To say it has been mention that Clemson is playing one of the more difficult schedules in school history a couple of times would be an extreme under exaggeration. Fastly catching to the schedule quotes is talk about the number of younger players seeing action. It is now four games into the season, and this talk should have been silenced before Texas A&M.
The schedule is not going to change. When you pull out your wallet schedules, you are not going to say well scratch off NC State and Georgia Tech, we get Maine and North Dakota St at home instead. The talk of about how difficult the schedule is almost becoming an excuse. Next year the coaches will not say we are 3-0, because we coasted by Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech, and Temple.
For the most part, this team and the fans have not made excuses about the schedule. The schedule has come up every week at head coach Tommy Bowden’s press conference. It has been lightly reiterated by the coordinators. In Coach Bowden’s defense, he does not pick the questions, he only answers them, and for the record no one from this site has asked a schedule question since August. However, this team needs to move forward, and the only way to do that is worry about what you can control.
I have no problem with Coach Bowden stating facts. The facts are Clemson has played three top 25 caliber teams in their first four games, and they have shown they can compete and win in all four games. What should be focused on more is what this team will do stay at this level the rest of the season.
The players have been focused each week, but three of the four games have been at home. Now, the team will travel to Winston-Salem. This leads to second most popular saying, “We are playing so many freshmen and players who do not have a lot of experience.”
After four games, the rotation is pretty much set on both sides of the ball. Occasionally, you will see a player continue to work extremely hard and make a late impact like Charles Bennett did in 2003. The focus needs to be on making these players better each week.
The same freshmen that were counted on to play in the first four games will see significant playing time the rest of the season. I am not accusing the staff of a lack of effort by no means, because I know the effort is there. At the same time, you will know when the coaches are fully confident in these players, when they stop discussing how young they are.
When Justin Miller started as a freshman, there was no talk about starting a true freshman corner. Miller made plays and earned the confidence of the staff. The young players that are playing have played well, but there continues to be missed assignments each week. The focus now is on limiting the mistakes each week.
There is a clear increase in talent with Clemson this season. It is shown by the fact that they have been able to play young players and make mistakes against a difficult schedule. If the focus remains on what can be done, this team has a chance to really improve and make some noise, but if the focus remains on how difficult the schedule is, this team is not getting over the hump.