Coming off a loss like Clemson did against Florida State is hard, especially when they held a lead for most of the game and let it slip away. The defense was exposed, and played poorly down the stretch, failing to get stops later on in the game to give their talented offense a chance, falling 49-37 in the end, and to 3-1 for the season.
Now, some Tiger fans are suddenly up in arms. Some are calling for defensive coordinator Brent Venables' head, while others are shutting down like this was the last game of the season and that we have lost any kind of shot at an ACC Championship.
But we must call for Tiger fans to be two things: reasonable and realistic.
Tiger fans must keep things in perspective. First, we all know what our offense is capable of. We know Tajh Boyd can lead this team to victory, and we know the weapons this offense has in its receiving corps and running back Andre Ellington.
Even the questionable offensive line has shown improvement and that it can protect Boyd. We know that Chad Morris is a top-notch offensive coordinator, and that he was worth that big raise with the way he has turned that offense around.
But, we also know our defense has had its struggles the past few seasons, which resulted in the departure of former defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and the addition of Brent Venables, formerly of the Oklahoma Sooners, who have had productive defenses, and Venables being a well respected name in the college football coaching business.
So yes, we are disappointed that the defense did not do enough, giving up 667 yards of total offense to FSU, and failing to get stops in the second half, but that's no reason to suddenly jump straight to Venables. His first year as DC, we should not be expecting a miracle top ranked defense, especially not with what we lost.
We lost three starting members along the defensive line, two of which were second round draft picks in the 2012 NFL Draft, and a cornerback who also got drafted in the fourth round.
We are young along the line, our linebackers have potential but need both work and experience. Our secondary play needs a combination of technique help and recruiting help, which comes down to the position coach itself and overall recruiting battles, which Clemson has lost when it comes to top defensive backs, with the exception of Travis Blanks, the lone bright spot in the unit.
So Tiger fans should know that, with these factors, that Clemson would not go undefeated, and even face the possibility that a repeat ACC Championship berth may be out of reach because of our defense.
Our offense can score against anybody, but Tiger fans need to be aware that player execution is the main problem right now on defense, not the schemes.
Why is a team like Alabama so successful? Because they recruit talent, develop that talent, and their players, and on top of it all, execute the schemes. Alabama's schemes wouldn't work either if their players executed the way Clemson's did against FSU.
Would teams jump to fire Nick Saban so quickly? No, of course not. Not with his record. Do the same for Venables, who had plenty of time to develop his talent at Oklahoma and make a name for himself in such a way that he was being pursued as a possible head coach.
Next, be reasonable. Clemson was not going to be playing in any kind of National Championship game. As much as we want Clemson to win every game, we must be aware of our weaknesses, no matter how obvious, and assess.
Now, Clemson's offense can keep us in every game, and in the thick of the ACC race until the end. Looking at the rest of the schedule, Clemson can still go on to have a 9-10 win season and get to a good bowl game should they lose out on the Atlantic Division. The division is not automatically out of reach after this one loss.
This is not the Florida State of the 90s. After all, if all of the sports pundits were right about Florida State, they would have won, or at least been in serious contention for, a National Championship last year...and the year before that. They still have a long way to go.
Tiger fans must also be reasonable and not get caught up in all the press clippings and releases. Everyone saw that this was a prime time game, that both teams are ranked in the Top Ten, and that the winner would be in the "driver's seat" for the Atlantic Division.
But again, don't let the press cloud judgement. You should have known that this would not be an easy game to play, that Florida State would put up a fight, as they do, and have, almost every single year. It's a game that could go either way, and fans should be careful to not get too caught up in the hype of big games like these when it comes to press releases.
After all, they should have learned from the LSU-Alabama game of the century in 2011 right?
So to all of Clemson Tiger faithful, it's not over. Week Four of college football isn't sudden death. This season is not lost after one loss in an early season prime time game. If we are really "All In", let's work with this team and all unite under one color: Orange.
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