No excuses next season for Clemson

By Marc Hudgens  |   Monday, January 07, 2008  |  Comments( 22 )

Clemson Tigers
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After 2006, the excuses were quarterbacking, kicking, and injuries. After this season, they were offensive line and no senior leadership. The excuse wagon rolls on, as it appears Clemson never has a full team that can consistently go the full length of a football season.

Both years, coach Tommy Bowden did in fact point out the team was one point or one win away from reaching Zion. Trying to mask the chronic under-achievement that brands the program, Bowden always crutches on the "close" remark, implying that progress is indeed there even though it's never seen in the trophy case.

What was that old "close doesn't count" expression?

The door to the ACC title will certainly be open wider than ever before next season, considering the Tigers' conference schedule is arguably the weakest it's been in years. They don't have to play Virginia Tech, a team that's owned Clemson the last five meetings. Additionally, Miami -- a highly talented team that has given Clemson fits -- isn't on the schedule.

The Tigers' 2008 ACC schedule includes home games against Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland and North Carolina State, while the team will travel to Boston College, Florida State, Virginia and Wake Forest. In short, Virginia Tech was replaced by Virginia, which is somewhat of a downgrade.

The non-conference schedule gets tougher, though, as the Tigers will go from playing three patsies and South Carolina to playing two low-level teams (Citadel, South Carolina State), South Carolina and Alabama in the season opener in the Georgia Dome. Although the Tide had a down year and will lose quite a few starters on defense, Bowden's record against SEC teams not named South Carolina is 1-5. Therefore, although the non-conference schedule is a bit tougher, the ACC slate is much easier.

Throw in that the Tigers will likely return 17 starters, which includes a proven quarterback in Cullen Harper, a solid running attack, talented receivers and a stiff defense, and there should be no reason for Clemson to fall short of the ACC title game in 2008.

Clemson is definitely a dynamic team loaded with more than enough talent to win the ACC crown. But what have morphed from interesting to outright tired are the excuses by Bowden when the Tigers fall short.

But, hey, that's why they pay him that recently fattened contract, right?
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About Marc Hudgens

Marc Hudgens has been with RealFootball365 since 2007, covering college football, specifically Clemson and Oregon. He also writes for covering the ACC. He enjoys the acidic wit of Hunter S. Thompson, is a freelance graphic designer and has written several screenplays. He...
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