The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Across the Desk: Previewing the Clemson vs. Texas A&M game

Across the Desk is a long-running series the sports section has done a few times a year when there is a burning question (or two) that needs to be debated. This week’s edition features Clemson’s continued quarterback controversy and whether Jimbo Fisher leaving Florida State was a good or bad thing for himself, Clemson and the ACC.

Should Trevor Lawrence be the starting quarterback?

In one word: yes. In many more words: Trevor Lawrence, despite a shaky first series, displayed all of the reasons he was the number one overall recruit in the nation. He was 9-for-15 with three touchdowns and zero interceptions in just five total drives. The defense did set him up well for two of those, but two others were touchdown drives of 95 and 92 yards.

He made better throws than Kelly Bryant, which caused the Furman defense to have to keep less defensive players in the box. The running backs could breathe a little more and gave Clemson a more balanced attack. It was still just against Furman, an FCS team, but they will probably have one of the best defenses in their own league. That makes this game a better gauge of overall team strength than many other top 25 teams’ first games.

Lawrence’s throws were far from perfect. Most didn’t have the cleanest spiral, and the pass he threw to Justyn Ross for a touchdown was a blown up screen that should have been a tackle for loss. These are but a few growing pains. If given the chance to start outright, Lawrence will have shed those early season troubles and give Clemson its fourth consecutive playoff berth. — Colin

Patience is a virtue, and the Clemson coaching staff should be patient with the quarterback situation. With that being said, Trevor Lawrence does not yet deserve to be named the starting quarterback. Sure, he threw for three touchdowns in a 137-yard stint against the FCS-level Furman Paladins in his debut, but that should not be factored into the starting decision at all this early in the season.

Incumbent starter Kelly Bryant brings certain nuanced elements of the game to the table that Lawrence cannot yet bring. For one, the fact that Bryant is a senior should not be taken lightly, as his adept knowledge of the Clemson offense and his valuable experience on multiple national championship-caliber teams are both especially valuable attributes. Also, Bryant’s athleticism and poise in the pocket make him the prime candidate to lead and provide stability to Clemson’s youthful offense this season.

Between Bryant and Lawrence, the fabulous freshman is certainly the more talented of the two. However, Lawrence should be not tasked with helping lead Clemson to a national championship this early in his career. Of course, allusions between this year’s quarterback situation and the one in 2014 that featured Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson can naturally be made, but that comparison is unfair. Unlike Stoudt, Bryant boasts a collegiate quarterbacking résumé befitting of a trusted starter, and, unlike Lawrence, Bryant has a collegiate quarterbacking pedigree worthy of a player starting under center for a national championship contender. — Cole

Will Jimbo Fisher’s current team (Texas A&M) or his former team (Florida State) be better this year and how does that affect Clemson and the ACC?
I definitely think that Texas A&M will be a better team this year. It does help that Clemson set up the home-and-home series with A&M long before Fisher decided to take the head coaching job there, as it makes a potential win over the Aggies one that could be important for playoff consideration.

Fisher certainly doesn’t have the same kind of team he had in Florida State when Heisman winner Jameis Winston led the Seminole offense, but he does have a few special pieces. Starting running back Trayveon Williams ran wild against Northwestern State (also an FCS team) 20 times for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Williams has the speed to keep Clemson off-balance while simultaneously allowing his quarterback Kellen Mond more time to throw when he is a blocker.

Speaking of Mond, his debut against Northwestern State wasn’t particularly spectacular, but he was efficient. The sophomore only figures to grow in his new role, but he isn’t exactly helped by his wide receivers. The loss of Christian Kirk will weigh upon the effectiveness of the downfield passing game.

The loss of Fisher from the ACC actually weakens the conference. Miami’s loss to LSU definitely knocks them out of the top-10 and possibly the top-15. Fisher’s ‘Noles were almost always ranked within the top-25 which gave credence to the superiority of the conference as a whole when combined with Clemson and the short emergence of Louisville. The SEC seems like it will be better than the ACC this year and Fisher is a big reason for it. — Colin 

Do not expect the Texas A&M Aggies to immediately return to powerhouse status now that head coach Jimbo Fisher is on the scene. Coming off a fairly disappointing 7-6 season, the Aggies feature plenty of room for growth and several key playmakers who lack experience. With sophomore quarterback Kellen Mond taking part in his first season as a regular starter, the Aggies’ offense should not be expected to compete on the same level as a Florida State Seminoles offense with veteran quarterback Deondre Francois manning the huddles.

Despite Florida State’s struggles in their season opener against the Virginia Tech Hokies, the Seminoles should right the ship under first-year head coach Willie Taggart in the coming weeks. Helping the Seminoles’ cause is the fact that Florida State competes in the ACC, which is not expected to feature very many top-tier teams this year. As for Fisher and his Aggies, they will have to compete against a bevy of superb SEC teams.

In the long run, Fisher should rejuvenate the Aggies and make them national championship contenders, but as for this season, the Seminoles will likely outshine their former coach’s new squad. As for the Clemson Tigers, head coach Dabo Swinney will certainly experience a temporary recruiting boost by not having to regularly compete against Fisher. However, Florida State is a blue-blood program that should not experience too significant a downfall because of the departure of a head coach. The Seminoles should continue to experience greatness and serve as one of the ACC’s best and brightest teams. — Cole

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *