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Writer Accountability: Looking Back at Pre-Season Predictions

Oftentimes you read pre-season predictions. Rarely to you see the writers go back and share how well - or horribly wrong - those predictions were. We hold ourselves accountable here.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In our multi-part Clemson football season preview published just before the Georgia game, we collected opinions from five of our writers and four from writers of our opponent's blogs. In total, we got nine SB Nation bloggers together and asked them to give us the likelihood that Clemson will beat each of their opponent. The result is the table below with the predicted records ranging from 7.9 to 9.9 regular season wins.










at UGA 33% 51% 35% 35% 65% 30% 30% 35% 45% 40%
SC State 100% 99% 100% 99% 100% 100% 99% 100% 98% 99%
at FSU 20% 25% 15% 15% 40% 10% 15% 10% 20% 19%
UNC 74% 70% 80% 70% 88% 70% 70% 75% 65% 74%
NCSU 90% 90% 85% 85% 80% 80% 85% 80% 80% 84%
Louisville 74% 65% 65% 70% 65% 60% 75% 65% 75% 68%
at BC 90% 85% 90% 85% 97% 70% 90% 90% 85% 87%
Syracuse 90% 95% 95% 90% 99% 80% 90% 90% 85% 90%
at WFU 95% 90% 98% 90% 99% 90% 95% 90% 90% 93%
at GT 85% 75% 70% 70% 91% 60% 90% 65% 80% 76%
Georgia St. 99% 99% 98% 99% 100% 100% 99% 98% 97% 99%
S. Carolina 50% 50% 60% 55% 63% 40% 40% 35% 40% 48%
Derived Record 9.0-3.0 8.9-3.1 8.9-3.1 8.6-3.4 9.9-2.1 7.9-4.1 8.8-3.2 8.3-3.7 8.6-3.4 8.7-3.3

We sit at eight wins and three losses heading into the Palmetto Bowl. Seven of the nine participating writers projected between 8.0 and 9.0 wins. The average projected means fell in at 8.7, so if you think we have a better than 50-50 chance to win the State Championship, those numbers are spot on. It's almost amazing how regardless of how perfect our expectations, we're still underwhelmed by the season so far. I suppose we expected to be underwhelmed. Surely, this could change, if not intellectually then emotionally, with a Palmetto Bowl win.

But now it's you're turn to be held accountable! We also asked you, our readers, how many wins Clemson would get and you were a bit more optimistic than us. 53% said Clemson would get 10 or more wins. Only 13% said we'd win fewer than nine games. So tell us, was there one primary thing that went wrong that you didn't see coming? Was it simply the aggregate effect of assuming all the likely wins were 100% rather than loseable as we broke down above? Let us know in the comments below.

Season Preview Poll

The Majority of our readers thought Clemson would finish 10-2 or better.

Finally, we published a list of players that we believed to be X-factors. Let's take a look back and see if we identified key players, and if so, how they've done.

Joe Gore: Gore has been a bit of an enigma. We heard nothing but rave reviews in Fall Camp, but come game one, he did not live up to the billing. He continued to struggle throughout the early season until he was hit with an appendectomy. Dabo sounded almost relieved when hearing about the illness as an explanation for his regression. Gore has not gotten back to his Fall camp form and as a result, Kalon Davis has had to shift to RT. The shuffling has hurt the running game. Joe Gore has certainly been an X-factor for Clemson, and unfortunately one that didn't break our way, largely due to injury.

Cordrea Tankersley: Tank is an interest one to look back on. He was originally listed opposite Mackenzie Alexander as a starting CB, but hasn't been heavily relied on due to the emergence of senior Garry Peters. Peters was a bit slow developing, coming onto the scene as a junior, and now making tremendous strides and becoming the Tigers' best CB as a senior (some will disagree and say Mac Alexander, but I'll stick with Peters). Cordrea Tankersley has not been a major X-factor due to the drastic improvement and major contributions of Garry Peters.

Eric Mac Lain: Mac Lain has filled in at times in the guard spots, but hasn't seen a ton of playing time overall. We were hopeful he and Crowder would get a lot of snaps at guard, but we've actually seen more of Reid Webster who has been very good in stretches (and not so good in others). Following, David Beasley's injury against Georgia Tech, it looked like Eric Mac Lain would be relied upon for the GA State and possibly South Carolina, but Beasley is making a quick recovery. Regardless, we won't want to continue leaning on Beasley for 100% of the snaps in key games. Eric Mac Lain has been a X-factor, and it would be great if he could give Beasley a rest and perform admirably in limited time.

Jordan Leggett: Through 11 games, tight end Jordan Leggett has just 12 receptions and 148 yards. He injured his knee against Boston College, but returned against Wake Forest. He has been part of the underwhelming TE corps coached by Danny Pearman. The X-factor call was spot on and the position group as a whole has fallen off since the days of Michael Palmer, Dwayne Allen, and Brandon Ford.

Tony Steward: Here's where the story begins to get positive. Aside from a hamstring injury that sidelined him against Louisville, he has been healthy and started each game at OLB. Steward has been part of a dominant Tiger defense and has made up for lost time. Ben Boulware has emerged as a great depth player behind him, so the X-factor highlight was only partially merited, but regardless Steward has been a key cog in Clemson's defensive success.

Jayron Kease: Kearse is developing into a star at free safety. It seems like there was a long stretch where nobody in our secondary could tackle, but Jayron can. He has made better decisions this year and played a huge role helping Clemson's defense become maybe the best in the country. He been a very positive X-factor.

Mackenzie Alexander: We can debate if Alexander is our best CB or our second best CB, but the bottom line is he has panned out and been a boon to the defense.