|Tuesday, December 2, 2014, 11:45 AM- -|
The excruciating five game losing streak to South Carolina could have meant a long off-season but
Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
View Full Profile found a way to give Clemson Nation hope each year.
In 2009, the regular season ended with the loss to Carolina, but Clemson won the Atlantic Division, played in the ACC title game for the first time and won a bowl game against Kentucky.
In 2011, the Tigers followed the loss to the Gamecocks with a win over Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game giving the Tigers its first ACC title since 1991.
After the 2012 loss, Clemson enjoyed a walk-off win over ninth ranked LSU.
Last season, Clemson beat seventh ranked Ohio State to give the Tigers its first win in a BCS bowl game.
This year the Tigers didn't win the division and won't be playing in Saturday's ACC title game in Charlotte and they may not win a bowl game, but fans were given hope for the future with a dominating performance against the arch rival this past weekend.
We saw Clemson dominate the Gamecocks in every aspect of the game and the feeling around the program is the rivalry has once again turned back in Clemson's favor.
You never know what a program will really look like nine months before next season's games will be played, but on paper I see reason for optimism in the rivalry. South Carolina will enter the season with major question marks at quarterback. The Gamecocks may lose Mike Davis to the NFL draft. I like Pharroh Cooper at wide receiver but I am not impressed with the rest of the unit. Jerrell Adams has been good at tight end but depth may be an issue there and the offensive line loses its two best players in Corey Robinson and A.J. Cann.
On defense the Gamecocks were awful in 2014 and lose J.T. Surratt, Brison Williams and Sharrod Golightly. I like Skai Moore and Jonathan Walton, but no one else on defense impressed me at any point this past season.
South Carolina is hoping to close strong in this recruiting class and answers could emerge on defense, but the schedule looks brutal next season and I think it could be a second straight long season in Columbia.
Meanwhile Clemson has reasons for optimism.
Deshaun WatsonDeshaun Watson
#4 6-3, 204
View Full Profile needs to stay healthy but has as much potential as any offensive player in the country next season.
The running game looked much better in the last half of the season when
Wayne GallmanWayne Gallman
RS Fr. Running Back
#9 6-1, 209
View Full Profile rushed for over 500 yards in the last five games of the season including 191 against the Gamecocks. Tyshon DyeTyshon Dye
RS Fr. Running Back
#23 5-11, 214
View Full Profile had 100 yards in the only full game he has played in his career. The Tigers also get back Zac BrooksZac Brooks
Jr. Running Back
#24 6-1, 199
View Full Profile , Adam ChoiceAdam Choice
Fr. Running Back
#26 5-10, 211
View Full Profile and C.J. DavidsonC.J. Davidson
RS Jr. Running Back
#32 5-10, 203
View Full Profile .
The Tigers return
Artavis ScottArtavis Scott
Fr. Wide Receiver
#3 5-11, 190
View Full Profile , Mike WilliamsMike Williams
So. Wide Receiver
#7 6-5, 208
View Full Profile and Charone PeakeCharone Peake
RS Jr. Wide Receiver
#19 6-3, 204
View Full Profile at wide receiver and add Ray Ray McCloud and Deon Cain next season.
The tight end position should be loaded with
Jordan LeggettJordan Leggett
So. Tight End
#16 6-5, 251
View Full Profile returning and future star Milan RichardMilan Richard
Fr. Tight End
#80 6-3, 243
View Full Profile coming off of a redshirt season.
The offensive line will miss
Kalon DavisKalon Davis
RS Sr. Offensive Guard
#67 6-5, 340
View Full Profile , Reid WebsterReid Webster
RS Sr. Offensive Tackle
#77 6-3, 300
View Full Profile and David BeasleyDavid Beasley
RS Sr. Offensive Guard
#68 6-4, 323
View Full Profile but both centers come back. Isaiah BattleIsaiah Battle
Jr. Offensive Tackle
#79 6-7, 285
View Full Profile , Joe GoreJoe Gore
RS Jr. Offensive Tackle
#73 6-5, 283
Lake Waccamaw, NC
View Full Profile , Tyrone CrowderTyrone Crowder
RS Fr. Offensive Guard
#55 6-2, 322
View Full Profile and Eric MacClain may be pushed by a terrific freshman class getting here in January.
Offensively, there is reason to like the running game with the emergence of Gallman and Dye. The passing game has talented wide outs like we experienced in the
Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Wide Receiver (2011 - 2013)
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL
View Full Profile , Nuke Hopkins and Martavis BryantMartavis Bryant
Wide Receiver (2011 - 2013)
#1 6-5, 200
Calhoun Falls, SC
View Full Profile days.
Defensively, big names will need to be replaced and I expect a step back from this year's unit which was the best in the country. But
D.J. ReaderD.J. Reader
Jr. Defensive Tackle
#48 6-2, 322
View Full Profile , Carlos WatkinsCarlos Watkins
RS So. Defensive Tackle
#94 6-3, 294
View Full Profile , Scott PaganoScott Pagano
RS Fr. Defensive Tackle
#56 6-4, 292
View Full Profile , Shaq LawsonShaq Lawson
So. Defensive End
#90 6-3, 269
View Full Profile , Kevin DoddKevin Dodd
RS So. Defensive End
#98 6-5, 275
View Full Profile , Ben BoulwareBen Boulware
So. Outside Linebacker
#10 5-11, 235
View Full Profile , BJ Goodson, Kellen JonesKellen Jones
RS Jr. Linebacker
#52 6-1, 233
View Full Profile , Korrin WigginsKorrin Wiggins
So. Defensive Back
#12 5-11, 190
View Full Profile , Travis BlanksTravis Blanks
#11 6-0, 210
View Full Profile , Jayron KearseJayron Kearse
#20 6-4, 215
Fort Myers, FL
View Full Profile , MacKensie AlexanderMacKensie Alexander
RS Fr. Cornerback
#2 5-11, 190
View Full Profile and TJ Green give the staff hope on defense.
This off-season will be different than the past five. Dominating your arch rival and Deshaun Watson have a way of making the off-season a lot brighter around here.
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