Last December our occasional columnist Brant Branham laid out the challenge facing the Clemson University football program at the close of the 2012 regular season.
“After absorbing a fourth straight loss to arch rival and up-and-coming SEC power South Carolina – Clemson’s next two games come against perennial SEC bullies LSU and Georgia,” Branham wrote. “If you’re coach (Dabo) Swinney and the fourteenth-ranked Tigers – what more could you ask for?”
Indeed … and what more could Clemson do to answer the challenge? The Tigers defeated LSU in last year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl … and then defeated Georgia in their 2013 season opener. They also won a defensive-minded game on the road last Thursday against North Carolina State – which dealt then-No. 7 Clemson a stunning upset the last time the Tigers ventured into Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C.
Some view the Tigers 26-14 win over the Wolfpack as lucky (ahem, this play). Others say the narrower-than-expected margin of victory shows the Tigers don’t deserve their lofty No. 3 national ranking.
Still others see Clemson’s win over N.C. State as evidence of a multi-dimensionality (take your time with that word, Tiger fans) the program has lacked in recent years.
“Clemson is not all about tons of points and offensive gimmicks. In fact, the Tigers are not yet producing at the same levels offensively as they have the last two years,” writes ESPN’s Andrea Adelson. “Where they have made strides this season is on defense. That group allowed Clemson to win the NC State game. Again, that is something that may not have been said about this team two years ago.”
Ya think? Hmmmm … we wonder why.
“If Clemson continues to pair a strong defense with its already strong offense, perhaps all the misconceptions will crumble once and for all,” Adelson concludes.
That’s accurate. If the Tigers’ defense – bolstered by several years of exceptionally strong recruiting classes – continues to progress at its current pace, then Clemson will be a legitimate national championship contender.
Two major hurdles await coordinator Brent Venables’ unit – an October 19 home game against Florida State and superfrosh Jameis Winston and a November 30 road trip to Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., where the Tigers will face their new nemesis Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. The Florida State game might as well be for the ACC championship, while the South Carolina game could determine whether the Tigers get a shot to play for the national title.
Having passed two major tests (LSU and Georgia), Clemson must now pass two more if it wants a chance to bring home the school’s first national title in 32 years.
Can they do it?
Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our comments section below …
You can bring up the West Virginia thing all you want. Clemson is still ranked number 3.
Although I was an English major at ‘Bama, I comprehend basic addition and subtraction better than most dirtpeckers.
By my ciphering 70-33 = 37 point loss. That brings to mind another notable score: 63-17 = 46 point win.
In today’s vernacular, I’m just sayin’……
Another one for you. 2010 SEC championship game. 56-17= 39 point loss.
They have a solid team, so they have a good shot at it.
Palmering (as in Jesse Palmer of ABC/ESPN and the Bachelor) – (verb) 1. The act of repeatedly disrespecting a team, coaching staff, and entire fan-base with blatantly biased statements over an event which happened “just two years ago”; 2. Simultaneously, inexcusably losing respect from peers, colleagues, and strangers alike. 3. Acting like a total douche-bag. 4. Over use of the word Clemsoning
Jesse Palmer is an ABC/ESPN sports analyst and former contestant on the Bachelor. He constantly brings up the term Clemsoning even though Clemson’s football team hasn’t “pulled a Clemson” in years.
“Quit your Palmering, Clemson has beaten four top 25 SEC teams in the last two years; I don’t see them Clemsoning ever again. This is a different Clemson football team.”
1. Being universally disliked and totally inept at one’s job, yet still hold a prominent and public position. 2. To be inexplicably successful despite obvious lack of intelligence, talent, and public goodwill.
Jesse Palmer (Former Florida quarterback and Bachelor contestant)’s position as an ESPN analyst, despite total ineptitude and near universal dislike by sports fans was the catalyst for this term.
After inheriting the family business, Johnny really palmered, spending most of his time goofing off and contributing little to the company, much to the chagrin of the shareholders.
Nickleback spent years palmering their way to the top of the charts.
And how many years has it been since South Carolina’s last national championship in football?
Clemson. It’s new for Boise State.
Back when I became a Clemson fan, as a kid in the early and mid-80s, the Tigers had the kind of defenses that made you not mind a three-and-out by their offense, because the defense was punishing and had a good chance to force a turnover and even score. They were just brutal.
I’m starting to see flashes of that again, and with some discipline and consistency, this unit can be monsters. The defensive line is getting stronger every week and really gave Georgia’s veteran O-line fits in the opener. Mistakes and sloppy play in the secondary has hurt, but Clemson stopped Georgia six straight drives to preserve a convincing win. When the offense has struggled, it’s been when it can’t stay on the field long enough to get momentum, so a great defense is key to Clemson running 90+ plays a game, which they need to do.
During the National Championship season (take your time with that concept, Gamecock fans), a ground-oriented option offense that posted a 10-8 win over UNC that year, laid 82 points on Wake Forest. Defense made that happen.
It was during the Ken Hatfield era, and particularly the Tommy Bowden era, that Clemson became known as a gimmicky team without a lot of physical substance; but that was a new and troubling development for Tiger fans, and not something that has hung around the Tigers’ necks like 100 years of .500 football.
That said, only fans of a program that has found its feet in the last five or six years have so little perspective that they believe choking in big games and relying on flashy gimmick offenses should be called “Clemsoning.”
Remind me again about Bowden’s record vs Carl’s Jr.
Brant Branham? You mean Brant Branham of the Myrtle Beach Mafia? Or another one?
All Clemsux fans are suddenly History majors. I know one SEC team that’s beaten Datboy’s Tiggers four straight. Here kitty kitty, come to papa.
Do it twice in nine years and then crow.
Multidimensional is not hyphenated.