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    PHOTO COURTESY OF ZACH LENTZ - Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence talks to the media during the College Football Playoffs last season.

ZACH LENTZ ON CLEMSON FOOTBALL - Five reasons the Tigers will return to CFB playoffs

The Clemson Tigers are coming off the greatest football season in college football history.

They captured their 2nd national title in the last 3 seasons and became the first major college program to finish their season 15-0.

However, just as quickly as the fans were celebrating the 2018 team’s accomplishments, they also began looking ahead to the 2tHAT;S019 season.

That's exactly what we will do today, as we look at the 5 reasons the Tigers will find themselves back in the College Football Playoff for a 5th straight season.

1, The schedule. With it came the excitement of another trip to the CFP, as the Tigers will be favored by double-digits in every one of their games.

The biggest tests of the season are all at home. A Week 2 contest against Texas A&M and an Oct. 12 meeting with Florida State. For the second straight season, the Tigers avoid back-to-back road games and playing away from Death Valley on Thursday and Friday nights.

2. The return of the offense. Returning is nearly every one on an offense that was as prolific as the Tigers have had in recent years.

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the Heisman Trophy front-runner, returns to lead an offense that boasts another Heisman hopeful in running back Travis Etienne; wide receivers Tee Higgins, Amari Rodgers, Justyn Ross, Derion Kendrick and five-star signees Joe Ngata and Frank Ladson.

3. The secondary. While much of the focus this offseason has been on the losses on the defensive line, the Tigers secondary lost only 1 starter (Trayvon Mullen).

The Tigers return 3 starters - cornerback A.J. Terrell, safeties K’Von Wallace and Tanner Muse, while inserting Derion Kendrick into the spot vacated by Mullen and Mario Goodrich as his backup.

Also battling for the vacated spot will be former 4-star recruit LeAnthony Williams—making the secondary a major strength for the Tigers and no longer a weakness.

4. The Tigers are comfortable. The idea of being comfortable may be a negative thing, as many people think that word is synonymous with complacent. Not for the Tigers.

The idea of being comfortable comes from the fact that they are used to being the hunted. They are used to getting every team’s best shot and coming through unscathed. There is something to the psychological advantage of stepping onto the football field and knowing that you are going to perform at a high level—and that is exactly what they have done.

5. Swinney will find a way. While the Tigers will be heavy favorites in every one of their games and will have the advantage of being comfortable with their position, they will have something that no one can put a price on — head coach Dabo Swinney.

Swinney is a master at finding the right button to push to make his team, as absurd as it may seem, the underdog.

Last season, the Tigers found themselves on the ROY bus, a phrase Swinney used extensively during the 2018 year to show that they were not on the same level as the Alabama Crimson Tide.

“Back when I was a player we kind of had the big-time bus and then the R.O.Y. bus – the Rest of Ya’ll," Swimmy said. "It is kind of Alabama and the rest of ya’ll. 

Even after beating the Crimson Tide by 28 points (44-16), in the national championship game, Swinney was still adamant that the Tigers were behind the Crimson Tide.

Needless to say the master of motivation will find a way to make his Tigers feel like the underdogs in every game.

Zach Lentz is the owner/editor of www.ClemsonMaven.io .  and author of the book “The Journey to the Top” He is a 2017 South Carolina Press Association Sports Beat Writer of the Year.

 

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