Clemson Tigers

Kings Of The ACC?

By: Kipp Branch news services

2022 Record: 11-3 overall, 9-0 in ACC

Head Coach: Dabo Swinney, 16th year: 161-39

How far Clemson goes in 2023 will depend on the QB position.

Cade Klubnik is now the man. A former 5-star recruit is in the spotlight now. Klubnik does not have to be a superstar he just needs to be productive.

Let us be honest Clemson fans you have become spoiled with the QB position. Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence will not suit up for the Tigers ever again.

Klubnik cannot fold under the pressure of trying to live up to standards in the position that may never be met again at Clemson. He played well in the ACC Championship game last season with 280 yards passing and passed for over three hundred yards in an Orange Bowl loss to Tennessee but had some growing pains in that contest.

Can he lead Clemson back to the College Football playoffs? Clemson has missed the playoffs for the last two seasons. The expectations now at Clemson are playoffs of bust.

Will Shipley is a great all-purpose running back with 1,182 yards and 15 TDs in 2022. He also caught thirty-eight passes.

Clemson always has good WR talent and a solid physical offensive line. Swinney has recruited great over the years.

On defense the secondary must improve. What separates Clemson from the rest of the ACC is what they produce along the defensive line. The combination of Ruke Orhorhoro and Tyler Davis might be the best in the country at defensive tackle.

I am hearing a lot of talk about how FSU has surpassed Clemson in the ACC. Well talent-wise that is not the case. Clemson has talent all over this roster and are the kings of the ACC until someone knocks them off the mountain top.

Schedule and my predictions:

9-4 * at Duke: Conference game opener for the Tigers on the road at Duke. Not important because Clemson will handle Duke 38-13 to go 1-0 on the season.

9-9 Charleston Southern: Home opener and CSU will be nothing more than a sacrificial lamb here. Clemson 49-7. 2-0

9-16 Florida Atlantic: Another beatdown at home for the Tigers. 55-10 and 3-0 on the season.

9-23 * Florida State: Ok FSU here is your chance to be the new kings of the ACC. There will be mega hype surrounding this one.

FSU will claim that they are a 1990’s version of the Seminoles, but at the end of the day you will be standing there watching Clemson touch that rock and run down that hill and the realization will set in that you are not there yet. Clemson wins 24-17. 4-0 on the season. Memorial Stadium will be rocking.

9-30 * at Syracuse: Upset alert for the Tigers. Be careful here. Clemson 24-21. 5-0.

10-7 * Wake Forest: Wake should be a bowl team but that will not matter. Clemson 34-20. 6-0.

10-21 * at Miami (Fla.): Tigers enter the teeth of their schedule. Could they fall here?

The pundits will try to create a narrative by predicting it, but it will not happen. 27-17. 7-0.

10-28 * at NC State: This one has me worried if I am a Clemson fan. 17-14 win. 8-0.

11-4 Notre Dame: After what happened last year in South Bend this one is circled on the Clemson schedule. Clemson wins big 34-17. 9-0

11-11 * Georgia Tech: Jackets are still rebuilding. Clemson 35-13. 10-0.

11-18 * North Carolina: Carolina is horrible on defense. Clemson wins 48-35. 11-0.

11-25 at South Carolina: The Gamecocks now have confidence in this series. I am calling for the upset. South Carolina wins 21-17. Clemson finishes the regular season at 11-1. The loss will not affect Clemson’s playoff chances, as the Tigers win another ACC title the following week.


* – ACC regular-season game.


A 12-1 Clemson gets in the College Football Playoff as the ACC champion along with Georgia, Michigan, and Texas or USC.

Claw Sharpening

By: Garrison Ryfun news services

At the end of the 2022 season, things seemed to be trending downward for the Clemson Tigers. After a 31-14 Orange Bowl loss to Tennessee, which never looked all that competitive, there were real questions about the future of the program.

The beginning of this perceived decline started with the 2020 season when Jeff Scott, one of Dabo’s Co-Offensive Coordinators, took the head coaching job at the University of South Florida.

This move helped Tony Elliot become the singular Offensive Coordinator for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Going into the 2022 season, Dabo lost both his stalwart defensive coordinator in Brent Venables and offensive coordinator, Tony Elliot to head coaching vacancies at Oklahoma and Virginia respectively.

Instead of going out and hiring big name coordinators, Dabo decided to try to keep continuity within the program and promoted from within for both positions; promoting Brandon Streeter from Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach to the Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach role, and on the defensive side promoting Wes Goodwin to Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers and Mickey Conn to Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties.

In terms of total offense, Streeters coordinating would be seen as an improvement over Tony Elliot’s 2021 efforts, as Clemson went from the 99th total offense to the 48th in 2022.

Though Streeter did seem to help elevate the offense from season to season, 48th in the country is still well below the standard for a Clemson offense in the modern era.

The blame for their offensive struggles, perception wise, ultimately rested on Streeter’s scheme, which was similar to Elliot’s and Scott’s.

Firing Streeter was not an easy move for Dabo to make. He was a former player at the university and was a longtime assistant under Dabo, coaching at the school for six years before he became the offensive coordinator.

He also was a big part of the success Clemson had at quarterback, helping to develop Deshaun Watson and recruit and develop Trevor Lawrence. The two quarterbacks who led Clemson to national titles in 2016 and 2018.

The firing of Brandon Streeter meant that Clemson had to hit on a big-time candidate for the offensive coordinator position. Enter TCU offensive coordinator Garrett Riley and former Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott.

In Garrett Riley’s three years of being an offensive coordinator, he has never been outside of the top 15 in points per game and has only been outside of the top 15 once for total offense.

Even in the context of an embarrassing 65-7 loss against Georgia, the problem for Riley’s offense was not the scheme.

Now entering Clemson, Riley has a better talent pool to work with that can match a more physical SEC team if they make the playoffs.

Riley will have a chance to not only coach better talent, but also recruit better talent at Clemson.

In a time when some were starting to perceive Dabo as losing his edge, he made an important move that changed the trajectory of the program before it was too late.

The move of bringing in Garrett Riley is an important one, but bringing in Jeff Scott to learn underneath him is the more underrated aspect of this whole deal.

This is Dabo positioning himself to not only revolutionize his offense, but be able to keep continuity on that front when Riley eventually takes a head coaching position elsewhere.

This kind of move is one that Clemson needed going into a divisonless 2023 in the ACC, with a rising Florida State team, and others, trying to knock them off their throne.

Clawing Back

By: Joe Delaney news services

Well, it looks like these Tigers are going to have to rebound this year and we ain’t talkin’ basketball.

After a lackluster 2021 season that saw these Tigers slide out of the national picture and into ACC oblivion, these guys definitely have something to prove.

After an opening game loss to the eventual National Champion Georgia Bulldogs, the Tigers let two games slip away in the ACC and finished with 10-3 record.

While most programs would be happy with double digit wins. Most programs ain’t Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers.

Injuries and poor production at quarterback were the main reasons for the letdown. You can have 5 stars next to your name but if you throw more INTERCEPTIONS than TDs over the season with a schedule that includes South Carolina State and Connecticut then you’re not cutting it at Clemson.

DJ Uiagalelei came to Clemson as one of the most heralded QBs in the country. Last year his QB rating was in the toilet and he passed for an average of 172.8 yards per game with a 55.6% completion rate. Add in 9 touchdown passes for the whole year and well, you get the idea.

So, what do you do when your 5-star struggles? Well, Dabo just went and got another 5 star in Cade Klubnik out of Texas.

Klubnik is one of the top players in the country, Cade may be playing a little earlier than expected if DJ doesn’t cut the mustard starting against the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta in game one. Klubnik competed in the spring and may give DJ a run for his money. QB play will again determine how the Tigers finish nationally.

If the QB play can step up the offense could be very good. Running back Will Shipley leads a talented backfield that has speed and depth. Expect to see Shipley on Sundays in a couple of years.

The receivers are solid with Joseph Ngata and EJ Williams, although depth could be an issue there.

The offensive line should be much improved with four returning starters. Once again this should be a fine offensive team but the key is going to be the QB play.

On the defensive side of the ball then Tigers will be flat loaded again. Wanna know who Clemson’s defensive line reminds me of this year? Georgia’s from last year!

The trio of Myles Murphy, Bryan Bresee, and Xavier Thomas are all studs and will be playing on Sunday.

KJ Henry and Tyler Davis aren’t far behind. This is one of the top front fours in all of college football.

The LB’s will be young and very talented with Trenton Simpson leading the way.

The DB’s will be steady at FS and SS while both corners will have to be replaced. This defense could be one of Clemson’s best and that’s saying a lot.

The defensive front should give the new LB’s and Corners some time to grow and by the time the Tigers roll into Touchdown Jesus territory in early November, these guys could be scary.

On special teams BT Potter returns at PK and should also handle kickoffs and punts. He will be a busy man.

The Tigers and Dabo Swinney have built a juggernaut and just aren’t used to losing three games in a season.

Now, the defensive and offensive coordinators have to be replaced and there are some questions about how that will affect the team.  Still this team is loaded with talent.

The schedule is tough with the usual ACC teams and a trip to Notre Dame and a resurgent South Carolina in Death Valley.

If the tigers can roll into South Bend undefeated, we will know that the QB issue is A-OK and these big bad cats have clawed their way back.

Should be a very entertaining year for the Tigers, one way or the other!

Clemson Spring

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

Dabo Swinney has elevated Clemson into one of the most elite programs in the nation.

The Tigers seemed to make the College Football Playoff every season. After quarterback Trevor Lawrence was drafted #1 in the 2021 NFL Draft, we still thought they would be a top-5 team.

He was replaced by five-star QB D.J. Uiagalelei. The Tigers recruit so well they just reload rather than rebuild. Unfortunately, that was not the case last year. They were 10 – 3 but that’s not good enough for Clemson.

Uiagalelei is coming off a sophomore season that saw him rank at or near the bottom of most statistical categories in the ACC, throwing more interceptions (10) than touchdown passes (9). It was a season that saw the quarterback have his share of struggles, most notably with accuracy, as Uiagalelei completed just 56% of his passes.

D.J. has lost weight since last season and hopefully that will help him move quicker. The Spring Game was April 9th so we did see some improvement on his footwork, decision making and releasing the ball quicker.

He still had issues with his accuracy, throwing several off-target passes. He completed 17-of-36 passes for 175 yards and an interception. To be fair, there were multiple dropped passes.

The five-star freshman from Texas, Cade Klubnik completed 15-of-23 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. Klubnik was ranked the number one quarterback in the country in the last recruiting cycle.

“DJ is definitely our starter,” Swinney said. “He has had a great spring. He has not done anything to not be the starter.”

It might be unfair to believe D.J. would drastically improve after 15 practices. He also played behind an offensive line that was missing several starters in the Spring Game. Clemson has a talented defensive line, so they had a tough time.

This does look like a possible quarterback controversy brewing once the season starts. Swinney does feel like he can win with both quarterbacks.

“It is not often you can say that, but I have seen enough from both of those guys to know that,” Swinney said. “So, it is a good situation.”

Running back Will Shipley was really the only bright spot on offense last season. He rushed for 739 yards, 11 touchdowns and averaged 5 yards per carry. He also had 16 catches for 116 yards. Shipley and the number 2 back Kobe Pace had offseason procedures, so they did not play in the Spring Game.

The only other scholarship running back on the roster was Phil Mafah from Grayson (GA).

“I thought it would allow me to just show that I could be the guy out there,” Mafah said. “I could do it just like they could, and they just allowed me to show off what I could do and help bring up the others.”

Position coach C.J. Spiller and offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter said Mafah has earned more carries for the 2022 season. Now it looks like the Tigers will have three reliable backs next season.

The final score of the Spring Game was White beat Orange 15 – 7.

The All-Time List

By: Robert Craft news services

Over the last 20 years, it has become easier to discuss the top five college football teams of the new millennia.

It’s a great time for debates. College football fans are very passionate and love to argue about their favorite teams!

I measured the teams by their on-field dominance, their overall talent level and the success on the gridiron.

Ranking these teams during the past 20 years brought back a lot of memories.

  1. University of Florida 2008:The Gators had a 13-1 record, averaged 43.6 points per game, allowed 12.9 points per game.

The Gators’ defense was led by Consensus All-Americans Brandon Spikes and Joe Haden. Carlos Dunlap and Janoris Jenkins were 1st round draft choices in the NFL.

The offense was led by 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow (2008 Maxwell Award, Manning Award and Wuerffel Trophy) and 2nd team All American Percy Harvin.

The key moment for Florida, was a one point loss to Ole Miss at home. In the post-game press conference, Tebow delivered his famous “Promise Speech”. Love him or hate him, Tebow proved to be one of the best and inspirational college football players in the last 20 years.

Tebow kept his promise! No team came closer than 10 points to the Gators the rest of the season. Florida routed No. 8 Georgia 49-10, pummeled No. 24 South Carolina 56-6 and destroyed No. 23 FSU 45-15.

The 2009 FedEx BCS National Championship Game, Florida defeated NO. 1 Oklahoma 24-14.

  1. Clemson 2016: I think the 2016 Clemson team was Dabo Swinney’s best.

The Tigers finished 14-1, the loss coming to Pitt. The Tigers were led by Deshaun Watson, one of the best college football players never to win a Heisman.

Watson torched Alabama in the postseason to the point where Nick Saban admitted they had no answer for him.

Watson shattered Clemson’s history books with 5,222 total yards from scrimmage and 50 touchdowns (41 passing and nine rushing).

In an instinct classic, Clemson and Alabama came down to the final seconds to decide the winner. Watson found Hunter Renfrow on a rub route to seal the deal and Clemson claimed their first national championship since 1981.

  1. LSU 2019: Just last year many were crowning the Tiger team the greatest of all time, after finishing the season 15-0.

What a truly impressive resume for the Tigers players: Joe Burrow (Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, Sporting News Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Manning Award, Broyles Award and SEC Offensive Player of the Year), Ja’Marr Chase (Biletnikoff Award), Grant Delpit (Jim Thorpe Award) and Derek Stingley Jr. (SEC Freshman of the Year and Sporting News Freshman of the Year). LSU had 14 players drafted and 6 undrafted free agents.

The Tigers defeated the defending national champions Clemson 42-25. LSU claimed their fourth national championship in school history, the third undefeated champion in the CFP era, and the second 15-0 season in the modern era.

After their dominant performance against a historically difficult schedule, several talking heads called them the greatest team in college football history.

  1. Alabama 2020: The honor of becoming the greatest football team in Alabama history has to put you in the top tier in my rankings.

It is not an easy statement: the undefeated 2009 team that slapped around Texas in the Rose Bowl, 1992 team that went 13-0 with maybe the most dominant defense in college football history or the 1979, 1966, 1965 or 1964 teams all had great seasons.

Unlike the teams above, the 2020 Tide team showed an offensive firepower rewriting Alabama history books.

Alabama had the best offensive line, wide receiver, running back and quarterback in college football.

After running through the 10 regular season with little to no resistance, the Tide captured the SEC Championship with a 52-46 (the closest contest of the season) over Florida.

Finishing 11-0 in SEC play, playing every game on their schedule during COVID, and the pure dominance the Tide displayed game after game has them at number two.

1.Miami Hurricanes 2001: By the numbers 12-0 record, 512 total points, 42.7 points per game, 9.8 points allowed, 32.9 points average margin of victory, 38 NFL draft picks and 17 first round picks.

The 2001 U was the most dominant all-around team in college football history with Andre Johnson, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis, Jeremy Shockey and Ken Dorsey on offense and Sean Taylor, Jonathan Vilma, Phillip Buchanon and Ed Reed on defense (just to name a few).

Six first team Consensus All Americans in Buchanon, Joaquin Gonzalez, Bryant Mckinnie, Shockey, Reed and Todd Sievers.

The U had an absurd amount of talent and played with swagger that established themselves as the best college football team over the past 20 years.

Just outside the top five:  Florida State 2013, Clemson 2018, Ohio State 2002, Auburn 2010, Alabama 2011 and 2012, Southern California 2004 and Texas 2005.  I can make an argument that any of these teams belong in the top five.

The Heisman Race

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

Normally this time of year means the college football regular season is almost over.

Due to the pandemic, the season was delayed for several conferences like the Big Ten and Pac 12. I’m going to take a look at the top five Heisman Trophy candidates.

Kyle Trask/ Florida: I feel like he should be the hands down favorite at this point. It’s hard to believe this guy was sitting on the bench behind Feleipe Franks.

Earlier in the season I said he’s this year’s Joe Burrow. I don’t think anybody can match Burrow’s video game like stats from 2019 but I’m talking about the drastic improvement he made. Also, both of them were not expected to play at that level going into their final season.

They have had the LSU game postponed due to several players on the team having COVID. I hope that game can get played in December so Trask can play the maximum amount of games.

He led the Gators to a win over No. 5 Georgia that they desperately needed. The defense is not very good, so they basically have to outscore their opponents. Trask is basically good for at least four passing TD’s every game.

Trevor Lawrence/ Clemson: He’s the clear consensus as the best quarterback and number one pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Unfortunately, he had COVID and had to miss two games.

One of them was at No. 4 Notre Dame and that could have been his Heisman moment.

The Tigers like to run the ball with All-American running back Travis Etienne so that takes away from Lawrence’s stats.

If he plays well against Notre Dame in the ACC Championship that could catapult him to the top of the Heisman list.

Travis Etienne/ Clemson: I know this has become a quarterback award but he really deserves consideration.

He’s a true dual threat running back and his number are very good.

Mac Jones/ Alabama: He has the Crimson Tide undefeated (6-0) and he’s playing very well. Jones has thrown for 2,196 yards (8th), 16 TD’s (tied-13th), 2 interceptions with a 95.6 QBR (2nd).

He’s on the best team and I think Bama will finish undefeated. His stats are impressive because Alabama is another team that likes to run the ball. Najee Harris has over 700 yards rushing.

The LSU game has been postponed due to a Coronavirus outbreak in the program. We don’t know if that game will actually get played but that would be an easy win for Bama.

The only challenge should be against Florida in the SEC Championship.

Justin Fields/ Ohio State: The Buckeyes have only played three games because the Big Ten started the season late and the Maryland game was canceled.

Fields only has 7 games to make a case as the best player.