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Clemson spring wrap

4/21/2011

2010 overall record: 6-7

2010 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 8, defense: 5, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

WR DeAndre Hopkins, RT Landon Walker, DE Andre Branch, DT Brandon Thompson, P Dawson Zimmerman, RB Andre Ellington, WR Jaron Brown, C Dalton Freeman, OG Antoine McClain, TE Dwayne Allen, MLB Corico Hawkins, S Rashard Hall

Key losses

DE Da’Quan Bowers, DT Jarvis Jenkins, FS DeAndre McDaniel, CB Marcus Gilchrist, RB Jamie Harper, QB Kyle Parker, LT Chris Hairston

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Harper (760 yards)

Passing: Kyle Parker (2,213 yds)

Receiving: Hopkins* (637 yds)

Tackles: McDaniel (84)

Sacks: Bowers (15.5)

Interceptions: McDaniel (4)

Spring answers

1. Cole Stoudt is the backup quarterback. Until true freshmen Stoudt and Tony McNeal enrolled in January and arrived on campus, Tajh Boyd was the only scholarship quarterback on the roster. With Boyd the undisputed starter, the main competition was for his backup. Stoudt won the job over McNeal, who also played well and is a good runner, but Stoudt had the stronger arm.

2. Phillip Price will replace Chris Hairston at left tackle. The Tigers have four starters returning on the offensive line but big shoes to fill at left tackle, where Hairston was a three-year starter. Price, who joined the team as a walk-on tight end and moved to offensive line last year, beat Brandon Thomas for the job.

3. Players bought into the system. First-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris brought an up-tempo offense from Tulsa that is similar to what Auburn runs, and the players not only embraced it, they had fun with it this spring. Whether or not they can execute it on Saturdays? See below …

Fall questions

1. Execution of the offense. With a brand new scheme, a first-year starting quarterback and new offensive coordinator, the entire offense is a question mark heading into the fall. The Tigers also lost their leading rusher in Jamie Harper, who decided to leave early for a shot at the NFL. Can the Tigers get it together quickly enough to be a contender in the Atlantic Division again?

2. Will there be enough pressure on quarterbacks? With the departure of Bowers and his 15.5 sacks -- not to mention and 21 quarterback pressures -- the Tigers will have a lot of ground to make up. Bowers was a big reason Clemson was in top 20 in the nation in both scoring defense and total defense last year. With him gone, who’s going to step up and get after the quarterbacks? Malliciah Goodman and Andre Branch are expected to.

3. Will the Tigers find consistency in the kicking game? Clemson lost five games by a touchdown or less last year, including the overtime loss to Auburn, which slipped away with a missed field goal in overtime. Will Chandler Catanzaro pick up where he left off at the end of last season and show some consistency? He made six of his final seven field goals last year, but he also started slow this spring before finishing strong.