Clemson Football is still under construction
The reality is that most units that have a change in coordinator that results in a new system, for either an offense or a defense, will rarely start out in Game One playing their best football. Most of the time, those units need a little time before they become the best version of themselves.
In 2011, Chad Morris’s offense was booed off the field at halftime in their second game of the season against Wofford. In their third game, they upset defending champion Auburn and ended their winning streak. They then beat Florida State and Virginia Tech (both ranked at the time) on their way to winning the Atlantic Division and ACC title.
It was a slower crescendo for Brent Venables. It took nearly three years to transform the defense into the machine it became. In his first year, Clemson only held opponents under 20 points four times in thirteen tries. In his second season, it was only six times in thirteen tries.
I am a classic example of somebody who knew better than to get carried away with my expectations for the offense, yet still ended up buying into the narrative we were hearing from the staff and team that this offense would be fast and violent, and they were going after a national championship.
I don’t begrudge Coach Swinney for using whatever motivational tactics he judges to be the best for his team, but what we learned Monday night is that this team is a work in progress, and works in progress don’t win national championships.
We shouldn’t judge this team – coaches or players – off one game. They need the season to show us what they will eventually be capable of. Expectations need to be reset.