Clemson will start the season ranked outside the top 4: That's right Tiger fans, get the keys to the ROY bus ready because you will be ranked outside the top four when the initial rankings come out.
Fully expect Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma (or some other SEC team) to occupy the top four spots in some order. But there is little need to worry, as the Tigers will get their shot at the puppies from Athens in Week 1.
The loss of Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne play a role in the preseason, who-gives-a-damn rankings. But just as happened in 2017–when the Tigers opened the season ranked fifth after winning the national title—the Tigers will quickly find their way back to the top of the heap.
UNC will be the Tiger's biggest threat to a seventh straight ACC title: The Tar Heels will again be in the ACC Championship and will be the biggest threat to the Tiger's historical streak of conference titles.
Sam Howell returns as, arguably, the best quarterback in the league and fresh off their biggest bowl appearance in program history, the Tar Heels will be ready to challenge the Tigers for ACC supremacy.
Wide receivers will take a step forward: The Clemson receiving corps will be better in 2021 than they have ever been.
A healthy Justyn Ross, Frank Ladson and Joseph Ngata will play a role, but so will phenom E.J. Williams, Ajou Ajou, not-to-mention the addition of Beau Collins, Decari Collins and Troy Stellato—all of whom are four-star signees—mean that the Tigers wide receiving corp could be the best ever.
The running game will take a step back: The play of the offensive line was good at best and bad at it's worst at times during the 2020 season. And with the most decorated running back in ACC history running the ball, the Tigers struggled to find any rhythm or consistency in 2020.
With Travis Etienne heading to the NFL, one has to wonder: how much better can the running game improve? The answer is, not a lot, if at all. The issue is, Dabo Swinney said over and over again how good the offensive line played—especially the first-team—and if they couldn't manage to open holes for the greatest running back in school history, what makes you think they will be better without him.
Sure, the running back room will be loaded with a bevy of talented backs, but you cannot convince me that the running game will be better sans Etienne than it would be with him.
The secondary will be better (they can't be much worse): There were a few bright spots for the secondary in 2020, namely the play of Andrew Booth Jr., but there were far more disappointments.
Clemson ranked 41st nationally in passing yards, ranked 90th in pass plays over 20 yards allowed, 113th in pass plays 30-plus yards allowed, 120th in pass plays 40-plus yards allowed and 100th in pass plays 50-plus yards allowed.