Clemson Football Analysis: A good playoff match up?


In the last Monday Mailbox of the off season, we will give you Clemson football analysis on many topics including Greg Huegel, the playoffs, and much more.

In the last Monday Mailbox of the year (until we get through football season), we will offer you Clemson football analysis on several topics you asked for. Joining Ty and I this week are Rubbing the Rock Fans of the Month Layla Ewald and Duncan Sherer. Here are the questions for this week:

Is there a scenario where Clemson only wins 7 or 8 games this year?

Andrew: Sure there is. It is the scenario where Deshaun Watson goes down to an injury and Nick Schuessler/Kelly Bryant can’t pick up the team. Even then, though, I don’t think Clemson falls to seven wins on the season. It would take a ton of things going wrong for Clemson to lose 5 games. I would say at worst, this team goes 9-3 this season.

Duncan (RTR Fan of the Month): Is there a scenario where we amass only 7-8 wins, absolutely, but it seems to me hopefully impossible, I mean we are not SoCar. I suppose a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances could prevail and capsize the vessel Coach Swinney has constructed, and obviously the primary factor would be an injury to D Watson.

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We have 4 show up and we win games, the rest will take some amount of work. A possible kicking catastrophe could spell disaster on the road at Louisville with unproven kickers in every aspect. Obviously, anything less than our best and ND, FSU, GT, and SoCar can beat us. Clemson-D Watson could be easily tripped up by The U or NCSU on the road. So is it possible, absolutely, but so too is it possible for me to win the power ball this year. So possible, but improbable. I foresee the streak of double digit wins continuing for our beloved Tigers. As much as I want to say 11, I will say we are poised for another 10 win season, but I would be neither disappointed nor surprised if we win more. As I told an Ohio State fan I met in May and have become fast friends with the day we met, we look forward to beating y’all again in January. That was said with only a bit of hyperbole.

Q. Is Greg Huegel starting a good surprise for the team or a weak spot for the team for the first three games?

Andrew: The thing is kicking is such a mental game. To be honest, we will not know until he actually kicks in front of 80,000 fans on game day. You can hit field goals all day long in practice, but game day is a different story. So, honestly, I have no clue as to what to expect from the kicking game. It could be a pleasant  surprise or a dismal spot, each one could easily happen.

Layla (RTR Fan of the Month): There aren’t many things that have made my heart pound louder and my stomach do more flips than the cheerleaders over the years than our kicking game.  Last season I watched most of our extra points and field goals with my eyes closed.  We have heard that Huegel has a strong leg, but the question is will he be able to perform in the heat of the moment under pressure.  I predict that the first two home games against Wofford and App State will give Huegel ample opportunity to practice his PATs since I fully expect the Tigers to score quite a few TDs and take a comfortable lead early in both games.

However, kicking is such a mental task and my concern is that the eyes of 80,000+ fans anxiously watching and Huegel’s desire to prove himself may affect his accuracy.  I think he may be a little shaky in these two games, but overall I think he will perform and that will build his confidence.  That being said, I think his performance in the Louisville game will be questionable.  It will be his first game in not only a hostile territory, but a sold out Thursday night game in hostile territory.  This is where the real pressure and true test will come.  I’m sending positive thoughts his way, but I can’t help but to be a bit skeptical when it comes to these things.  I am already feeling a bit nervous about this situation.  Huegel will need his first few kicks at Louisville to be on point to build his confidence.

If he waivers at all at Louisville and especially if he starts the game off inaccurate. We will have to hope that he can dig deep, dust himself off and pull it back together-instead of completely crumbling under the pressure.  Now if I am wrong and he doesn’t prove himself in the first two games at home, I think we are definitely in trouble for the third game.  If that happens, the kicking game will be flying on a wing and a prayer to get the ball through the uprights at Louisville.  Let’s just hope the game doesn’t come down to winning or losing based on the kicking game (I do not anticipate this happening).  Overall, I think he will be in good shape for Wofford and App State, but I’m not so sure about Louisville.  I will be peeping through my fingers and praying I am wrong for that game!

Q. Who is a team you’d like to see Clemson play in a bowl game or the playoffs this upcoming season?

Andrew: I want to see a match up with Oregon. There’s no question in my mind how great of a game that would be and seeing two explosive offenses going back and forth for a national televised game would be great. I want to see this match up and play the Ducks this year.

Ty: I would love to see a rematch with Alabama. I know I should be over the 2008 Alabama 34-10 butt whipping that we  received but Alabama is still the best program in the country. We have been a consistent program for four years and have given a few butt whippings ourselves, but Bama is the standard and I would love to see how we would match up with them. Our skill at wide receiver and our secondary could very well be better than theirs but my concern is in the trenches and our recently depleted linebacking corps. Clemson, Dabo, and the ACC have earned a lot of respect across the country lately and a Tiger win against Bama(#3)would only solidify the notion that respect was earned and is well deserved.

Next: Clemson Football Spotlight: Germone Hopper