Commentary: Another Round of the What If Game


by - Correspondent -
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Remember a short time ago when we found ourselves playing the "what if" game?


You remember, watching the weekly results inside the ACC led us to begin to ask those questions again: What if Clemson beats Utah State and, in the process, finds some lost confidence? What if the offense gets going? What if the defense suddenly remembers how to tackle and stops the run?


And on and on and on.


It would be easy to dismiss such thoughts, chalking them up to any number of reasons - lack of realism, not enough sleep, etc.


But then you watch a Ralph Friedgen-coached Maryland offense eke out just over 170 yards of offense in two games - combined - and suddenly here you go again.


What if the Terps offensive troubles continue? What if Clemson beats Maryland for the first time since The Fridge took over? Could it be the first major step in another turnaround?


It's times like this you really want to wash out the cranium with a scouring pad.

Seriously now, who really thinks Clemson's defense can get a grip on an offensive system which has befuddled two different defensive coordinators over the last five years?


Five, you say? But Ralphie has only been the head turtle for three years.


True enough, but he also was offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech during Tommy Bowden's first two years at Clemson, and the Tigers couldn't stop Friedgen's offense then, either.


In fact, having watched Friedgen's system in operation enough times, I'm almost convinced Maryland was sandbagging the last two games in order to catch Clemson off guard this week at Death Valley. Now, we know the opposite is true, because the consecutive losses have the Terps nearly in as bad a bowl-eligibility bind as Clemson these days.


But struggles aside, knowing Friedgen's offense and the success he's had against the Tigers at two different schools, would it really surprise anyone if this were the week that Joel Statham suddenly looked like Joe Namath at quarterback?


The pre-1970 model Namath, of course.


At this point, almost nothing surprises us anymore. If Maryland came out in the wishbone, you'd likely find yourself in total agreement with the move.


Such has been the success level of The Fridge vs. Clemson.


But what if Statham doesn't look like Joe Namath? What if Maryland's offensive woes continue?


Why, Clemson could win that game and, at 3-4, take a modest two-game winning streak into the following week's matchup with North Carolina State?


And what if Reggie Herring's defense finally goes flat in Wolfpack land?


And so on, and so on, and so on.


It's almost enough to drive a columnist crazy.

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