Despite losses and inconsistencies amongst other programs in the mix, Paul Finebaum quickly chose Clemson as his pick to take a step back in 2021 on ESPN's Get Up! Wednesday morning.
ESPN colleague and fellow college football analyst Heather Dinich agreed with Finebaum for different reasons, and Finebaum's doubt starts with game one for the Tigers on September 4th against Georgia.
“I would take Clemson out for this reason," Finebaum said. "They meet the team that I think can get in, in the first game of the season. You have Georgia and Clemson in Charlotte, and if Georgia wins this game, and right now I think they’re going to, they vault to number one in the country, perhaps.
"Yes, they still have to deal with Alabama later in the year in the SEC Championship Game, but that would probably be about it. I think they’ll get by Florida and everybody else on their schedule. So, we could see a changing of the guard by the end of the first weekend of the regular season.”
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The early lines between Clemson and Georgia have been close for a reason. Clemson matches up well in areas on both sides of the football, and while the offensive line may be a struggle for quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, the sophomore quarterback has numerous weapons ranging from a potential Justyn Ross appearance to a Dabo Swinney-guaranteed breakout Ajou Ajou.
Swinney will also field Frank Ladson Jr., E.J. Williams, Joseph Ngata, and more against a retooled Georgia secondary. Dinich believes otherwise and thinks the Tigers' receiver depth combined with offensive line unfamiliarity could be head coach Dabo Swinney's demise in his first matchup against Kirby Smart.
“One is because I’m not convinced that their offensive line is going to be as good this year,” Dinich said. “They’ve got questions at wide receiver even if Justyn Ross is cleared to come back, and who is behind their new quarterback in D.J. Uiagalelei? I don’t think Dabo Swinney even knows that. So god forbid he gets hurt. That is a huge question mark at quarterback in terms of depth at that position."
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