The Tigers now get their first of two bye weeks in 2019 (Photo by Getty Images)
This Clemson Football program came into the 2019 season riding high. After blowing Alabama’s doors off in the national title game in January, the offseason was filled with nothing but hype for this team, seeing as the offense was returning mostly intact, including all world quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
There was going to be major turnover on the defensive side, but nothing the Tigers hadn’t experienced under Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables. Besides, with what was coming back on offense, they would easily be able to overcome any growing pains on defense.
Throw in a little Heisman hype for not one, but two players, and there wasn’t a team that was more talked about over the offseason. Vegas oddsmakers and ESPN’s FPI had Clemson as the favorite to win it all again in 2019. Expectations were at a fever pitch.
Problem is, some had expectations of perfection. Not just another perfect 15-0 run, but perfect performances in games 1-15 on top of running the table again. Assuming a team will even play a 15th game bold, but that’s a conversation for another day. Five games in, and the Tigers are a perfect 5-0, but they’ve been far from perfect.
The offense that was supposed to be so good, has been inconsistent, and at times sloppy and discombobulated. The superstar quarterback has already thrown more picks than all of last season. The offensive line that was supposed to dominant hasn’t been getting that push up front in the running game. They have struggled to sustain drives, instead mostly relying on the big plays in the passing game.
With all that was returning on offense, there was one piece that didn’t. Hunter Renfrow. He was the teams crutch when they needed that big third down catch. He was the guy they could turn to on 1st and 2nd down in the passing game to ensure they stayed in front of the sticks. Through five games this season no one has come close to filling that role he played so well during his time at Clemson, and it has shown.
With the seasons first bye week now upon us, this coaching staff can evaluate where this team is offensively and determine where any adjustments need to be made. They can go over what has worked, what hasn’t, and try to pinpoint this offense’s strengths in order to make it more efficient. Whether that be in personnel groupings, the rotations, or even some of the play calls, they will make the necessary adjustments.
One thing is certain, and that is the fact that this coaching staff knows what it takes to have their team ready for the championship run. They have shown that they know how to have their team peaking at the right time and not to early. It is a process and this staff has mastered it. Sitting at 5-0, this bye week comes at the perfect time for these coaches to start rounding this team into form. Getting better as the season progresses has been a trademark of Dabo Swinney’s teams. With the bye week on deck, it is a pretty safe bet we start seeing that improvement two weekends from now in Death Valley.