Clemson Football: It’s time to refresh and reinvent

Dec 30, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Antonio Williams (0) catches a pass while defended by Tennessee Volunteers defensive back Jaylen McCollough (2) during the first quarter of the 2022 Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 30, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Antonio Williams (0) catches a pass while defended by Tennessee Volunteers defensive back Jaylen McCollough (2) during the first quarter of the 2022 Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports /

This week in talking about Clemson football, I had prepared an article talking about the little things that Clemson needed to do to return back to prominence. I even had some data to back that up. By around 4:15 on Thursday, that story got tossed, but I decided that the crux of this should stay the same. Even with the new coaching move, it’s less about an overhaul for the Clemson offense, and more about 2 simple things: its time to refresh and reinvent.

I had a loaded afternoon last Thursday. Normally after I finish work, I grab supper for the family, eat, and get ready to do The Morgan Thomas Show. But last week was a little different. I had 3 meetings from 4 until 5:30, I wasn’t going to do the show so I could catch up with a few guys I haven’t seen and probably won’t see again for a while. I even had an article by the same title nearly done in my notes.

Around 4:15, as I was diving into asking a candidate to explain their resume to me in my 1st meeting, I got 3 texts all at once. I knew something was off, and the top one came from the man with the name on the show. Somehow my work computer syncs with my Facebook messenger, so I could see the message in the corner of my screen read:

“Morgan Thomas: Brandon Streeter FIRED.”

I was taken aback. There was no way. I thought that maybe, just maybe, if the staff would have any shake-ups, it would come in the form of a position coach or a few support staffers. I was not expecting the OC himself to be fired, especially being the son of Clemson that Brandon Streeter is.

I was able to get through my 1st meeting with a few minutes to spare to verify what the heck was going on. It was true.  Before I could even read up on the situation before my next meeting, the buzz around the interweb was not just the firing but someone else had already been hired.

Great time for my 2nd meeting to start with my head buzzing. While I was trying to keep focused on a new job I was about to post for the manager at my job, speculation was buzzing on who in the world this could be.

Admittedly, I was in the camp that it was Kliff Kingsbury. A few people on social media and message boards spoke of their sources pointing to the former head coach of the Arizona Cardinals coming to Clemson. I was convinced it was him.

So, naturally, you would understand my surprise as I was finishing up my meetings for the day and began to see more messages about who it was. The 1st came from my neighbor and simply said 2 words.

“Garrett Riley”

All I could do was think “Dabo you sly dog, you did it again.”

The magnitude of this hire cannot be overstated. Garrett Riley just took the most unthinkable team to not only the playoff, but the national title game. And this was just year one for him.

He was one of the most red-hot names in college football; you could not get on any message boards for opposing teams looking for a coordinator without his name being mentioned. And everyone knew this was a major hire.

The reaction of other fan bases says it all. The media talking heads could only say “dang.” Gamecock fans quickly spin zoned their recent hire as “their guy” as they scoffed to cover their envy. It was loud enough that even their sweet natured coach tweeted an attack at a local Greenville sports station.

Bama and Miami fans were mad that Clemson made the move while they still have their current coaches, and any other twitter trolls (mostly from Florida State) were quick to point out the score of the national title game he just coached.

But we all know why people got so much up in arms.

Dabo Swinney knows that he doesn’t have to tear out the foundation of his program in order to stay in national prominence. Quite the contrary. The cultural foundation of his football program is the envy of several coaches.

What he knows is that in order to maximize this team’s opportunities (especially on offense), he needs to refresh and reinvent the scheme.

This was the 1st massive step to doing just that.

When your new coordinator has not finished outside the top 15 in total offense in any of his 3 years as a coordinator, then he must be doing something right.

People will say that the next step in Clemson’s evolution is using the transfer portal. These critics could be right, and that may or may not happen this May. That truly depends on the roster attrition over the next couple months (or days, who knows).

Expect to see significant improvement in the Clemson football wide receivers in 2023

I would contend that the young core of Tiger wide receivers have just become clay in a much more aggressive potter’s hand. Some of Clemson’s WRs have been injured and unable to fully maximize their potential; three of the most hopeful future targets were freshmen last year. So, while the receiver room looks different, the fire power is there.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the composite rankings of the WRs that are on the roster and you’ll see recruiting composite numbers and rankings that aren’t all that different from Georgia’s.

Which is the crux of my point.

The Riley move is a major shot in the arm for this offense and program from a perceptional standpoint, and a refreshing view from afar.

This new, younger, more aggressive scheme that gets your players open shows that the current head man is still looking to reinvent to win.

It goes to show that Dabo still has his fastball.

Next. Tigers break into Top 25, travel to Wake Forest. dark