Confident and rested football team ready to see rest of story unfold
|Monday, October 11, 2021, 8:00 AM- -|
Now, the rest of the story can be told.
The story of the Clemson season so far has been about injuries, about inconsistency on offense, and about second-guessing and griping and the usual back-and-forth that comes with unhappy fans. But that part of the story is over, complete, and we get to see how the rest of it unfolds starting Friday at Syracuse.
The open date happened at a good time for a Clemson team beat up after just five games. Already out for the season is defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, with fellow D-line starter Tyler Davis also missing significant time, and a host of other players have battled an unusual number of bumps and bruises. The good news? The Tigers should be relatively healthy for the Friday game, and we’ve heard that running back Will Shipley is off his crutches. There still isn’t a timetable for his return, but it sounds like he’s making significant progress.
After spending the early part of last week working on fundamentals, the team broke practice and many of the players headed in different directions to spend some time away from football, away from school, and away from the football complex. Many don’t understand, and I have to be reminded, that many of these players haven’t had much of a break since late May.
As the players made their way back into the facility, I received a text that said the break was good for everybody, and that players came back not feeling any pressure. That stuck with me…not feeling the pressure? I texted that back and the response was blunt – the media has given up on this team, many fans have given up on them, and they don’t control their own destiny. The hope is that now this team will go out and have fun and play the way its capable of playing.
I’ve been told by more than one supporter that they are already clearing their early December calendar because there will no trip to the ACC Championship. Others have said that unless something strange happens, there will be no bowl trip this year, no matter the location. The thinking is that everyone has spent so much money over the last six years on multiple trips that this is a chance to regroup and spend Christmas at home and, even if it’s a New Years Day bowl game, to watch the postseason from the couch.
I am sure that those people don’t speak for everybody, and there are those (many that I know) that would follow the Tigers no matter the destination. It’s just interesting hear people who have already, in their own way, given up.
But if this past Saturday showed us anything, it’s that this season is unlike any other in recent memory. A 3-2 Texas A&M team beats mighty Alabama. Texas blows a 21-point lead and loses, again, to Oklahoma. And the Sooners played a freshman backup quarterback and now have a quarterback controversy on their hands. Iowa and Penn State duked it out in a Big Ten thriller. Ohio State looks to be back in synch, but it was against Maryland, so who knows how much that means.
An AAC team (Cincinnati) is ranked third and unbeaten. Kentucky doesn’t look great but they’re winning. Wake Forest gives up a bajillion yards to a slow Syracuse quarterback and still stays unbeaten. Michigan is finding some magic, but this is Jim Harbaugh, they are gonna lose a few times. NC State is still the team that lost to Miss. St. in ugly fashion and almost lost to La. Tech. They still have road games at Miami and Boston College and Florida State and Wake Forest, and you gotta figure they will lose two somewhere in there.
In other words, as ugly as it’s been, as bad as the offense has been — this team can still win the division and can still play for the ACC Championship. College football analyst Roddy Jones said Sunday that despite what the metrics and the computers say, Clemson is still the favorite to win the ACC.
That won’t matter if the quarterback doesn’t play better, if the wide receivers don’t play better, and the playbook doesn’t open up a bit. But there is still confidence in Dabo Swinney’s building, and the rest of the story hasn’t been told.
The first chapter starts Friday night in the Carrier Dome.