Change is an inevitable force in life. Athletics see a high volume of turnover. The corporate world defines success by the direction which a company has change. Schools have both new students and teachers every year. Families add members and lose them over the years. Churches have split over a simple change in carpeting or wall color.
Change happens. And it is not always welcome.
In fact, some people loathe changes. They avoid it due to a fear of the unknown. The coming future means that the things they were once accustomed to are now going to be distant memories.
Last Thursday, Clemson fans everywhere were excited to see that future Clemson legend Deshaun Watson was drafted by the Houston Texans. In fact, Houston traded up with Cleveland in order to bring him to Texas.
Also picked up by NFL teams were Mike Williams, Cordrea Tankersly, Ben Boulware, Wayne Gallman, Jordan Leggett, Artavis Scott and others. These players were all important in leading Clemson to their second national championship in school history.
Since common era draft began in 1967, Watson-Williams is the first QB-WR combo from 1 school taken in 1st 12 picks. pic.twitter.com/ANnIJxHpZA— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) April 28, 2017
With the mass exodus that Clemson experienced with with many talented players graduating and leaving early, there is change. Clemson coaches are tasked with the responsibility of handling these vacancies and reloading them with new players.
Therein lies the problem. Reloading is not as simple as just plugging another person into the scheme. No, there has to be constant evaluation. Constant critiquing. Constant watching.
Dabo Swinney and his staff have been successful at not only bringing in high caliber players, but developing the players who were not as well-known in high school. Hunter Renfrow, for example, was a walk-on at Clemson, before receiving a scholarship. He also caught the touchdown pass that won the championship. A walk-on won the championship. That happens at Clemson.
With the success, the expectations have soared. Think back to 2010. Kyle Parker was a talented quarterback. He was a better baseball player, but not a bad quarterback. Clemson fans will say they expected a championship. But the reality is that the Tigers were expected to beat South Carolina and to maybe play for an ACC Championship. A 6-7 season and a loss to South Florida in a meaningless bowl game left a bitter taste.
Fast forward to 2015, Deshaun Watson was back, bigger and badder. An undefeated season and a loss to Alabama in the championship set lofty expectations for the 2016 team. This was finally the year for the Tigers.
And now… the best quarterback to ever come through Clemson is gone. This is where faith in the coaching staff MUST be had.
Coach ’em up. What Dabo has done is surround himself with a great coaching staff. Dabo himself is a good coach and an outstanding recruiter, but with the right people in the right places, Dabo makes himself a great coach.
Right now, Dabo is evaluating every single quarterback on the roster. Somebody has to start in a few months. Somebody will hopefully separate from the pack and be the clear starter. Fans will need to trust the process. The spring game is not enough to go on for determining which quarterback is best. No rhythm with the offense, narrow playbook, and a hurt quarterback. Let’s not pretend like this game was against Auburn. Or even Kent State.
Dabo has been great with players. He is a player’s coach. People love playing for the guy. So if you are one of the fans who keeps wringing your hands, stop. Do not worry about the team. This season honestly cannot be worse than 2014. That was not even a bad season. But only winning ten games will only be a disappointment for any Clemson fan. Clemson will not lose more than three games this year. Maybe a perfect season is too much of a reach. But is that not every year? It is not easy to go undefeated. Even for Alabama.
This defense will be nasty. As long as Venables stays at Clemson, the defense will not be a concern. Players want to play on this defense. The NFL is watching closely. Recruits are watching closely. National media is even watching closely. The defense is the least of your worries.
Now, if you cannot help yourself but to worry, fine. At least enjoy the fact that your team just won the championship. For only the second time in history. Of course, somehow Clemson does not get to claim the 1948 National Championship. If Alabama can claim 15, Clemson should claim three.