Along with replacing Lache Seastrunk, who ran for 1,177 yards with 11 touchdowns in 2013, the Bears lose receiver Tevin Reese and All-American guard Cyril Richardson. But Briles and his staff have stockpiled speedy skill players like cordwood, including perhaps the country's best incoming class of freshman receivers.
"I have weapons -- that's not the problem," Petty said.
He's right; the Bears return four players who finished with at least 30 receptions in 2013.
"I don't think a national championship is out of the question," Petty said. "Why not? It's why I came back."
CLEMSON, S.C. -- Dabo Swinney said it a year ago, and nobody really believed him. So Swinney said it again this spring. And this time, it's hard to disagree with him.
"They all looked at me like I was crazy last year because we had Tajh [Boyd] coming back and Sammy [Watkins] coming back, but I stood there at my press conference and my exact words were that I would be disappointed when the season was over if the strength of our team wasn't our front seven," Swinney said.
The Tigers return one of the deepest, most experienced defensive lines in college football and given the departure on offense of such proven playmakers as Boyd and Watkins, they'll need that unit to be their heart and soul in 2014.
"Nobody knew Vic Beasley then," Swinney said. "Nobody knew Grady Jarrett, and nobody knew Corey Crawford. Nobody even knew their names. I had somebody come in here and do a radio show and asked him if he could give me one name of our defensive linemen. He couldn't name one name, not one of them, and, boy, I used that with those guys. Now, everybody knows those guys."
Clemson returns six seniors up front defensively, including Beasley, one of the top pass-rushers in the country, who had a monster season a year ago with 23 tackles for loss, including 13 sacks.
"We have all the intangibles to be a championship defense and have been working like that all offseason," Beasley said.
The Tigers led the country in tackles for loss last season with a school-record 122 and were second in the nation in three-and-outs per game with an average of 6.1.
Jarrett, who had 11 tackles for loss from his tackle position last season, says the defense still has a chip on its shoulder and believes this unit can match the standard of the great Clemson defenses from the 1980s.
"Everybody was looking at Clemson as being an offensive team," Jarrett said. "We're not trying to compare ourselves to anybody, but those Clemson defenses paved the way to how Clemson defense should be played. That's where we want to get back to."
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State has the best player in the country in quarterback Jameis Winston, who has managed to stay out of trouble for this entire month.
The Seminoles have one of the best tight ends in the nation in Nick O'Leary, a Mackey Award finalist who hasn't gotten in a motorcycle accident in nearly seven weeks.
Florida State has one of most physically talented defensive linemen in the country in Mario Edwards Jr., who waited until the end of his sophomore season to begin to fulfill the potential that made him ESPN's top recruit in 2012.