Tiger Source Preview: State of the Program

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The Tigers are 1-3 and some fans are panicking. Some concerns are legit but
don't complain for the sake of complaining. Let us understand where this
program is, why it is here and where it is headed. In my opinion there are
two reasons Clemson is having trouble this year and both go back three or
four years.

Like every team in the country, this team has weaknesses. This offensive
line should not have to play a true freshman and former walk-ons. If you
want to complain about this you have every right to. This is a legitimate
gripe. In previous years, the staff should have done a better job of recruiting
offensive linemen. The staff missed on Alex Barron (FSU), Eric Broe (FSU),
Russ Tanner (UGA), Chase Page (NC), Mario Henderson (FSU), Kyle Wallace
(GT), Josh Brock (UGA), Sean Young (TN), Eric Young (TN), Lance Butler (FL),
Chris White (SC) and Jabari Levey (SC). That is at least 12 guys that one
or two could have made a difference. The staff did not have enough backup
plan B guys on the offensive line.

The other major argument that holds water to me is the entire staff has
had recruiting deficiencies among their ranks. There are a couple of
coaches that still have not recruited well on this staff. Two or three guys
should not have to sign as many players as they have had to in recent years.
Bowden still has a couple of weak recruiters on this staff and that needs
to be addressed. That is not fair to Clemson University, the football
program, their fans or the other members of the staff. You are only as
strong as your weakest link and the weak links have held this program back.

The other concerns should be minor. Everyone has their theories. Mine
include more of a commitment to the running game. This would hold
linebackers longer and keep them from getting deeper drops into pass
coverage. It would also slow the pass rush. Others blame Mike O'Cain's
scheme, Brad Scott's coaching or even Charlie Whitehurst himself. Everyone
is entitled to their opinions, but the fact is that the Tigers should have
recruited more offensive linemen three and four years ago. The other
problems can be fixed soon.

With those things said lets look at the future. The offensive and defensive
lines have been addressed with the last two classes and the upcoming class.
Assuming Corey Lambert, Jacquez McKissick, Phillip Merling and Durrell
Barry make it back to Clemson and the current commitments hold up, Clemson
will have 19 offensive linemen on scholarship. Fourteen of those 19 will be
freshmen or sophomores. The numbers will be up but the talent level will be
also. Cedric Johnson chose Clemson over ECU. Tommy Sharpe and Jesse
Pickens are walk-ons. Nathan Bennett chose Clemson over Mississippi State.
Meanwhile look at the last two classes. Richardson would have tons of
offers if he came back. Dukes had a UGA offer, Akeem Robinson chose Clemson
over Florida, Lambert had tons of offers and the four current commitments
have big-time offers. The quality and quantity have been improved and the
results are coming.

On the defensive front Chris McDuffie, Dorrel Scott, Rashaad Jackson and McKissick are upgrades
in the talent level. The results will show in future years in this unit

I hear fans complain about the coaching position changes and they might be
right about that, but it is too early to tell. There are other issues that have
shown up and more will arrive in the future. However, David Blackwell
decided to commit to more big bodies when he arrived at Clemson and this
program will benefit.

Again, the short-term future may look difficult. However, I still maintain
this program is on solid footing and the results from the hard work of
several members of this staff will shine.

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