The Clemson Tigers faced a ton of turnover already on their high-powered offense this offseason, losing their leading passer, two leading receivers, and top two rushers from 2013. But there was plenty of optimism for this offense as the roster sports plenty of young talent ready to step into the spotlight in 2014. That wealth of talent will also help Clemson deal with the loss of their leading returning rusher, Zac Brooks, after the junior’s season-ending foot injury this week.
Clemson has put together a strong line of backs in recent years and Brooks appeared ready to step in to be the next one. He finished third on the team in 2013 with 246 yards and two touchdowns on 48 carries behind 1,000-yard back Roderick McDowell. With McDowell graduated, Brooks appeared set to take on a much larger role in the offense. His 5.13 yards per carry average showed a nice explosiveness that the Tigers have come to rely on in the running game.
But even without Brooks in the lineup, Clemson should have enough talent to keep the offense rolling in 2014. Senior D.J. Howard came out of the spring atop the depth chart after rushing for 213 yards and two touchdowns last season. Joining him this season will be junior C.J. Davidson who made a splash in 2013 with 155 yards and four touchdowns on 34 carries. Redshirt freshman Wayne Gallman has also looked impressive this fall and the team is expecting Tyshon Dye to return at some point this season from a torn Achilles tendon.
While having a talent like Brooks available would have been nice for the Clemson offense, his absence is by no means a lethal blow to their effectiveness in 2014. There are enough talented backs on the roster for Dabo Swinney that the Tigers can withstand an injury like this. Their depth at running back is going to serve them very well and will get them over the injury to Zac Brooks this fall.