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Is Clemson still among college football’s elite? It all depends on Tigers’ sputtering offense

Success has the potential to discourage evolution. In college football, repeated success under one model only serves to reinforce the approach; positive results can often strip away the impulse toward self-evaluation instead of promoting outside ideas or concepts.

This can make the high-performing programs of the Bowl Subdivision resemble large ocean liners: difficult to move, hard to steer and slow to turn.

There are examples in recent history of elite teams and coaches overturning an established offensive identity in favor of wholesale change. Most notably, Alabama’s shift toward a spread-based scheme under coach Nick Saban has embodied college football’s ongoing offensive revolution and maintained the Crimson Tide’s place as the dominant program of the FBS.

One of Alabama’s biggest foils has been slower to embrace an overhaul.

For the second season in a row, Clemson’s underachieving offense has threatened to derail what was until recently almost preordained: that the Tigers would dominate the ACC, take home the conference championship and reach the College Football Playoff.

Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei (5) runs through the line as Georgia Tech’s Ayinde Eley (10) and D’Quan Douse (99) close in during the second half Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Clemson, S.C.

Last year was the first time since 2014 that Clemson did not win the ACC, make the semifinals and finish in the top four of the final poll. It remains to be seen if that was a one-year blip or part of a trend.

Despite playing three nondescript opponents — Georgia Tech, Furman and Louisiana Tech — this year’s offense ranks a pedestrian 63rd nationally in yards per play, 85th in yards per pass attempt and tied for 72nd in plays gaining 30 or more yards. Clemson is averaging 5.3 yards per play since the start of last season after averaging a combined…


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Author : USA TODAY Sports

Publish date : 2022-09-23 02:23:24

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