Clemson Football: What Clemson Has To Look Forward to Next Year, Part I

Colby LanhamCorrespondent INovember 17, 2010

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Head coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The 2010 season has not been the best of seasons; rather, it has been one full of frustrations and questions that aren't getting answered, specifically on the offensive side of the ball at the quarterback position and the identity of the offense.

Even though there are only two games remaining, there is little hope for Clemson sitting at 5-5, as they have to play on the road against Wake Forest, only to host SEC East Champions South Carolina, who are bound to be cocky in Death Valley.

At this point, Clemson is playing for pride more than anything else; it's possible they may not even be bowl eligible by the end of the season.

As a result, the Clemson Tigers must play through and head into the offseason, and answer critical questions and fix what needs to be done, and thoroughly evaluate their current status. However, Clemson still has great opportunities to look forward to next year in 2011.

First comes the defense. They lose several key secondary players in Deandre McDaniel, Marcus Gilchrist and Byron Maxwell. In the front seven, they lose Jarvis Jenkins, but they return everybody else.

In the secondary, McDaniel will be sorely missed, but consistency still remains there. Jonathan Meeks has seen improvement over his first two years and is likely to step in as McDaniel's successor. Meanwhile, at cornerback, Xavier Brewer has been the most improved at the position this year and is a rising star as a starting cornerback.

Coty Sensabaugh is likely to man the other side, but a plethora of young defensive backs will behind him and Brewer, including true sophomores Darius Robinson and Martin Jenkins, with several others coming behind after serving red shirt years and through recruiting classes.

Next comes the front seven. Clemson returns all of its linebackers who have seen improvement throughout the season, though have at times struggled against the run, especially running quarterbacks. On the defensive line, Clemson loses defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins, who has manned the inside for nigh on three years, and has done well both stuffing the run and rushing the passer. They also lose key reserve Miguel Chavis as well.

Returning shall be senior Brandon Thompson and Andre Branch, as well as possibly Daquan Bowers, though his status on returning for a senior season remains uncertain. Key returning contributors will include defensive end Courtnei Brown and Mallicah Goodman, who will both see the field frequently. Also coming behind the main starters and second-teamers will be young, relative unknown defensive linemen from the 2010 class and possibly some of the 2011 class.

The future looks better on defense, as always. How about the offense and special teams? We shall  soon see in the following weeks, as well as the beginning of the offseason.