Spring lookahead: Clemson Tigers

2012 record: 11-2 overall, 7-1 ACC
Practice opens: March 6
Spring game date: April 13

2012 in review: The

Tigers took another step toward becoming a nationally relevant program

by knocking off LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and winning 11 games for the

first time since capturing the national title in 1981.

One

reality facing Dabo Swinney’s program is that it must be more physical,

which we saw in the bowl game. The losses to Florida State and South

Carolina were because Clemson wasn’t physical enough, especially on

defense.

There were little concerns on the offensive side, where

quarterback Tajh Boys and Co. set many school records and often scored

at will.

Biggest hole to fill: Andre Ellington ran for 1,081 yards last season and gave Clemson excellent balance to its high-octane, no-huddle offense.

In

order for the Tigers to again set records in the fall and contend for a

national title, they must get similar production at tailback.

Roderick

McDowell, who carried the ball 83 times for 450 yards and five

touchdowns last season, should get the early nod over Zac Brooks, who

ran 26 times for 125 yards. 

Watch out for: Defensive end

Corey Crawford started every game for the Tigers last fall, and he was

in on 47 tackles. But he had just six tackles for a loss of yardage and

registered only one sack.

With Mallicah Goodman gone, Crawford, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound junior, needs to step up and become a dominant pass rusher.