If you have read ALL of the internet message boards and social media groups that focus on the Clemson Tigers this week, and the other two weeks of the season, you will notice that Clemson is the worst team in the country. At least that’s what all of the “doom and gloomers” will have you believe. Also, please note that I would not be confused with being a “sunshine pumper” either. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here we go.
I am not a numbers guy, per se. I will let our fearless leader Seldom Used Reserve break down those for you, as he is a wiz at making morons like me understand things like SP+, FPI, and vig in the gambling world. So I will not be breaking down the rankings of the Clemson offensive and defensive units. I am more of an eye test guy, and the eye test would tell even the novice fan that Clemson has looked atrocious on offense, and there really isn’t a good rebuttal to that.
However, the sky is not falling Clemson fans. It is really not. We, as Clemson fans (myself included) are in the conversation for most spoiled fanbase in the country and this season has proven that fact to me. That’s right, I said FACT, not opinion when I talk about a spoiled fanbase. Alabama is tops on the list for spoiled fan-bases as the entire country revels in their (very occasional) losses. Clemson, and maybe Ohio State are #’s 2 and 3 on the list. And here’s why.
Since 2014, the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff, Clemson has played in six of them. That is six of the seven seasons. The only other school that can say that IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY is Alabama. Ohio State has been to four along with Oklahoma (can’t spell OkLLLLahoma without four L’s), Notre Dame two and then a handful of other also-rans (save LSU in 2019). No matter how many times that people try to spin the Clemson run into some semblance of a negative, the run that Clemson has been on is nothing short of tremendous. The run, based on what we have seen through three games may be coming to an end this year, however, Clemson is the second most dominant program in the country and there is no disputing that. And the team is 2-1, with their only loss coming at the hands of arguably the best team in the country, the Georgia Bulldogs
As stated earlier, I am not a numbers guy, I leave that to the brains behind Sluggo Podcast, but the number of playoff appearances is rather impressive.
There has been a lot of word salad already strewn around this article, mirroring my long-winded nature of the afore-mentioned Sluggo. However, the point of the longest lede in journalism history is to say that we, Clemson faithful, have been extremely fortunate and spoiled over the course of the last seven years, garnering two National Championships along the way. Clemson has more than arrived, they are the standard in college football ALONGSIDE Alabama. Ohio State, Oklahoma and others are behind those two programs, by a large margin. There will always be detractors; opposing, jealous fanbases, media members that seemingly have it out for Dabo Swinney and hang on his every word in order to dissect it like that poor frog from Biology class in high school. I will be honest, that stuff always gets my ire up when I read anything negative about my team, however, during my long tenure as a student at Clemson (significantly more than the traditional 4 years), I would beg people to talk about my Tigers as we trudged to yet another Peach Bowl under Tommy Bowden or Tommy West.
Opposing fan bases will try to knock Clemson’s success as “recent,” or “new blood, not blue blood,” “bandwagon fanbase,” along with many other not so inventive names that lack any sort of creativity, but the facts are, Clemson is here to stay. And that is where my Ted Talk will shift my attention in the direction of Clemson fans and this 2021 football team.
This team has issues. No question about it. I am not here to speak otherwise on that very glaring fact. Nearly every beat-writer, national pundits, talking heads have broken down ad nauseum the fact that Clemson is a shell of itself on offense. Big Cinco has looked shell-shocked from the opening snap versus Georgia and even the two “get-right” games that followed, never seemed comfortable and in control of the offense. The running backs outside of Will Shipley have not been what Clemson fans have been used to during this incredible 12 year run of 10+ win seasons.
I have been on record (with my friends and family) as stating that I will never criticize or question others that have jobs that I do not believe I am qualified for. And the head football coach of the second best current program in the country falls right into that bucket. With that being said, I do NOT think the issues on offense are all falling on the shoulders of Dabo Swinney or Tony Elliott for that matter. I believe it is the safety-valve factor. Yep, I said it. Clemson does not have a Hunter Renfrow nor an Amari Rodgers, and most glaring to me is no Travis Etienne. Now all of you that have read this far are looking at that last sentence saying, “he didn’t mention DW4 or TL16” and you’re right. Those guys were clearly the alphas in the offense and held master classes most Saturdays on how to lead an offense. BUT, and it’s a huge but in my view that they also had the guys that were able to help them when they needed it most. Yes, DW and TL were able to scramble. DJ can do that too, as seen in the two drives late (save the fumble) versus Georgia Tech. But there is a reason that Hunter Renfrow, all 5’9” 175 pounds, is playing on Sundays. I heard it mentioned during the 9/19/21 Las Vegas Raiders game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, the announcers called him “Third and Renfrow.” Have we heard that before Clemson fans?
I am digressing in epic proportions, and as I continue to add to my (hopefully) weekly column of run-on sentences and overuse commas like all of my English teachers and sports editors through the years tried to correct, you will notice that more and more. Especially now that I pointed it out to you. So if it makes you feel better, print this article out, grab your red pens, and send me edits and maybe I’ll mention you on Sluggo. Either that, or save the paper and just constructively criticize me on our weekly public forum on Facebook or YouTube. Back to the point in the next paragraph.
My two cents this week is: Clemson has had its share of issues on the offensive line. Again, you already know that. The quarterback is not what we hoped or even thought it would be after that unreal performance versus Notre Dame in South Bend a season ago. The running backs have been good when they’ve had (or made, in Shipley’s case) space to run. The wide receivers do not seem to be able to get separation, but we’ve not even seen one downfield attempt all season. (note: please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember one). And arguably the most frustrating thing for me is the play of the tight ends. Not even the drops from Braden Galloway, but just the constant non-usage of them. Davis Allen was arguably the most dependable hands on the team a season ago, and that includes Amari and Cornell Powell, and yet we’ve seen very little usage of those guys. I believe Allen should be the next “Third and Renfrow.” One of the Sluggo podcast co-hosts, “Locks” wrote in a text over the weekend something to the effect of “I’m tired of people telling me to relax, this is just flat-out awful.” And normally I would have gotten upset (see comment above about me being overly sensitive about my Tigers), and I’ve been one of those people that has told him to relax. But if this team does not get its glaring issues corrected, Clemson is going to be the talk of the town and the nation with talking-heads, cluckers, and many others trying to bring this program down, and as much as I will want to run to one of my many burner accounts on Twitter to refute them, I finally realize that Clemson has made it. And if this is a rebuilding year, and they can still manage to win 10 or 11 games, as I will go on record and predict, we are one spoiled fanbase. And I love being a part of it.
Beat the Woofies!