Folks are starting to receive their Clemson tickets in the mail this week, and the excitement of college football is nearly upon us. If you didn’t see my last blog post, I previewed the Clemson football season and gave my predictions. There’s more to come with another Clemson football preview, a UGA football preview, and here guest blogger, Mark Gordon (Clemson ’10), shares his thoughts on some of the keys to success for this season in Clemson football.
Thanks for contributing Gordon!
I’m not going to insult you here. You all know that for Clemson to win, Tajh Boyd has to take care of the ball. You all know Sammy Watkins has to repeat or even improve on his freshman year, and you all know that Andre Ellington has to establish himself on the ground, and stay healthy. I’m not going to give you a classic Chris Berman analysis of “The Tigers won this football game because they scored more points than the other team!”
After picking apart every single game and going over every single position, there are two keys components and four unsung impact players that need to perform for Clemson to repeat as 2012 ACC Champions.
Road to the Repeat
#1 – Dabo Swinney needs to be more than just a motivator.
Nobody with a brain in their head can question Dabo Swinney’s motivational skills or his recruiting prowess over the last three years. However, in my opinion, those two components have overshadowed the fact that he has made some very questionable in-game decisions during those years. If Clemson wants to succeed, Clemson cannot afford to give any team a glimpse of hope with mistakes made by coach Swinney’s in game management.
#2 – Avoid the TRAP game!
After looking at the schedule over and over again and compiling eight different season outcomes, I came to the shocking realization that in three of those eight scenarios I had the Tigers losing at Boston College. Yes, Clemson has always been a victim of the traps and let downs and this year has a huge one in a trip to Chestnut Hill (a Clemson house of horrors) followed by a game at home vs. Georgia Tech. Clemson should easily win both games, but with anything less than 100% focus and preparation, a young Tiger team could easily falter.
2012 Unsung Hero Watch List
#1 – Dalton Freeman, Center
We all know how good Dalton Freeman is. I personally soiled myself when I heard that he might test the waters in the 2012 NFL Draft. Despite his obvious talent, I have him on this list for his leadership and teaching role. Freeman has the unenviable task of mentoring a line full of first time starters, including Tyler Shatley who just switched over to the offensive side of the ball. The Graduate Student center will have to be the anchor of the O-line and a mentor to the starters if the Tigers want to have any chance on the ground this year.
#2 – Bradley Pinion, Punter
What? A punter? Absolutely a punter! While he may have to prove himself ahead of firecracker Spencer Benton, Tiger fans have been spoiled in the fact that they have had one of the best punters in the NCAA in Dawson Zimmerman for the past few seasons. Pinion’s big leg and his ability to switch field position will help a young Tiger defense who will need every advantage they can get.
#3 – Corico Wright (Formerly Hawkins), Middle Linebacker
With a new defensive line, I struggle to see Clemson’s first line of defense stopping the run. That leaves the linebackers, lead by Wright, to be a key part in the run defense this year.
#4 – Brandon Ford, Tight End
There is only one thing you can say to someone replacing Dwayne Allen, good luck! However, I am expecting good things out of Ford. He has good route running ability and will be called upon to open up the field and give Boyd a solid check down option.
I would like to conclude this brief analysis by saying that last year is last year. The shock factor is gone. People know what they are going to see with Tajh Boyd airing it out to a streaking Sammy Watkins in Chad Morris’ freakishly fast offense. This isn’t news to any fan, and not news to any opponent. For Clemson to repeat as champions, it’s going to take a joint team character effort, and a new group of surprises to take center stage in 2012.
Thank you for reading. If you’re interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me via twitter or in the comments below.
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