The following is the latest post on Mickey Plyler's blog. Plyler updates his blog at least once every weekday and it can be found on TigerNet at http://www.tigernet.com/blogs/plyler/ or on the right side of the front page of TigerNet.
In the first game of the 1986 football season Clemson was upset by Virginia Tech in Death Valley. The Hokies blocked a punt and won 20-14 on a hot September day.
The following week the Tigers took the short trip down to Athens, GA to take on the 14th-ranked Bulldogs. Usually the Clemson-Georgia game was a defensive struggle where turnovers and field goals were the deciding factor but this one was different. The two teams raced up and down the field for a 21-21 halftime tie. The defenses tightened up but the teams entered the last five minutes tied at 28-28.
Late in the fourth quarter Georgia was driving for the go ahead touchdown but their quarterback James Jackson fumbled around the Clemson 20-yard line.
So the Tigers took over with about two minutes to go and a tie seemed like the likely outcome but Rodney Williams led a beautiful drive where he kept getting the ball to Terrence Flagler. That drive allowed the Tigers to line up for an attempt at a game-winning field goal. What followed was one of the greatest plays in Clemson football history. David Treadwell hit a walk-off field goal and the Tigers left Sanford Stadium with a 31-28 upset of the Dawgs.
After the game Clemson head coach Danny Ford met with the media and he told them what he told his team earlier in the week. Ford said the Georgia game presented his team with a great opportunity. Ford said his team was coming off a loss to Virginia Tech and the Georgia game came a great time because the Tigers had no time to sit around and pout. He convinced his team they could win in Athens and the team had the motto of “I can. I want to. And I see a GREAT OPPORTUNITY!”
This weekend the Tigers are not coming off of a loss but the situation can be somewhat similar. Saturday night’s game in Auburn should be looked at as an opportunity…a great opportunity.
Clemson has little to lose Saturday. They are the underdogs. They are playing on the road. Little is expected from them on the national scene.
The only thing a loss really means is that Clemson’s national title hopes are gone but that is such a tremendous long shot anyway.
If Clemson loses Saturday night, it can still accomplish every one of its goals. This team can still win the Atlantic Division. It can still win the ACC. It can still win the state championship. It can still get to a BCS bowl and it can still win a bowl. A loss costs Clemson very little.
However, a win means little to most of those goals. I guess a win means the Tigers could gain confidence which would help with the rest of the season. I guess a win might help the Tigers get into a BCS game just in case they did not win the ACC but still had a 10-win type season.
So really what is this great opportunity?
I have confidence that Dabo will get this football program where most of us want it but a win Saturday night might accelerate that process.
A win at Auburn would get people’s attention.
It would mean the Tigers would enter the polls.
A Clemson win would put this team at 3-0 but would answer the questions about the scheduling of North Texas and Presbyterian.
Clemson would be 3-0 for just the sixth time since 1960.
A win would mean respect for this program. I could not care less about the ACC’s reputation, but I guess that would matter to some.
A win would help recruiting both in the short-term and the long-term.
A win would help give Dabo credibility and would be big for his status back in his home state.
Clemson winning on the road may make it easier to win future road games this year in Chapel Hill, Chestnut Hill, Tallahassee and Winston-Salem.
But more than anything else it would it accelerate the building of this program. A win over Auburn on the road would add instant credibility to this team and program.
The real beauty of the schedule also comes next week. Clemson gets a bye week next which is big win or lose.
If Clemson loses to Auburn, the Tigers can regroup and get ready to defend their Atlantic Division title when Miami rolls into town in two weeks.
If the Tigers win at Auburn, Clemson will have an extra week to prepare for the Hurricanes and come down from an emotional high of a win at Auburn.
Clemson is just 11-33-2 against Auburn including a 2-21 mark in Auburn. Clemson has lost 13 in a row to Auburn and has not beaten Auburn since 1951. Clemson has not won at Auburn since 1905. But I don’t want to win for history. I want to win for this team and this program. I want this team to be able to put their mark on this program. I want to accelerate the building of this program.
So Clemson can enter Saturday night’s game by looking at this game a great opportunity. The pressure is on the other Tigers. Our Tigers can enter Jordan-Hare loose as a goose and play with no pressure.
Maybe the Tigers can steal a motto from this week 24 years ago. “I can. I want to. And I see a GREAT OPPORTUNITY!”