Getting to know Clemson with Dan Kelly of Rubbing the Rock


Before the Tar Heels and Clemson Tigers play on September 27th, we caught up with Dan Kelley of Rubbing the Rock, FanSided’s Clemson Tigers blog, to learn more about the Tigers before the season starts. Keeping It Heel’s questions are in bold and Kelley’s answers are below.


Q: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the 2014 Clemson Tigers?
A: Certainly the unquestioned strength going into the season is the defensive line. You could just say the whole front-seven looks pretty good though. Vic Beasley is the top returning pass-rusher in the country, after sacking quarterbacks 13 times last season. Grady Jarrett put up pretty incredible numbers for an interior lineman, with 83 tackles and 11 for a loss. Beasley, Jarrett, and linebacker Stephone Anthony were all named to the preseason All-ACC first-team, along with a slew of preseason award watch lists.

Clemson has a lot of question marks but I don’t know if I would go so far as to call any of them weaknesses just yet. The Tigers lost a lot of offense but Dabo Swinney has also recruited very well since he took over, so there is plenty of talent just waiting to get on the field.

If I had to pick one potential weakness though, it might be the wide receivers. That is one unit that will almost certainly have a tougher time than last year because you just don’t replace a guy like Sammy Watkins overnight. So it could just be a relative weakness.

Q: Which NFL defensive end does Vic Beasley remind you most of?
A: That’s a tough question, mainly because I don’t pay nearly as much attention to the NFL as I do to college football. But I’ve seen Beasley compared to Von Miller, and that seems to be a relatively decent comparison, from what I’ve seen. As far as the NFL goes though, the only thing I’m relatively sure of is that he will probably end up being moved to outside linebacker.

Q: How do you think Cole Stoudt does at quarterback for the Tigers this season?
A: I think Stoudt will be solid. He has always looked sharp in relief of Boyd. Last year, he completed nearly 80% of his passes (47-59) for 415 yards and four touchdowns. Of course, most of those came in garbage time, but those are still pretty eye-popping numbers.

Stoudt also seems to be firmly in command of the offense. And he should be, after several years learning Chad Morris’ system.

Nearly everything said about Stoudt during training camp has been positive. But, all that said, Deshaun Watson is going to see the field this year. Watson was the top dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2014, by 247 Sports’ metrics, and it sounds like he is simply too good to redshirt. The Tigers will probably use both quarterbacks all year.

Q: Who is one player set to have a breakout season for the Tigers?
A: The guy I’ve been predicting will have a breakout season is sophomore receiver Mike Williams. I think he could turn into one of the better receivers in the ACC this year. As a freshman, Williams had 316 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 20 catches. With Watkins and Martavus Bryant gone, Williams should step into a much more prominent role in the offense.

One of the great things about Williams is the combination of size and leaping ability. He is listed at 6’4 and showed last year that he can get up and bring down high passes. He should be an excellent target for Stoudt and Watson in the end zone.

Q: Who wins- UNC or Clemson and why?
A: North Carolina should be pretty good this year and they are my tentative favorite to win the Coastal division.

More from North Carolina Tar Heels

I say this so it won’t seem too disrespectful when I say that, right now, I view the ACC as Florida State, Clemson, then everyone else. That is the way things have played out recently, so I’m going to pick Clemson against any ACC team not wearing Seminoles jerseys, for the time being.

I might be more inclined to call the game a toss-up if it was going to be played in Chapel Hill. But the Tar Heels have to come to Death Valley this year and that is a very tough place for a visiting team to leave with a win.
I also think that the Tar Heels are a team that Clemson should be able to score on. The offense might take a step back this year, but North Carolina probably isn’t going to put a dominant defense on the field, either. If Stoudt and the rest of the offense can put up about four touchdowns, I think that will probably be good enough.

Check out Dan Kelley’s work at and thanks so much to Mr. Kelley for joining us!