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Clemson Football Mailbag: All Your Non Recruiting Questions

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NCAA Football: South Carolina at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Last week we asked readers for some pressing questions for the STS staff to answer. Your non-recruiting questions and answers are below.

If we start losing some of our key coaches will we be more like FSU under Bowden and start a slow fade or more like Bama and just keep churning out top flight teams? (Dapdaddy)

(Colby) Honestly, I feel as though the only way a slow decline starts is one of two ways: if Dabo fully departs the program. He has been a master of looking ahead past certain situations (i.e. prepping Tony Elliott/Jeff as co-OCs, hiring Brandon Streeter, etc.). Even when we lost Morris, recruiting remained top notch. You have to remember the other problem: Dabo’s coaching staff not only likes where they are, but they can afford to be a bit pickier than other assistant coaches. Saban gets a lot of turnover because they usually want to get from under Saban’s immense shadow at Alabama. But indications from coaches like Venables show that, while opportunities are there for them at virtually anytime, they’re content to wait it out until there’s something they really, really like. For instance, Jeff Scott has had plenty of opportunities to leave, but he sticks around (he’s also been patient in waiting for an opportunity like he has now, and he really likes the area. Plus, it’s his alma mater. It’ll be hard for any school to pull him away)

Out of the entire staff, the three most important coaches are these three: Dabo, Scott, and Venables (you could argue for Streeter being a close fourth, and we’re lucky a program hasn’t audibly come poaching the staff yet). In about 8-plus years of 10-win seasons, the coaching staff has been largely intact with little significant turnover. Even Morris’s departure didn’t shift recruiting. Dabo is a program builder, and he knows how to put together a staff. As long as he remains at the center, Clemson won’t be in line for decline for a while.

Why have we gotten away from the jet motion? Is it an issue with personnel at the WR position or just the fact that we don’t need window dressing anymore? (Mister_Worst)

(Colby) I assume you mean the jet sweep? A lot of it is yes, personnel. Now that you have a strong stable of RBs and WRs who can push the ball down the field, it’s an item we don’t use as much to get to the edge. You can chalk it up to a number of things. It might not be Elliott’s preferred method given you have 3-4 RBs to give carries to plus an extended use of RPOs. That’s not to say that they’ve forgotten about it. It’s still there, and you never know when it’ll come out. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to just how play-calling changes and the guys you want running it. With Lawrence at QB and the ability to push the ball downfield and ETN in the backfield, it’s one of those things that isn’t really essential to the offense anymore.

If ScElliot leaves right now who do you want Dabo’s first phone call to go to? (Mister_Worst)

(Drew) First and foremost, I don’t anticipate either of them leaving this off season, and a certainly don’t think Jeff Scott and Tony Elliot would both leave unless both were offered head coaching jobs. Tennessee reached out to Jeff Scott to see if he had any interest in their offensive coordinator position, and he politely (knowing Jeff Scott) declined to interview.

If something truly weird happens, based on past precedent, I think Dabo’s first phone call would be to Brandon Streeter, or you know, maybe he would just go down the hall and knock on his office door. Streeter was a solid offensive coordinator at both Liberty and Richmond, and has been around Clemson’s offense long enough to know how everything works. Dabo values trust, loyalty, and continuity over making splashy hires, and that’s one of the reasons Clemson’s coaching staff works so well as a unit.

I know it’s not the sexy hire, but neither was the Tony Elliot / Jeff Scott hire.

(Colby) Honestly, Dabo probably does one of two things if Elliott leaves: either gives full-time duties to Jeff Scott as full-time OC, or promotes Brandon Streeter to co-OC and simply promotes a guy from within or hires a RB position coach. Likewise probably happens if Scott leaves first. Dabo is about promoting and shifting from within, and he probably likes the way his co-OC system has worked out since it was implemented in 2015. Outside-wise, Dabo’s hard to read when it comes to external hires. For instance, Chad Morris was Tulsa for only a year before coming to Clemson, and Venables wasn’t on any major radars.

What is Clemson’s 5 year outlook? (sradvan)

(JP) I think over the next five years we’re going to see this program remain one of the nation’s elite. The key to any great team starts at QB, and you know what you’ve got for at least the next 2 seasons with Lawrence. He’s only going to get better, and barring something crazy and unforeseen, I don’t see this program falling off with him as the trigger man. Those next three years are harder to predict, but as of today it seems we’re in very good shape to iand the number one QB prospect in 2020 DJ Uiagalelei. Land him and I think this thing keeps chugging right along. Don’t forget Chase Brice would still have a year left to play as well, and I think most would be comfortable with him taking the reigns for a season should Lawrence do as expected and enter the NFL draft after 3 seasons. That’s not even mentioning Taisun Phommachanh, the #3 dual threat QB in the country and is apart of the 2019 class.

OL recruiting has to improve but we’ve sustained success thus far without racking up on elite level OLB prospects. That area is really the last hurdle this program needs to get over.

Dabo and his staff have proved that it can go out and recruit the best talent in the country. I don’t see any reason that changes over the next five years.

(Colby) Assuming there aren’t major staff departures, things should remain relatively similar: Dabo has Clemson as a continued national frontrunner, possibly landing another national championship and plenty more ACC Championships while landing more CFB appearances. In 5 years, I don’t certain staff to be around ( i.e. I think Elliott leaves first as he’s already expressed desire as a HC, but you never know). I expect a HC offer to come that he can’t pass up, as he’ll have demonstrated continued recruiting prowess and proof that he can be a consistent play caller. Clemson has proven its ability to not only recruit blue-chip prospects like Lawrence, but also develop solid ones like Chase Brice, so expectations will continue to be at an all-time high. Again, as long as Dabo is HC, Clemson is set for a long time.

What is next for Clemson athletics when it comes to facilities? (sradvan)

(Colby) Facilities-wise, the biggest project will likely come for Clemson’s softball team, given that the majority of Clemson’s athletics team facilities have either gotten or completed their major renovations already. Football is always gonna get something it seems, so I’d expect some additional compliments to the facility.

(Alex) The tennis facility’s major overhaul was just finished and looks fantastic; not only will it obviously benefit the tennis programs, but it cleaned up an old eyesore from both the Riggs Field and Highway 93 vantage points. Additionally, the softball stadium construction has begun in Jervey Meadows, and the IPTAY Center in the northwest corner of the football stadium is being demolished and rebuilt.

The big mystery is what’s next for the football stadium. As much as I would love to see capacity increase to 90k, it won’t happen. Increasing capacity is no longer viable with HDTV and ticket/donation prices, and you won’t see Clemson do so since we don’t even sell out every game (only 5 sellouts this year). We’re even seeing other major programs reduce capacity. The only way to add a sizable chunk to capacity anyway is to make another deck above the West Zone, which wouldn’t be desirable or lucrative seats (read: IPTAY won’t make money on them). Almost all renovations in the recent past and the foreseeable future in college football involve increasing premium seating to massively increase revenue, and this will continue.

Everyone who received IPTAY’s recent survey on stadium satisfaction knows more are coming; the survey dealt exclusively with the need/desire expressed (or lack thereof) for more premium seating. The West Zone and club levels along the north and south stands are great, but IPTAY wants more. More premium seating will be added in the next few years, the question is where.

My first guess would be loge seating or boxes somewhere in the east end zone near or around the Hill. The east end zone is the obvious first place to look for upgrades, though we’re working with limited space due to the Hill, student section, and especially Williamson Road. I expect we’ll see something built up over the east bowl with sky boxes overlooking the Hill and Williamson Road, with a new videoboard integrated into it.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see premium decks on either corner of the west end zone either (the only way to create desirable seating that high up is to make them premium boxes) along with some way to connect the upper decks.

At the top of my personal wish list: bigger videoboard; speakers spread throughout the stadium; awnings built above the north and south upper decks (see West Zone club level).