11 November 2007


The Tigers have finally put themselves where I've longed to see them, back in the race for the ACC title. This time I can really taste it too. Through the last three victories I've maintained my skepticism, but I think this Tommy led team is making a believer out of me. Every season it seems I get my hopes up only for them to be smashed over and over again, with this season seemingly being no different. Now, when this team sets foot on the field, they do so in a way that none other that I have watched has since I began closely following football. Let's hope this continues.

Now before everyone starts jumping on my case about flip-flopping on the whole Tommy Bowden issue, hear me out. If you have really watched this team in the past few weeks, they look like an entirely different team than the ones that showed up against the Techs, causing the vast majority of us to give up hope. I can taste a title after this weekend's showing, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Let's take a close look at the game and the team now.

AP Photo- Patrick Collard
LIGHTNING- Back and Better than ever

Clemson did something this week they failed to do in the past 3 games, score first. Scoring often has not been a problem, but scoring first and scoring often is what I like to see. This was a dominant offensive game, without having to rely too much on our rushing attack, which admittedly, is not as much of a threat this year as it was last. I can only credit that to Cullen Harper, who has been so much better than advertised and taken a lot of the pressure off of Davis and Spiller in the backfield. Speaking of taking the pressure off of Spiller, it is great to see him finally hitting his stride. With Ford out for the season, the need for Spiller to be a big time play maker has been magnified. I don't know if he started taking vitamins, or got counseling or whatever, but he has certainly worked out of the funk that seemed to slow him down earlier this year and he is back, rejuvenated and ready to lead us to a championship. He also is helping me forget our special teams woes, which haven't been all that apparent in the last few weeks. Let's hope he runs another one back for a TD this coming week. Apparently that open date did more for him than we give it credit for.

His counterpart in the backfield, the always reliable James Davis, is really stepping up his team leadership this year and we really need to make sure he is given proper credit. We know Davis was the reason that Spiller did not transfer prior to this season, and now he's at it again, trying to keep players out of the draft so we can make a run at the BCS again next year. Rumor has it that Philip Merling and Michael Hamlin, among others, are thinking about trying to make the jump to the next level after this season. Davis himself is staying, and he wants his teammates around to give them all the best chance at another conference title and possibly, a BCS championship.

We can't stop talking about offense before mentioning Cullen Harper, who as I said before, has been amazing. It still pisses me off every time I think about him riding the bench while we suffered through a year of Will Proctor, I mean, what were they thinking? Harper now holds a few more records, and has shown us that he is mobile when he needs to be, scoring another running TD this week. The offensive line is doing much better at keeping the defense out of his face too, giving Harper more time to work his magic. It seems that the offensive woes that plagued us against Georgia Tech are long gone, though Wake's defense, by the numbers is pretty horrible. Aaron Kelly has been lights out for us too, and if he and Tyler Grisham continue to be such good targets, I don't think our offense will be slowing down. Kelly passed Derrick Hamilton this weekend to claim Clemson's record for receiving TD's in a single season with 11.

AP Photo-Patrick Collard


I can't say enough good things about the defense. I think Riley Skinner will be seeing those guys in his dreams (make that nightmares) for the next week or so. I know he had to have felt like a tackling dummy after getting sacked that many times. Clemson is sporting one of the top defenses in the country right now, ranked 5th in all of division one. This puts us just behind big names like LSU, OSU, West Virginia and the "real" USC. The defense really has never been an issue with this team, and we need them to continue their dominating performances. Once again though, Wake's offense is admittedly, pretty horrible in comparison to other teams in this conference.

One last thing to bring up is a sticky subject lately. This doesn't mean that I think TB is a great coach, or that we should renew his contract or any of that other stuff, it just means that I'm slightly impressed with how he is handling this team this year. The two losses we suffered were pathetic, I know, but this team has turned things around in style. I know we give most of the credit to the players, but this whole "finish the job" idea was Tommy's. He knows that Clemson fans want championships and that's why he was brought in to coach our football team, to win championships. I was impressed with Tommy's spirit on the sidelines this game as well. Spiller is rejuvenated and has the spirit of a winner, and I think he's influencing the old coach a little bit too. Tommy argued some calls with alot of passion I don't often see from him. One of my main criticisms of him was his lack of activity when it came to getting calls overturned. He was really in the ref's ears a lot this week, and that helps his players out, knowing that he's going to fight for them. When the coach has a winning attitude, the team can't help but have a winning attitude. I've often said that Tommy plays not to win, but rather not to lose. In the past few weeks I haven't seen that. Tommy is letting the offense run up the score and it seems he wants to dominate other teams as badly as we want him too. Let's hope this is a new and improved Tommy Bowden. I still don't think he deserves an extension, but he can stick around through the bowl this year at least, we'll re-evaluate at the end.

All in all this was a classic performance. This was Clemson using the proper attitude and the emotions in Death Valley, to their advantage. Dominating Wake Forest, while not necessarily that impressive when it comes to numbers, was definitely a morale booster and a victory won on principle. We've got a lot of momentum built up, and BC seems to have lost theirs. Let's hope the Tigers perform like they have been and take the Eagles down next weekend.