608 yards on 89 snaps
So why is everyone on the Tiger team speaking as if they just lost another close game? Probably because even though the team is young, they have all been in the undefeated seat before. In fact, just last year the Tigers were sitting on top of the world after beating the 15th ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets before a Virginia Tech defense decided to literally steal the wheels off the Tiger offense and show the world what the Tigers were made of. So, to say the least, the entire Tiger Nation is wary of what undefeated means.
Enter “Finish the Job” and “One game at a time”. Two mottos that have now been emblazened on every player, coach and fan to emphasise this season. Tommy Bowden and the coaches are doing an excellent job balancing the good and the bad as well as getting the team to focus on each game. Until this point, the Tigers have sounded as if every game is the most important game of the season. The “One game at a time” mantra has effectively placed a mental door in front of every player mind which can only be opened after that weeks opponent walks off the field. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the coaches didn’t have a season schedule past the upcoming weeks opponent in the locker rooms every week. As Tommy Bowden said in the most recent post game interviews: hey don’t hand out trophies for 4-0, so let’s see if we can get to 5-0. And that is the exact mentality that the team has adopted as seen through Thomas Austin’s quote: “Georgia Tech next week, that’s the only game that counts.” And that should make every Tiger fan take comfort in the mentality of the team.
The coaches and the fans know how special this team is after watching the offense crumble on its run dependency last year. With Cullen Harper breaking records weekly and the dynamic duo of Davis and Spiller foaming at the mount with anticipation for the defenses to finally respect the pass again, this team is clicking on all cylinders and making some noise across the conference and possibly nation. But with each win, no matter how big, the coaches and even the players nit pick and criticize their performances. In the last game against the Wolfpack, the special teams allowed a 99 yard return, that is understandably going to be the glaring sore spot this week. But when the red zone efficiency and field goal kicking are brought up as potential game killer sin the future, you know that the team is determined to improve with every game and practice. Red zone efficiency was not 100% and that just won’t do for this new team mentality, they want TD’s not FG’s and the FG’s have got to be 100% as well. Never mind that one of the kicks was for 51 yards, if you do it in practice you do it in the game. And when your coach and QB are both agreeing that the team SHOULD have done better, then that should not only get the attention of the fanbase but everyone that is in the path of the Tigers this season.
So in the end, if Tommy continues to preach the “you don’t get trophies for X and 0″ and the team continues to be critical of itself even in big wins, the Clemson faithful may be in for a great ride. The only road bump? The Atlantic division seems to carry the big boys this year and Clemson has to play em all. It all starts this week. And you can say that again next week after the Tigers walk off the field down in Hotlanta.