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Reviewing Clemson’s Opponents - Week One

Capital One Orange Bowl - Clemson v Tennessee Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

The Clemson Tigers will finally take the field on Monday night to begin the 2023 season with a clash in Durham against the Duke Blue Devils. Dabo Swinney’s squad has had the luxury of watching the action and getting a first look at each opponent. This weekly article will recap how Clemson’s 2023 schedule is performing.

Week 2 - Charleston Southern Buccaneers (1-0 - Win over North Greenville)

Clemson’s home opener will be against in-state FCS opposition Charleston Southern. The Buccaneers have a first-year head coach (Gabe Giardina) and were actually outgained by North Greenville (291-252) in their season opener. Charleston Southern rallied from a 10-3 halftime deficit with ten points in the fourth quarter to grab the 13-10 win. They will come to Clemson at 1-0 but this will be a glorified scrimmage for the Tigers.

Week 3 - Florida Atlantic Owls (1-0 - Win over Monmouth)

FAU will journey north from Boca Raton to play in Death Valley. New quarterback Casey Thompson was very impressive in his first contest with the Owls, completing 20 of 25 passes for 280 yards with five touchdowns. FAU beat Monmouth by a score of 42-20 to move to 1-0 under first-year head coach Tom Herman.

Week 4 - Florida State Seminoles (1-0 - Win over LSU)

On September 23, Clemson will host Florida State. Many have this one marked down as the ACC Game of the Year and it could go a long way towards determining what this Clemson team’s ceiling is in 2023. Florida State came into the Sunday night showcase against LSU with a lot of hype after a strong transfer portal season and major progress from Mike Norvell’s squad in his second season. We can’t definitively say whether or not FSU is “back” but they sure did look good in the second half of their 45-24 romp over #5 LSU. Jordan Travis looked shaky early but settled in to go 23 for 31 with 342 yards and four touchdowns. The Seminoles did not run the ball all that well but they have some absolute “dudes” at wide receiver. Keon Coleman had 122 yards on nine catches with three touchdowns and Johnny Wilson added 104 yards on seven catches. It was only one game but Florida State looks like a legitimate College Football Playoff contender.

Week 5 - Syracuse Orange (1-0 - Win over Monmouth)

Syracuse demolished Colgate in the JMA Wireless Dome by a score of 65-0. Can we learn anything at all from that contest? No.

Week 6 - Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-0 - Win over Elon)

Wake Forest began the post-Sam Hartman era on Thursday night with a home game against the Elon Phoenix. The Demon Deacons rolled to a 37-17 victory but were actually outscored in the second half. The big question coming into the season for Wake Forest was how quarterback Mitch Griffis would operate the offense and week one offered mixed results. Griffis ended up 19-30 with 329 yards and three touchdowns but he missed a number of throws and did not show much of the innate ability Sam Hartman had to make plays on the move. Griffis is just not much of a threat with his legs and that really puts a ceiling on how dangerous Wake’s slow mesh offense can be. The Demon Deacons play Vanderbilt this Saturday and we should learn more from that game.

Week 7 - Miami Hurricanes (1-0 - Win over Miami of Ohio)

After Clemson’s bye week, the Tigers will travel to Miami to play the Hurricanes. Miami opened the season with a pasting of Miami of Ohio, outgaining the RedHawks 493 yards to 215. Tyler Van Dyke was 17-22 for 201 yards but it was the running game and defense that carried the day for the Hurricanes. They ran for 250 yards and an average of 6.91 yards per carry. This Saturday, Miami plays Texas A&M.

Week 8 - NC State Wolfpack (1-0 - Win over UConn)

The partnership of offensive coordinator Robert Anae and quarterback Brennan Armstrong is a work in progress. The two were together in Virginia a couple of seasons ago so it was a bit of a surprise to see them struggle quite a bit in the season opener against Connecticut. The Wolfpack eventually pulled away for a 24-14 win over the Jim Mora Jr.’s Huskies but it was not a work of art. Armstrong was just 17-26 for 155 yards and the lack of weapons at wide receiver, a concern going into the season, was apparent. He ran for 96 yards and the ground game led to the win. Things get much tougher for NC State this weekend as they battle Notre Dame.

Week 9 - Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0 - Win over Tennessee State)

The Fighting Irish have looked really good thus far. Notre Dame played in week zero and demolished Navy in Dublin, Ireland. They came back to the United States and blasted Tennessee State in South Bend last Saturday. Overreacting based on two games against massively overmatched teams would be unwise but it’s fair to say that Sam Hartman looks very good with that offense and Notre Dame has a dominant offensive line that will make them really tough. As previously mentioned, they play NC State this Saturday and we’ll learn a lot more about both teams from that game.

Week 10 - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (0-1 - Loss to Louisville)

Brent Key entered his first full season as the head coach of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and very nearly spoiled the debut of Jeff Brohm as Louisville’s head coach. On Friday night in Atlanta, Georgia Tech looked great in the first half against the Cardinals. Quarterback Haynes King was living up to his recruiting ranking and the Yellow Jackets appeared to have significantly improved their team speed. The second half was a much different story as Georgia Tech collapsed and fell to Louisville.

Week 11/12 - North Carolina Tar Heels/South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0/0-1)

Clemson’s final two opponents of the regular season met in Charlotte on Saturday night. It was a seesaw affair early before North Carolina took control and pulled away for a comfortable win to move to 1-0. We know Drake Maye is really good and we know the Tar Heels will have a good offense. The biggest thing to come out of that game was on the other side of the ball: is South Carolina’s offensive line that bad or has North Carolina improved a lot on the defensive line? The Tar Heels got after Spencer Rattler and were able to completely disrupt the Gamecocks offensive rhythm all evening, winning 31-17. North Carolina had six different players with sacks and two players with a pair of them in the victory. If North Carolina has a legitimate defensive front, they become a much different beast to deal with.