Clemson Football: The Strangest of Hurdles

Jay SchrimpfCorrespondent IAugust 14, 2009

CLEMSON, SC - NOVEMBER 12:  Clemson Tigers fans celebrate a touchdown against the Florida State Seminoles during an Atlantic Coast Conference game on November 12, 2005 at Clemson Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Every preseason, a team must address what obstacles need be overcome in order to have a successful season.

In some cases, it could be the schedule, as is the case for Miami this year—The Canes get Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Oklahoma as their first four opponents. It sure would have been helpful to at least spread those games throughout the schedule. 

In the case of FSU, there are no running backs that are proven.

Clemson also has its issues in the preseason.

After looking over the Tigers' "problem areas," I came up with a few pertinent ones. The most significant problem out of the Clemson camp is a lack of a place-kicker. In close games, a place-kicker can be very important, as Clemson found out in 1999 and in 2006. 

Of course, there is the quarterback controversy brewing (a subject in and of itself). The Tigers are also going to have to find at least two more receivers to help out Jacoby Ford.  

But these problems pale in comparison to what head coach Dabo Swinney could face on Sept. 11, the day after the Georgia Tech game—a game I am convinced the Tigers will lose (unless the Jackets turn the ball over)—the day Clemson's season really starts.

The Tigers will be 0-1 in conference play and still in control of their own destiny. However, a national TV audience will have witnessed the loss and Clemson fans will begin to file numerous complaints. I suspect the first complaint will be that Swinney started the wrong quarterback. 

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The next comment will be that Clemson hired the wrong man and that nothing has changed.

I suspect we will also hear how soft the team is. Every Clemson fan will have a theory and complaint about the loss. 

Because the game was on a Thursday, ESPN will be showing the highlights all day Friday and the game will be a topic for discussion on Saturday.

The salt will be rubbed in and it will sting.

If the Clemson coaching staff and the team itself can ignore the criticism and focus on Boston College nine days later, they should be fine (after all, if they beat BC, Maryland, and Wake Forest, they'll enter the Miami game 3-1 in conference play and in a good position to win the division).

But, this is an inexperienced team without a veteran coach.  Moving on after the Georgia Tech loss could prove difficult. For a young coach and three young quarterbacks, the hardest hurdle to jump this year could be the Clemson fans.


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