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Reasonable Expectations for Clemson Football

Was last year an aberration or the new norm?

Syndication: The Greenville News Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

We are only a few days away from the start of the 2022 Clemson Football season! Camp is over, scrimmages have taken place, players and coaches’ interviews are rolling in and every fan has the same question in mind. What should our expectations be for the team this year?

Last year, after the absurd success our team has experienced and the run of consecutive CFP appearances, we found ourselves unranked for the first time in years and were sitting with a 2-2 record wondering where it had all gone wrong. It’s no surprise that 2021 was a down year for Clemson football and the following are just some of the issues we experienced:

  • DJ was not even a pale imitation of the electric player we saw in 2020 that lit up a very talented ND team in South Bend and looked to be the next great Clemson QB.
  • Justyn Ross, and the WR group were a shell of the former elite WRU that teams feared trying to cover.
  • We ran into a slew of injuries the likes of which we haven’t seen under a Dabo lead team.
  • For the 1st time in 6 years, we not only didn’t win the ACC but didn’t even win our division.

It is a testament to the players and coaching staff that despite all of the adversity we still won 10 games, crushed the Coots, and won the bowl game to end the year on a high spot.

This offseason, DC Brent Venables, OC Tony Elliott, and DT Coach Todd Bates all left for other jobs and O-Line coach Robbie Caldwell retired. We now have a lot of new faces on the coaching staff or at least in elevated roles. With that, there are a lot of unknowns in how these changes are going to translate to the football field. Despite this, Dabo and Clemson have never changed their goals. So, let’s review those goals and look at what we should expect to achieve and what obstacles will be in our way:

1. Win the Opener

This one will be answered in 7 days. We have the GT Yellow Jackets in Atlanta on September 5th in prime time. Suffice to say that last year’s game was the first real hint to the struggles we were going to experience. It was a slog of a game that seemed to go on forever only for the tigers to escape with a 14-8 victory.

I don’t foresee us having those struggles again this year. The team will be healthy (save for X. Thomas and potentially Tre Williams), refreshed, and ready that the Tigers aren’t going anywhere. We should expect a heavy dose of the run game and some quick passes to get the slimmer and more confident DJ in a rhythm while the D abuses the Jacket’s offense.

Odds of Success: >99%

2. Win the Division

On paper this is a deep and talented division. NC State and Wake are both ranked, though Wake losing their starting QB calls into question how much a challenge they’ll really be. Syracuse always finds a way to play us tougher than their record is. Louisville can claim the same and the way they are recruiting, they are going to be a team to watch going forward. FSU, though not the most impressive in their first game, has the talent to make the game close. The blunt and honest truth is that we were very fortunate to win the 10 games we did last year. 5 of our 6 ACC wins last year were decided by 10 pts or less.

NC State will be the biggest challenge and both their team and coach are riding high after finally beating us last year, even though it took them overtime to do it on a depleted Clemson team in Raleigh. Still credit where credit is due and they are ranked in the top 15.

All that being said, our D will be better than last year as long as everyone stays healthy and the offense honestly can’t be worse. It’s fair to expect us to win the Atlantic Division but it’s not a certainty until we see more from the revamped offense.

Odds of Success: 85%

3. Win the State Championship

One of the few bright spots last year was going in Williams-Brice and running the ball down the Coots’ throats all night long while our D absolutely abused and ultimately shut out their offense.


While they have a reason to be optimistic with Rattler slinging the ball for them, that OL is still suspect and provided we’re healthy, our front 7 should eat all night long. No QB looks good running for his life or flat on his back. They also couldn’t stop our running game which will be even better this year with an improved passing attack to go with it.

Oh, and did I mention the game is the Valley? Yeah this one is easy and we’re about to go 8 and 0. Honestly, they can go ahead and print the “10 in a Row” shirts now.

Odds of Success: 95%

4. Win the Conference

I find this one interesting because provided we win the Atlantic, which I believe we will, we could be facing the same team twice in 3 weeks. The Miami Hurricanes are ranked No. 16 and have a lot of momentum behind them with new coaches, our very own former AD running the helm, and a lot of talent. Still, we’ve heard for years that “The U is Back!” so color me skeptical on that until we see it on the field. The last time they bragged about coming to the Valley with a ranked team we beat their heads in. However, the Coastal division isn’t very good. Miami’s only real challenge will be Pittsburgh who lost their starting QB to the draft last year.

My expectation at the moment is Miami drops a game they shouldn’t — because of course they will — but beat Pitt at home and make it to the ACCCG. Unfortunately for them, they will end up losing to Clemson again but hey baby steps right?

Odds of Success: 75%

5. Win the Bowl Game(s)

This is hard to plan for because there are so many unknowns at the moment. However, as shown above I expect Clemson to win the ACC this year and that will almost assuredly get us in the Playoffs even if we have a loss on our record. Without seeing how much our offense has improved, making the Playoffs may be the most we can expect this year. If the offense is only marginally better then even accomplishing that will be a challenge. If we’re closer to the Clemson offense run by DJ that we saw in 2020 against BC and ND, then this is a deep, talented and deadly team to face when healthy.

Odds of Success: TBD

But what do you think? What are your expectations for the Tigers this year and how confident are you? Let us know in the poll and comments section below:


How successful will the the 2022 Clemson Tigers be?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Fail to win the Atlantic Division
    (12 votes)
  • 1%
    Win the Atlantic Division, but not the ACC overall
    (6 votes)
  • 17%
    Win the ACC, but miss the playoff
    (81 votes)
  • 42%
    Win the ACC, make the playoff, but lose in the semi-final game
    (195 votes)
  • 16%
    Win the ACC, make the playoff, but lose in the National Championship
    (74 votes)
  • 20%
    Win the ACC and National Championship
    (94 votes)
462 votes total Vote Now