No. 4 Clemson overcomes changing personnel to win once more

From FOX Sports - November 12, 2017

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP)Not this year, no way. Defending national champion Clemson had lost too much, the thinking went, on offense to post another serious threat to the title. But with the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season done, the Tigers are exactly where they want to beon top of the ACC Atlantic and poised for another deep run.

Never had a doubt about those guys, Clemson defensive end Austin Bryant said of his teammates, many of them first-year starters, on the other side of the ball.

The group is erasing doubts week after week.

Entering the season, the Tigers looked like they would need time to grow on offense with national title stars like quarterback Deshaun Watson , receivers Mike Williams and Artavis Scott, and tailback Wayne Gallman all jumping early to the NFL. In all, Clemson had seven new starters to blend into the attackleaving plenty of doubters dismissing the Tigers chances.

Nobody really picked us to win the league this year, and not many picked us to win the division, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. So Im glad my guys didnt get that memo. They just went to work. Weve had a lot of guys step up and earn it.

Particularly on offense.

Kelly Bryant was a tall, untested quarterback whose only experience the past two years was at the end of big, big blowouts. The backfield appeared a mishmosh of lumbering veterans like C.J. Fuller and Adam Choice, and youngsters filled with potential yet short on experience in Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne.

Tight end, center, slot receiverall had new faces taking over and had ACC opponents licking their chops dreaming of payback after getting run over the previous two seasons by the dynamic Tigers.

Instead, Clemson merely snapped the ball and kept going, defeating four top-25 opponents on the way to their third consecutive trip to the ACC championship game after a 31-14 victory over Florida State this past Saturday.

The Tigers look to make it three straight league crownsand trips to the College Football Playoffwhen it faces No. 2 Miami in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Dec. 2.


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