The Yorktown was an appropriate location Wednesday for Clemson's Prowl & Growl tour stop, the annual Lowcountry chance for boosters and other fans to ask head coach Dabo Swinney about the upcoming football season.
The Isle of Palms home of Stanton Seckinger is a short drive (or kayak ride) away from the retired aircraft carrier. This is suddenly significant because, believe it or not, the rising junior tight end and junior running back C.J. Davidson are Clemson's leading returning scorers from last season.
It's a tribute to the hard work of Seckinger, originally a marginal recruit out of Porter-Gaud, and Davidson, a walk-on.
It also personifies the wide production gap, best understood in basketball terms. Clemson lost its top five scorers on a 2014 team that finished 11-2 and ranked No. 8: Kicker Chandler Catanzaro (99 points), wide receiver Sammy Watkins (72), quarterback Tajh Boyd (60), wide receiver Martavis Bryant (42) and running back Roderick McDowell (42).
Those five guys dwarf the other contributors they way an aircraft carrier sticks out among fishing boats in a harbor. The Big Five accounted for 63 percent of Clemson's 498 points (the defense also scored four touchdowns).
Seckinger and Davidson scored 24 points on four touchdowns.
Which makes for a long summer of concern or harvest time in the field of opportunity, depending on the orange tint of your sunglasses.
You probably know where Swinney stands.
"Look at last year," he said Wednesday. "Everybody was thinking there would be a drop-off at Florida State because EJ Manuel went to the NFL, and then here comes a freshman (Jameis Winston) that wins the Heisman Trophy. Auburn didn't really have a quarterback coming back, and they end up in the national championship game."
Dabo: 'No doubt'
Swinney didn't come right out and predict a Heisman Trophy and national title game appearance for Clemson. But he does think quarterback Cole Stoudt, a running back committee perhaps featuring redshirt freshman Wayne Gallman, a healthy Charone Peake at wide receiver and at least three tight ends will help fill the void left by Boyd and Co.
"We have some depth and some dynamic guys at the running back position," Swinney said. "I think our tight end position is going to be much improved with the experience of Seckinger, and (Jay Jay) McCullough coming on, and (Jordan) Leggett getting some experience last year."
"Yes, we have some new faces. But when it's all said and done, I think we'll still be one of the best scoring offenses in the country. I have no doubt about that."
But departed production divided by potential, plus the return of offensive coordinator Chad Morris, the addition of freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson in the bullpen minus any new guys with Watkins' big-play ability means Clemson has .
Oh, something like a 14.8 percent chance of approaching 500 points on offense again in 2015.
So they will rely on a theoretically improved defense.
Vic Beasley and friends
Beasley had 13 sacks last season. The defensive line had 11 sacks in the spring game.
"Hopefully that translates into some scores on defense," Swinney said.
Clemson had zero seniors on front four in 2013 but will have six in 2014.
"To know you've got six guys like that who have been playing since they were freshmen, I feel great about that," Swinney said. "We have depth and talent and experience at what's become the most critical position on the field, outside of quarterback."
That would please longtime Clemson fans familiar with two-deep talent up front. It makes for a trusty edge in close games, and travels well.
Now if the Tigers can just find enough contributors on offense to build around Stanton Seckinger, they might be OK.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff
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