2008 All Over Again?


  by - Radio Host - 2013-07-23 10:52:31.0
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2008 All Over Again?
Yesterday we found out that Clemson was picked to win the ACC Championship in the pre-season media poll for the first time since 2008.

The 2008 campaign started out with a pre-season top 10 ranking and lofty expectations. There was talk of Tommy Bowden's first ACC title and some had Clemson in a pre-season national title picture. Instead that season ended up with a 7-6 record and a new coach.

So for the first time since 2008 Clemson is getting national attention. Inevitably this team will be compared to the 2008 team and some will warn fans that a repeat is possible. However, this team is a lot different than the 2008 squad.

It is true that this team will face a top ten opponent to start the season, but remember Alabama was ranked 24th in the pre-season poll. I feel some under estimated Alabama because the Tide were coming off of a 7-6 season. At the time we had no idea Bama would climb to the nation's top ranking by November. No one will underestimate Georgia this year.

From the outside looking in, this team looks a lot different from 2008 in several other ways. First is a foundation that was laid over the past two seasons. The 2008 team was coming off of 9-4 and 8-5 seasons. The total of 17 wins did not include huge games.

This team has won 21 games the last two years. This team has been ranked in every poll since September of 2011 and played some huge football games including beating Auburn twice, Florida State, Virginia Tech three times and LSU in a bowl game. This team has two wins over top ten competition and I think that experience is a big difference.

Second, this team has already won a championship. Many players were around during the 2011 ACC Championship season. They have seen what it takes to win a championship.

The 2008 team entered with high expectations because of a great junior season from the quarterback Cullen Harper. The same can be said about this team, but Harper was coming off shoulder surgery and was nowhere near as effective in his senior year because of the injury. Heading into his senior year Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Sr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
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has not had injury issues.

I think a big difference between 2008 and 2013 is the staff. Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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and Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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might be the finest pair of coordinators in the country and this complete staff is an improvement from 2008.

Finally, this team is different because of leadership. Take nothing away from the 2008 team, but that team did not know how to respond to adversity. The Alabama loss was only the beginning. The losses to Maryland and Wake Forest were the disaster.

The 2008 season started with a fumble in the opening series and the team never recovered. Last year the first series of the bowl game started with a fumble and losing a star player and the team recovered. This program is mentally tougher than it was in 2008.

This team has had Chad Morris' sense of urgency the past two seasons. Two great runs in the last two seasons will help this team deal with high expectations. This team is better equipped to handle the pre-season lofty expectations.

Speaking of expectations, this is what you want in your program. I often hear people talk about what a burden expectations bring. However, when Florida State was at the top of the league and the Seminoles were the talk of the ACC Media Days and they embraced it. They didn't shy away from those expectations. That's what the program was about. They were good and they wanted everybody else to know they were good. This is what Alabama deals with every year now. This is where you should want to be.

In the old days the ACC had a caravan instead of media days. In other words, instead of one central location, the sports writers got on the bus and traveled across the conference. When the guys arrived at Clemson you could tell the Tigers were the talk of the ACC. Most of the years, Danny Ford had to deal with expectations in Clemson's glory days. I for one am glad those days are back. As far as I'm concerned, give me that burden every year.


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