Clemson Football is now 4-2 after a 17-12 win over Wake Forest in Death Valley on Homecoming weekend.
With the narrow victory, the mood of Clemson Nation has once again taken a plunge. The vast majority of prognosticators thought Clemson would whip the Deacons. An admirable effort against Florida State and a solid victory on the road in Syracuse made most people think Clemson was back.
Expectations determine reactions. A 17-12 win would be awesome if the team was the underdog and few people gave them a chance to win.
Since most everyone thought this would be a big Clemson victory, the reaction is that this team hasn’t made any progress and is the worst since 2010.
Most everyone thought this would be a big Clemson victory…except me.
I predicted a six-point Clemson win. It’s not what I wanted but it is what the objective observer in me thought.
I didn’t get it all right. I thought there would be scoring. I thought Clemson would put up points but also give Wake a few short fields. I got Clemson on the money line right, Wake plus the points right, and the over on points very wrong.
The point is that I didn’t expect this to be a Clemson blowout. Therefore, take it from someone who saw this coming: it’s not as bad as you think right now.
First, the main reason I didn’t think this would be a Clemson blowout is that it was a game before a bye week. If you haven’t noticed, Clemson usually sucks in the week before a bye.
I can’t explain it, but I have observed it and acknowledged the reality of it. The only year since 2018 that Clemson has played well before a bye was 2020, and they played The Citadel.
Second, and perhaps most important, it was too early to say ‘Clemson is back’.
What is this team’s biggest problem? Or, what is this offense’s biggest problem?
Let’s nail this down: what is Cade Klubnik’s biggest problem?
Cade Klubnik’s biggest problem is inconsistency, and therefore it is Clemson’s biggest problem
Klubnik is a good quarterback. He will not be a great quarterback until he learns to be consistent. Consistent from game to game, from drive to drive, from play to play.
Not perfect, but consistent. That just isn’t something you shake after a couple of good games.
This will be something Clemson copes with for the duration of the 2023 season. There will be good days and bad days.
What we learned yesterday was exactly what I hoped we would learn: Clemson can win a football game even if they have a bad day.
Would that effort have beaten Miami in two weeks? Notre Dame? North Carolina? Nope. If that is how the Tigers play against those programs, they will lose.
That’s not the point. What we learned is that even on a bad day, Clemson can find a way to win a ball game. They did it with defense. Sometimes that isn’t pretty, but it’s still a W.
This was just another step on the road to real improvement, which will come in 2024. This team is what it is, but it isn’t as bad as you might think following a narrow win like this one.