This is, without a doubt, one of my favorite days of the year. Anything that adds an extra hour of available golf time is fine by me. This also means a shift from basketball into football and baseball. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, especially for me after yesterday's debacle in Littlejohn.
That is as good a place as any to start this conversation. Clemson again found a way to lose a basketball game. This season was shaping up to be one of extreme over-achievement and has thudded with yet another tough loss. Clemson blew a significant lead then battled back only to make a ridiculous mistake late in regulation. Had the decision been made to simply throw a jump ball down the court, the Tigers would have won the game regardless of the outcome of that pass. I believe Clemson had a timeout, so anything but ideal was unacceptable. Instead, Pitt was able to make a play that appeared to barely beat the official game clock to zero. The combination of everything that went on places this one squarely on Brad Brownell's shoulders.
Clemson is not talented enough to win with just skill and needs the coach to create advantages and have his guys do everything possible to create smart play. This is the latest in a long list of winnable games that slipped away from this team. Clemson had many chances to pick up enough ACC wins to make it into the tournament but could not hold on...which is very, very frustrating. It is good to see Clemson perform much better than most thought the Tigers would going into the season but these close losses and the thought of what could have been are tough to handle.
Clemson baseball got back on track Friday after being swept last weekend then dropping a mid-week game at Western Carolina. Clemson won on a walk-off fielder's choice (I'll admit, I don't usually hear or say that) Friday then was able to crush Virginia Tech yesterday afternoon. A sweep today to open up conference play would be nice and begin to help us forget about the debacle last weekend. After today's game, Clemson hosts App State mid-week then travels to Winston-Salem next weekend for a series with Wake. Again, I am still attempting to forget the disappointment from last weekend and won't let this bias creep into normal commentary--as we know Clemson baseball locks up in big games, particularly those against South Carolina.
Clemson football is back in business with Spring ball. Coach Dabo unveiled the Orange Bowl tombstone then kicked off the 2014 campaign. I've heard several items from Clemson that include Swinney bemoaning the fact that Giff Timothy and Patrick DeStefano would not be returning and that was adversely affecting the offensive line from both a numbers and experience perspective (along with other gibberish about losing those guys off-cycle). THIS IS THE REASON WE YELL AND SCREAM TO TAKE MORE OFFENSIVE LINEMEN EVERY CYCLE. Offensive line is a tough position and a tough spot to fill year in and year out. Clemson's recruiting strategy here has them right in the cross-hairs for the upcoming cycle. We really, really want to see more bodies brought in here every year and maybe, just maybe, these early departures along with the disaster that could very easily arise at the tackle position this season could cause the staff to rethink OL recruiting strategies.
Overall, you know what we always tell you about Spring Football and the like...football in March / April is just that. None of this stuff counts. These sessions are designed to improve football fundamentals and basic techniques. This is an opportunity for the coaching staff to tinker with personnel and their positions without immediate need to put people in spots to go out and play another team. As such, the main keys to gather from these drills include very core items like technique and physical improvements the guys made via S&C since the Orange Bowl.
It was good to hear that Tajh had a good pro day last week as well. Obviously, he's struggled since the Orange Bowl and needed some momentum headed into the draft. I don't recall the exact stats, but he only had one incomplete pass in approximately 65 attempts. You'll recall he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn during Senior Bowl week. Boyd was always streaky as Clemson's main man, so this is not too big of a surprise. It will be interesting to see how Boyd responds working full-time with quarterback gurus who will work on technique as well as mental preparedness. You know Boyd has the raw talent and must believe that a lot of his inconsistency is a mental byproduct.
The PGA action is heating up as the Tour gets into its Florida swing. The action down at Doral this week has been tremendous and interesting. First and foremost, the golf course got a real makeover from the Donald and is clearly much more challenging now that it was in previous years. This redesign combined with windy conditions have produced exciting action. No one is more geeked up about today's action than NBC. Tiger put together a tremendous round yesterday and played himself into contention. That, of course, means more eyes on their television wanting to see if Woods can make an improbable run at defending his championship. If you're wondering, Woods and Hunter Mahan sit at 1 under par for the tournament and will tee off in the second to last pairing. Patrick Reed (-4) leads and will be joined by Jason Duffner (-2) in the final grouping. Duffner hit a hot streak mid-round yesterday and clearly knows how to win big golf tournaments. Reed has two tournament championships under his belt as a professional, so he clearly knows what he's doing in spite of being 23 years old. All this bodes well for entertainment value this afternoon.
NASCAR is in Vegas this weekend. As excited as NBC is with Tiger's surge, you can bet Fox is equally as thrilled with Earnhardt Jr.'s fast start to 2014. He, like Woods, puts viewers in front of television sets. I am still trying to figure out the new system and still don't like the emphasis on winning instead of consistency but the France's and Mike Helton don't typically call me for advice. Maybe I'll come around and like the new rules...probably not. Again, I anticipate picking and choosing the races I want to watch and ignoring the rest. I'll definitely tune in for the Superspeedway races along with those at Bristol, Darlington, and Martinsville. Besides, I pull for 88 so why should I even watch? He is already allegedly in the Chase so I should be able to just sit back and wait until September, right?
Now that we are into March and the weather is getting better, we'll have a little Panic Attack today.