Starters returning: 7
Starters returning: 6
The first big game for Clemson comes early, against Georgia in the second week of the season. Last year, after switching from a veer to an I offense, the Tigers won that matchup, 7-6, and went on to post an 8-3-1 record. Coach Charley Pell says, "Some people probably took us a little lightly, but not after that Georgia game."
Certainly, no one in Clemson, S.C. seems to be taking this team lightly after it came off a dismal 3-6-2 season in 1976 to wind up in the Gator Bowl last season. Recently big orange tiger paws were painted on all the highways leading into town.
"Let's be realistic," says Pell. "We had an excellent year. We earned the right to go to the Gator Bowl.... We are an experienced bowl team." Now a key to Clemson's prospects, says Pell, will be the offensive line. "We have made some adjustments, but there is a lack of depth." The Bostic brothers, Center Jeff and All-America Right Guard Joe, and Tackle Steve Kenney are standouts.
Quarterback Steve Fuller, the ACC Player of the Year, holds Clemson's alltime total-offense record with 3,932 yards. When Fuller goes to the air, he will often be aiming for an AII-ACC split end, Jerry Butler.
Three of the six returning defensive starters were also AII-ACC: End Jonathan Brooks, Defensive Halfback Steve Ryan and Linebacker Randy Scott, who apparently is fully recovered from knee surgery.
The Tigers again boast a barrel of speed, but this hectic pace can take its toll on Clemson as well as on opponents; the team must find a cure for the fourth-quarter blahs that made it the victim of much late-game scoring. Maryland trailed Clemson 14-7 going into the. final quarter but won 21-14. Notre Dame was trailing 17-7 and won 21-17; South Carolina picked up 20 points in the fourth quarter before Fuller connected with Butler to pull out a win with 49 seconds remaining. Still, Pell only needs to develop a little more staying power and depth in order to go to a bowl for the second straight year.