"This is a National Championship team...at the doorstep of greatness." Those were the words screamed last year at the conclusion of the year. We took Coach Dabo at his word and decided last year that if the Sweatshirt thinks this program should be National Championship quality we should expect such and judge accordingly.
Don Munson--I know you are out there. Print this, Tweet this, and put it on Dabo's desk: THIS IS NOT A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM. Ten wins--including one win over a good Georgia team--is a good start but complete failures against Florida State and South Carolina make this season a disappointment given the self-imposed hype.
Florida State was much better than Clemson overall--there is no doubting that statement unless you are the head coach at Clemson who believes it is essentially a coin flip. National Championship quality teams don't turn the ball over six freaking times en route to their fifth consecutive loss to the in-state rival. Yes, I do understand that Clemson beat a good Georgia team in week one but I also know that when the dust settled, the only other two real teams we played all year outscored the Tigers by 51 points. Let me repeat that, 51 points. It would take a whole lot of Tommy Bowden logic to rationalize that kind of beating over the course of two football games. National Championship caliber football programs, if you haven't paid attention, don't lose like in that fashion.
I always read this shit about the players this the players that. I'll agree that players ultimately win games. However, players don't recruit themselves. Players don't dictate strength and conditioning regimens nor do they drive practices. During the games, they dictate in-game strategy. Six turnovers last night are indicative of poorly coached players not focused on the job at hand. If you combine the six last night with the four against Florida State you see more of a trend than an outlier.
Under the Sweatshirt's command were questionable offensive and defensive decisions by the coordinators. Clemson was driving the ball right down the field on its first possession. Picking up yardage was not an issue so what is the decision? Let's get cute and pull out the old wide receiver pass. Why disrupt early rhythm with a trick play? As Clemson has done all year, the Tigers got away from the running game at times. Hot Rod had a killer game last night and should have gotten 6-10 more carries easily. Defensively, you must point to two key items 3rd/4th down conversion and Conner Shaw running the ball. His scrambling ability, while not acceptable, is kind of understandable. The fact that Carolina was able to run the quarterback draw up and down the field in the second half with no adjustments by Clemson is infuriating. Spurrier was able to use formations to put the Clemson defenders where he wanted them to set up the draw and Clemson, as mentioned earlier, simply did not make proper adjustments. The clip below (go ahead and hit your mute button as Tommy Suggs will speak at some point in the video) is the perfect example of South Carolina moving Clemson defenders to the boundaries through formation then killing the Tigers with the quarterback draw.
I will say that Clemson did a good job against the SCar defensively in tighter formations and by taking Mike Davis out of the game. I'll also point out that when the Tigers weren't turning the ball over and/or attempting trick plays, the offense put together several good, patient drives. Clemson played well in the trenches which should have guaranteed at minimal a close game and, in most fan opinions, a prognosticated win for the Tigers. Ultimately, though, Clemson was again outcoached both in the game, mental, and fundamental preparation.
This brings me to my final point of last night's game...there are a lot of people out there who are content with this crap. Yes, we won 10 games this season--and there is a lot to say about that--but many, many of those victories were over sub-par football teams including games against two FCS teams and some bad ACC teams. Losing 2/3 games against very good opponents who were well distributed throughout the schedule is unacceptable. Still, I'd say 50% of the fanbase is happy with 8 wins and a bowl at this point (that is why--along with owning South Carolina--Tom Bowden lasted at Clemson for nearly a decade). Another 15-20% are overjoyed by winning 10 games and losing to South Carolina...The rest of us want to win a damn championship and are tired of this crap.
Yes, we are much, much better off now than when ole Tom was strolling the sidelines. However, Dabo's morph into John Cooper (though Cooper typically only lost one a year--the last one--and we lose the conference championship game in Sept/October then lose to the rival) guarantees we cannot win a MNC for obvious reasons. Until more people get pissed about laying eggs in big games nothing will change. And, NO, being Peach Bowl Champions isn't as glamorous across the land as most of you think though everyone did give deserved credit where it was due for beating LSU.
Clemson's football program needs an attitude adjustment. South Carolina made that adjustment sometime between 2008-09. Until that happens, enjoy what you got last night.
That is about all I can muster this morning without flying into an expletive-laced rage.