunter Renfrow and Deon Cain, who have combined to catch more than 100 balls between the two of them.
Cain’s 61-yard touchdown pass against Kent State sparked the beginning of their chemistry clicking, while Renfrow has had his best three-game stretch to conclude the season with 12 catches for 146 yards and three touchdowns.
Both players have been helpful to Bryant’s comfort adjusting to the starting role.
The running game has been a strength for the Tigers all season, with Bryant being a big part of that. Clemson’s stable at running backs has shared the load well, gaining 205 yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry.
While CJ Fuller was the starter coming out of camp, Travis Etienne and Tavien Feaster have split the running back attempts equally with 103 attempts each. Feaster has been the grinder, yet Etienne has been the home-run hitter, with 744 yards and 13 touchdowns, breaking CJ Spiller’s freshman record.
Feaster is a homegrown talent from Spartanburg, but Etienne will be playing close to home in the Tigers next game in New Orleans, only 2 and 1/2 hours away from where he grew up in Jennings, Louisiana.
Both players shared how they have come to share the running load.
The offensive line is a big part of Bryant’s past and present, but some will not stick around for the future beyond this year. Left guard Taylor Hearn announced Wednesday he will forego his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. Hearn was a third-team All-ACC selection this year on the offensive line, and earned his diploma on Thursday.
Hearn spoke about his decision with us:
Clemson could have a largely new cast at offensive line next year with the departures of graduates Tyrone Crowder, Maverick Morris and Justin Falcinelli along with Hearn. Starting left tackle Mitch Hyatt is the only draft-eligible player on the line who has not announced his plans for next year.
The Tigers leave for New Orleans on December 27th for their Sugar Bowl matchup with Alabama on January 1st.