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YOUR BALANCE
Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team
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Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 6, 2022, 11:25 AM

(Long post warning. For them who don't like reading, as ever, Twitter's thataway.)

One thing people always forget, particularly at the beginning of seasons, is that football is not a static game. Players are not chess pieces that remain the same throughout the season. They get better (or they lose confidence and heart and get worse), and they also get hurt. So seasons are a constant battle between development and attrition, and the best teams continue to develop and improve as they go along even as injuries (and player morale/confidence) often reduce their available roster.

Last year Clemson's roster was absolutely decimated by a plague-of-locusts number of injuries and, to put it politely, uncharacteristic confidence/composure issues among key personnel. (Particularly on offense.) Despite that, the coaching staff was able develop an effective (if not pretty!) approach, and win the final six games of the season and finish with another 10-win season. That was actually in many ways a really good coaching job, given the demon circumstances the team was faced with, and it definitely showed the character, morale, and startling depth of that Clemson team. (It actually strongly reminded me of that 2014 team, where Deshaun got hurt as a true frosh and Cole Stoudt struggled most of the season.) Despite the fact that 2021 was never going to be a banner year, as in 2014, last year's squad never quit and it's worth remembering we opened the season with a brutal, physical, trench-warfare 10-3 loss to eventual National Champs Georgia. Our D was so good we almost won that game despite how bad our O was executing. (And how bad it executed all year, in fact.)

The Portal means there's a ton of movement in college football nowadays, and a lot more talent moves up from lower divisions and moves around and finds starting gigs. Teams can't stockpile much anymore; IMHO this means a ton of teams are better, at least on opening day, in roster numbers 1-22 than they were in years past. If they've got a hole they can just hit the Portal and go get a guy. But IMHO the Portal also kills depth on these same teams and that's going to really bite as attrition hits and injuries and wear and tear pile up late on in seasons.

Watching FSU, Georgia Tech, most of the ACC teams, I was struck by how few players I knew on any of them, and how many new faces they all had on them. I was also struck by how little depth they had and how little they were rotating players.

The Portal has hurt us, granted. We've lost a lot of guys to the Portal, and brought almost none in. But in terms of offseason turnover compared to other squads, we've still lost shockingly little (just 19 guys since 2020, close to the lowest number in college football), and what I saw last night was, as usual, our roster goes easily 50-60 legit players-who-can-contribute-right-now deep. Again. The more college football has changed, the more Clemson has stayed in many ways the same.

Dabo's been a good recruiter, but in terms of blue chips Clemson has never raked in the volume SEC teams like Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, or Ohio State have. Far more than recruiting, Dabo's big edge has always been player development, his ability to build an extremely high number of productive, effective, engaged players who want to stay in the team. His ROI (or "hit rate", as the recruiting pundits label it), from the guys he signs remains the best in America...and it isn't close. In a lot of cases it's because Dabo doesn't give up on a guy and toss him into the Portal. KJ Henry, for instance, though his first four years, never at any point looked like a former 5-star and a Top-15-overall player in America; he assuredly did last night. The dude was unblockable last night and I can promise you NFL scouts were taking note.

And the team we see Week 1 is almost never close to being as good as the one we see at season's end. Historically, if you want to beat Dabo's Tigers, you want to play them in September or October. By November they're surging and by December the Tigers are a Death Machine.

I suspect that'll be particularly true again this year. I look out across college football and I see a lot more parity and talent among starting rosters...and a whole lot less depth. I see teams that are going to be 1-year wonders...and I see a lot of teams that are going to fade as the year goes on and attrition starts biting. The difference between GT's starters and reserves was like falling off a cliff. Clemson's walk-ons and reserves marched through them like they weren't there once Klubnik got under center.

But last night I saw a Clemson team that looked, well, like a startlingly typical Dabo team in September. Clunky on offense (seriously, when are we ever not clunky on offense in September?), but loaded, with 3-deep (or more) talent everywhere, and one that as usual looks like it was built to peak in December. We literally haven't changed, well, at all.

And I think that's a good thing. Especially given that the vast majority of our opponents are almost exactly 25-30 players deep, and half their roster are transfer mercenaries looking for greener grass or bigger NIL paydays. I do not see most of them being relevant in December. Clemson under Dabo was always more than a bit of a special and unique flower, with by far the best team culture in college football, and it may now be even more so because Dabo has so determinedly not changed with the times.

We aren't much like the teams we play. At all. We're still, well, Clemson. And maybe even more Clemson than we ever were. It'll be fascinating to see how that plays out as the season goes along, and that old battle between development and attrition affects college football.

I think we're maybe better built for that than we ever were.

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Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 6, 2022, 11:38 AM

That was extremely well written. Awesome post!

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Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 6, 2022, 11:41 AM

Truer words were never written...

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Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 6, 2022, 11:43 AM

Great post quozzel spot on!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2024 orange level member flag link military_tech thumb_downthumb_up

Been waiting on your always A-1 accessment Quozzel


Sep 6, 2022, 11:54 AM

and it didn't disappoint!

Wish the same mutual feelings happened when I see you on Politics Board, but hey..

we'll see if the football team improves & I know it will and we'll see eventually if my political beliefs will offer potential needed improvements for America vs yours.

Whatever, we both are Tiger Fans!

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Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 6, 2022, 11:57 AM

Excellent post, how a team transforms and changes through a season can tell the difference between a great coach and a great recruiter. I think Clemson will be fine and these are exciting days to watch.

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Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 6, 2022, 11:58 AM

Well said Q...as always. It blows my mind some people on this board can't see that even Tech's backups were ready to hit the showers by the time Cade came in last night. I'm encouraged by Cade's play sure but that's such a small sample size, how could anyone say he needs to be the man tomorrow. I for one thought the light came on for DJ in that 2nd quarter. Sure he made some mistakes reminiscent of last year but i saw improvement and as you stated typical September rust.
The D looked great but a couple things the coaches can nitpick. However, there were a few times D calls came in late with everyone was standing around and Tech was ready to snap. I was hoping that would be fixed from years past. As we know, good teams exploit that hitch.

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Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 6, 2022, 12:03 PM

Quozz deserves that can of Spam.

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Well said, buddy.


Sep 6, 2022, 12:00 PM

You should write for T’nets.

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Good analysis!


Sep 6, 2022, 10:23 PM

Go Tigers!

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All those words and we aren't firing anyone?!?!?


Sep 6, 2022, 10:53 PM

Looser ?

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Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 7, 2022, 1:02 AM

I have been trying to tell the Chicken Littles Dabo's game plan was very vanilla until GT forced his hand and then all hell broke loose. Monday's game was a small micrcosm of our upcoming season, start slow, get the bugs out even if it means changing qbs, and finish strong. Go Tigers!!!! Remember, Dabo always has a plan.

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Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 7, 2022, 1:59 AM

The Q has spoken and all is well!

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Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 7, 2022, 5:19 AM

Great post

Well said

Go Tigers

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Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 7, 2022, 6:00 AM

Truly a remarkable post, and much needed on T-net.

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Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 7, 2022, 6:16 AM

Thats why I like to play easier teams the first 2 games of the year.

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Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 7, 2022, 6:22 AM

Great read as always. If I’m honest I was hoping to hear your opinion of how the QB situation will play out. Nevertheless, enjoy your posts!

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Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 7, 2022, 6:32 AM

What a fantastic post, a refreshing perspective and reminder of what makes Clemson so special. Thank you.

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“This paradigm doesn’t leave enough room for complaining as a fan.”


Sep 7, 2022, 6:44 AM

Sincerely,
Tnet

Great poast, Q.

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GO TIGERS


Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 7, 2022, 7:21 AM

Nice post and some good points.

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Re: Big picture post: we look like a typical Dabo September team


Sep 7, 2022, 8:27 AM

This is so true, As far back as I can remember we start out looking pretty rough.

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