It wouldn't be a season preview without looking at our expectations for this season of Clemson football. But rather than roll out a single article with our expectations as an entire site, I've put the question to our entire staff and asked for their thoughts. What follows is the expectations from each writer. As you'll see we have a decent variety of opinions based on the question of what needs to happen for you to be happy with Clemson's season.
Brian: My expectations for this season are the following in order from least important to most important. Beat Georgia, win the Atlantic Division, win 10 games, win the ACC, and most importantly beat South Carolina. I'll be honest, I struggled with making winning the ACC or beating South Carolina more important to our goals. I'm on the record as normally being more than happy with an ACC title over a USCjr victory, but with the talent FSU has and the pain that is South Carolina I'm putting a win over them at the top. They are still 1a and 1b expectations, but it will be hard to be content without beating them.
Ryan K: For this particular season, winning nine games and either claiming the Atlantic division (unlikely) or beating South Carolina (toss up) defines success. If we lose to UGA, FSU, and South Carolina I won't be pleased with the season. If we win less than nine regular season games, it's hard to be pleased after the success we've had the past three years. To put it simply, win nine and beat FSU and/or S Carolina and I'm happy. UGA matters a lot too, but it's not the same as the others. The hate for UGA just isn't there like it is for FSU and the Chickens.
Mayclore: My definition of success for the 2014 season of Clemson football? This one is easy: beat South Carolina. Clemson could lose every single game on the schedule save that one and I would be somehow satisfied. Actually, that would be hilarious, wouldn't it? Losing to an 0-11 team. Picture it and laugh for days. Even if Spurrier won the national title, they'd ask him how he managed to screw this one up. It'd be perfect.
Of course, Clemson won't lose every game on the schedule. After a close win in Athens and a delicious bulldog-shaped cupcake at home, Florida State will likely prove a bit too much unless someone can bait Jameis Winston with some Publix crab legs. I don't see either UNC or NC State posing much of a problem at home, but Louisville is an interesting game – despite having lost both their star QB and star coach – but I'll say it's a win too. Boston College barely even counts as football anymore, and Syracuse coming to Memorial Stadium ain't gonna be pretty for the other orange Atlantic team. After that lies Wake Forest – another win – but as always, never trust Georgia Tech. I'm going to say this is a loss, just because it seems to happen at random. This leaves Clemson's ACC record at 6-2, and overall record at 8-2, certainly enough for a long look by the some large bowl. Georgia State is... oh, we're doing the SEC 'hurr durr cupcakes in November' thing now? Right.
The ACC and the Atlantic are normally the stepping stones to the national title game but with FSU in the division you can't expect it. Best is the standard so that should mean being close to the playoff every year.
CUVince: The expectation should always be 10+ wins, an ACC title and beating South Carolina's brains in. However, you have to keep your expectations in line with reality. The reality is we simply lose too much on offense to be the touchdown machine we were before. Gone is Boyd's running ability, gone is Watkins ability to make Boyd's passing ability look good and gone is the very last 1000 rusher we had left in us. With Seckinger missing extended time; Brooks and Anthony now out, we are getting to a point where we're going to see how "TOO DEEP" we really are. Once Stoudt settles in (or Watson takes over) think the offense will improve some. The defense will pick up any slack until then. We should be able to win at least 9 games with a bowl game. That's my expectation as far as win total goes.
As far as what goals need to be achieved this year, I don't care if we win the ACC or the Atlantic Division. I don't care if we go to one of the Big 5 New Years Day bowls. I don't care if we get into the College Football Playoff. I don't even care if Vic Beasley becomes the first primarily defensive player to win the Heisman. There is only one goal that matters now. Winning the 12th game of the year. Enough is enough. Beat the hell out South Carolina. We're sick of losing to them. Please. Okay? Thanks.
- Win 10 games. I could see this team winning 9 games but I expect 10. That should be the standard every year.
- Beat South Carolina. This goes without saying. Last time we won this game I wasn’t old enough to drive so its time for this to end.
- Don’t lose any games to lesser teams. I think we luck out by hosting Louisville because a road trip up there would have been tricky. The trip to Atlanta is usually a tough one but I think Venables and our defense have figured out Paul Johnson’s offense. Plus, the talent gap is only growing larger.
- Finish in at least the top 15. We’re staring at 16 so finishing in the top 15 would show some improvement over the course of the season. A top 15 finish would also indicate a 10 win season IMO.
C_Craft: Successful season for me is 9 to 10 wins IF one is the coot game. Only "success" without beating the coots would be 11 and 1 with the ACC title. To me, the coot game means everything in 2014. It is at home and the effing streak must end.
Chris: It's hard for me to put my finger on what would make this season a success. It's much easier for me to pinpoint what would make it a failure. Pure and simple, if we lose to USCjr again, this season is a failure. I never thought I'd see four in a row. Five was absolutely demoralizing. Six, well, I can't even think of a single word that would capture all the emotions that would stir up. The only thing that could offset a loss to the Chickens would be running the table on everyone else, winning the ACC, and making the playoffs. Even that, if I'm honest, would feel hollow in a way. On the other hand, I could see us playing well, but losing to FSU, UGA, and maybe even a Louisville or UNC, and being satisfied with the season if we can end the streak.
Ryan F: For the Tigers to have a successful season they will need to win at least 10 games, beat the Coots, and win their bowl game. Contrary from past years, I expect the Tigers to run the ball more and be a power running team while playing elite level defense. The Tigers return all their key players on defense from 2013 in Grady Jarrett, Vic Beasley, and Stephone Anthony. This trio should help lead a strong defensive unit. I expect the strong depth in the front seven to create opportunities for a young secondary to make more plays I think the passing game will take a slight step back this year with the loss of many key players in the passing game. The offensive line also doesn't have a lot of depth to hold up in pass protection as well as a lack of deep threats. That is why I believe Chad Morris will rely on his ground game heavily this year to offset losses in the passing game. The running game feature a lot of unproven players but doesn't lack talent. That is why for the most part I expect Clemson to be different than in past years and become a more physical, running team.