Clemson’s offense plays poorly, and DJU plays well
This is the outcome that is the biggest indictment of the Clemson program: if the offense struggles in 2023, but DJU plays well for the Beavers. It means a handful of things for the Tigers, most of which are negative.
Clemson fans could still look forward with the hope that eventually the offense will find the right people to run the new offensive system. Will that take one more season? Two more seasons? How long do we expect Riley to be here?
The longer it takes, the more impact this entire situation will have on recruiting on both sides of the ball. The defense has been bringing in good recruits, and the Tigers’ history of putting players in the NFL will continue to be a positive selling point, but competing for championships is another important selling point when you want to recruit (and play) at an elite level.
One year with an anemic offense can be a fluke. A second year can be excused if the program makes the kinds of changes Clemson made this offseason. A third year of struggles with a new offensive coordinator who has proven his system works at other programs is more difficult to brush aside.
That third year combined with the realization that Clemson had a good college quarterback in DJ Uiagalelei that will likely get a shot in the NFL? That’s going to be a negative selling point on the recruiting trail that will be hard to overcome.
Yeah, you can make an argument that DJU was never a fit for the Clemson offense. You can also argue the quarterbacks coach who supervised DJU has been replaced by Riley, but the negative selling point will ultimately be pointed at Swinney, who oversaw every aspect of the situation. He oversaw the evaluation and recruitment process. He oversaw the coaching of every group, including the quarterbacks. He decided to promote Streeter to offensive coordinator from within instead of hiring from outside the program in 2022.
Negativity from the public at large about unimportant things has been pointed at Swinney for years. It has never amounted to very much within the program, nor has it been impactful to most recruits once they have had a chance to meet Swinney and see the program.
A narrative from other programs that Swinney’s program isn’t trustworthy to develop highly-rated prospects because of their perceived failure with DJU could be very impactful to the Tigers.
You can scream the names Trevor Lawrence and Deshaun Watson at the top of your lungs as loudly as you want. It won’t matter. DJU will be viewed as a victim who overcame, and Clemson will be blamed for doing him wrong.
I think most Tiger fans won’t root against DJU in 2023, but everyone needs to hope this last possibility doesn’t happen.