Happy Thanksgiving Week, Clemson Nation! It’s easy to know what to be thankful for with the Tigers this week. Clemson got a win over a Top 10 opponent, kept their long home winning streak intact, Kept their long winning streak against Wake Forest intact, kept a division rival from clinching the division title on their field, and kept their slim, but mathematically very real, chances to win the division themselves alive. It was the most complete victory for the team this season. Kobe Pace and Will Shipley went crazy, both rushing for over 100 yds each & two touchdowns each (not to mention Shipley had a touchdown pass too).  There was the obligatory DJ moment which just made us scratch our heads, but overall, he had a good day. We need to acknowledge that Beaux Collins was a big reason DJ had a good day, and that the staff recognized that Wake Forest couldn’t stop the run, and only threw the ball twice in the 2nd half, but that is the definition of complimentary football. The defense played well too. It’s hard to keep an offense like Wake’s in check, but Clemson’s D swarmed them to start the game, and kept up the intensity in the 2nd half forcing multiple turnovers.

Now, we look ahead to this upcoming weekend, and we quickly transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I am very thankful for what Clemson Nation has, but that doesn’t mean I’m not hoping for a whole lot more, and this would be a wonderful year for Santa to bring some early gifts to Tiger fans!

Dear Santa:

  1. I want a 7th win in a row against South Carolina: Clemson renews its biggest rivalry series with the South Carolina Gamecocks this Saturday, who have quite a bit to be thankful for themselves. Not only did the Gamecocks secure their sixth win, which means they will be bowling this season, but they secured it against the Auburn Tigers & former OC Mike Bobo. Not to mention they blew out Florida along the way and had a hand in Dan Mullen being fired by the Gators. All in all, November has been a very good month for SC. They would love nothing more than to wrap it up by ending the losing streak to the Tigers, while Clemson fans would love nothing more than to take out their frustrations for the 2021 season on their archrival. I honestly think this will be a very entertaining football game.
  2. I want North Carolina to beat NC State: Like we said earlier, Clemson is still alive for an Atlantic Division Title, but they need help. It starts on Friday night in Raleigh. Clemson might share the division championship if NC State wins Friday, but there is no way that the Tigers can play for a conference championship if the Wolfpack beats the Tar Heels. That’s right, my Clemson family: if you want Clemson to play for another ACC title, we must root for our best buddy Mack Brown.  That may sound hard, but remember, he’s playing Dave Doeran, so it probably won’t be that hard after all.
  3. I want Boston College to beat Wake Forest: A Tar Heel win isn’t all we need though, because Friday won’t matter if Wake Forest wins on Saturday. The Demon Deacons have had a great season, and they have put themselves in a position to control their own destiny. They travel to Chestnut Hill to take on the Boston College Eagles, a team that has not had a lot of luck this season. The Eagles lost talented starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec for most of this season due to injury. Jurkovec is back now, and BC is bowl eligible, but his return still wasn’t enough to beat Florida State this past weekend. Wake has a good offense, but a below-average defense. Unless weather intervenes, this will be a high scoring affair. Clemson’s best hope is that the Jurkovec to Zay Flowers connection explodes and the BC defense steps up. Unfortunately for the Tiger’s hopes, the Eagle defense hasn’t been able to slow down many teams this season.
  4. I want Clemson to avenge their regular-season loss to Pitt: If Santa thinks I’ve been good this year and blesses me with UNC and BC victories, Clemson will have a chance for the second year in a row to avenge a regular season road loss to their opponent in the ACC championship game. Last year’s victory against Notre Dame was super sweet because we kept them from winning a conference championship in their only year as a full member, but a chance to beat Pitt would be so much sweeter this season. It might take a miracle for it to happen, but seven ACC titles in a row would be a great way to top off a challenging season.
  5. I want a drama-free early signing class: I admit I enjoy some of the crazier aspects of signing day. We all know there will be young men who make a last-minute change that will shock everyone. Then there will be the kid who announces for one team, but then doesn’t send in his letter of intent, and later in the day we find out he isn’t signing or is signing with a different school. Or the one when the momma doesn’t like the player’s decision, so she steals the letter and drives two states over before she realizes the school can just send a second copy of the letter and papa has signed it with the player. I eat that stuff up, so I do want drama, just not for the Tigers. If one of those coveted recruits flips to Clemson, then I will do a happy dance. I just don’t want any of Clemson’s commits to flip to someone else. Clemson has had a good track record under Coach Swinney on signing day, and I hope the good fortune continues.
  6. I want Clemson to play in the Peach Bowl: Since the Orange Bowl is a CFP semi-final game this season, the ACC champion should be slotted into the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, which is a great location for Clemson fans since it is so close.  Most fans can save on airfare and Tiger Nation usually fills out the stadium in Atlanta. If an ACC championship & NY6 bowl isn’t in the cards, then I will still love to root for Clemson in their bowl game no matter where they land. The Gator in Jacksonville and the Cheez-It in Orlando have been mentioned the most lately. The Duke’s Mayo in Charlotte has also been mentioned, and there has even been talk that the Holiday in San Diego could be in play. I honestly wouldn’t mind that at all because I don’t think the Tigers have ever played in the Holiday Bowl. I like adding new trophies to the case.
  7. I want to see all Clemson’s departing players play one last time in bowl season: I am going to miss Skalski, Bockhorst, Turner and all the other players who have exhausted their eligibility. I wish Xavier Thomas and Justyn Ross all the best in the NFL. I totally understand if both elect to sit out the bowl game, especially Ross. We don’t know for sure he would even be healthy enough to play. If they are both healthy, I would enjoy seeing both suit up for the Tigers one last time.
  8. I want Andrew Booth and Tyler Davis to return for one more season: I couldn’t blame either player for electing to go pro. In fact, I’m not sure I could honestly tell Booth that he should return to Clemson. I’m not sure he could position himself better for the pros than he has this season. If he goes pro, I am happy for him, but I sure would love it if he came back for one more year. As for Davis, he is a guy who would be drafted this year, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes pro also. The question is where he will be drafted. I predicted in the pre-season that Davis would return for 2022 because I didn’t see many prospect lists that had him ranked much above the Top 50. While defensive tackles are coveted by NFL teams, being ranked around 50 means Davis isn’t likely to be a first round pick. Being a second day pick in the draft is not bad at all, but there is a precedent among Clemson defensive linemen that guys who get draft grades outside the first round have returned for one more year and elevated their stock, like Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell. Davis recently said that he had not made a final decision, but that he is leaning towards returning. I suspect he is waiting for that draft grade to be sure.
  9. I want minimal transfers from the program: I think everyone understands the reality of the portal and the relaxed transfer rules. There is zero chance that nobody will leave the Clemson program. Jaelyn Lay has already indicated that we will transfer. Personally, I think we will also see a quarterback, maybe a couple wide receivers, and at least one linebacker leave the program. If that is the extent of the transfers, Clemson will be in good shape. If there are more, then the Tigers may have some soft spots on the depth chart.
  10. I want Clemson to bring some players in from the transfer portal: Clemson has some good prospects in their current class right now, especially in the defensive backfield, but overall, their class is small. They are still recruiting several positions, but it is likely that they will lose more players at some positions than they will bring in. It is all but a guarantee that will be the case at running back, where Lynn-J Dixon and Michael Dukes left the team before the season was over, and Darien Rencher will exhaust his eligibility. The Tigers are recruiting Trevor Etienne hard right now, but even if they land him, they still won’t have a big running back group. Depending on unexpected departures, Clemson might find they are also low on numbers on the defensive line and in the wide receiver rooms. I don’t expect Clemson to chase high-profile transfers, but I do think they will supplement the roster as needed. The wild card – if Taisun Phommachanh elects to transfer, will the staff add Cade Klubnik, a five-star high school recruit that is presently 6-3, 186 lbs dripping wet, and let it ride? Or will they decide to bring in another quarterback just in case Klubnik isn’t ready to back up DJ right away? Will they find a transfer who is willing to join the team without a guarantee that he will start?

We could keep this going through spring practice right up to a 2022 National Championship, but I think I have probably burdened Santa enough, and if I get two or three of these, I’ve probably had a good Football Christmas. Enjoy your Turkey Day, Clemson family!

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