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Clemson Football Preview Predictions and Schedule 2011
The Clemson Tigers of a year ago were a perfect example of a football team with talent that simply didn't play up to their full potential going 6-7 and suffering their 1st losing season since 1998. When that happens, the blame has to be placed squarely on the shoulders of the head coach. Dabo Swinney enters his 4th year at Clemson and figures to be under a microscope from here forward. There's really no room for error and certainly no room for another 6 win season.
Last year Clemson led eventual National Champ Auburn 17-3 at the half but ended up losing 27-24 in OT. That was the first of 3 consecutive close losses, losing to Miami Fla 31-21 and 21-16 at North Carolina. They then lost 4 of their last 6 games all of which were within a touchdown with the exception of an embarrassing 29-7 home loss to South Carolina. They also lost a 31-26 decision to South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
This season, in an attempt to improve an offense that ranked 88th in the nation they bring in Chad Morris from Tulsa as coordinator. Morris runs an offense very similar to that off Auburn and Oregon which should give opposing ACC defenses lots of new looks. Tajh Boyd takes over at QB for Clemson behind an offensive line which is intact from a year ago and will also have a few returning targets at receiver.
The defense was #1 in the ACC in points against at 18.8 per game and was #2 against the pass and #2 in total defense. While they lose several key members of that defense and have their holes to fill, it's important to note that Clemson is one of those schools that will always have talent. They recruit well. You can be sure when starters move on, there are guys waiting in the wings to step in that in most cases are every bit as good. It all comes down to coaching.
The offense will have opening games against Troy and Wofford to practice and further learn the new scheme under Morris and learn they better as they face Auburn in their 3rd game, September 17th, at home. Auburn figures to be down several notches and Clemson figures to be sky high for their first big test of the year, so circle that date on your betting calendar. After Auburn their ACC schedule kicks in and frankly, each and every game on their schedule is a winnable one.
It really all comes down to how quickly the offense can learn the new scheme and whether or not the defense can hold onto leads and not allow teams to come back, i.e.. Auburn a year ago. With the talent Clemson has year after year there can't be any excuses. This team should win a minimum of 8 or 9 games. There isn't a single game where you can say they are going to be outclassed. Anything less than 8 wins, I'd tell Dabo Swinney to pack his bags. Of their 7 losses a year ago, 6 were within reach. Turn those 6 close losses into wins and this team wins 10 or 11.
2011 Clemson Tigers Football Schedule
9-24-11 FLORIDA STATE
10-1-11 at Virginia Tech
10-8-11 BOSTON COLLEGE
10-15-11 at Maryland
10-22-11 NORTH CAROLINA
10-29-11 at Georgia Tech
11-12-11 WAKE FOREST
11-19-11 at North Carolina State
11-26-11 at South Carolina
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