With the calendar about to turn to October and with the Clemson Football team headed into a bye week, it’s that time of the year where many fans are asking what’s wrong with this Tiger team? It has now become an annual tradition.
We saw it in 2016 when the Tigers were coming off of a close loss to Alabama in the national game. They returned an offense loaded with talent led by Deshaun Watson and expectations soared. The general consensus amongst the fan base was that the Tigers would have a record setting offense. Instead they got an offense that could not stop turning the ball over through its first 10 games.
Clemson started out that season on the road in Auburn and came away with a close 19-13 win. Then came a home game with Troy that should have been nothing more than a tuneup. Instead the Tigers had to scratch and claw their way to a 30-24 win, in what most would agree was a sloppy performance that included 3 turnovers. The next two were easy wins over SC State and Ga Tech.
Then came the 42-36 win against Louisville in which the Tigers turned it over 5 times, allowing the Cardinals to overcome an 18 point deficit to take a 4th quarter lead. Two weeks later, with a bye week on deck, there came another sloppy performance at home against NC State. A game they should have lost. However, a missed FG by the Wolfpack as time expired sent the game to OT and the Tigers survived. The offense turned it over 4 times in what was one its worst showings of the season. Two weeks later came the loss to Pitt. Three more turnovers, with one being a terrible pick by Watson that came late and with the team well within FG range.
Ten games in and there was still a lot of sloppiness on the offensive side of the ball. We all know what happened after that. They went on to destroy everyone in their path on their way to another national title game appearance. It was almost as if that team needed to see it could be beaten.
In 2017, the team had a new starting QB in Kelly Bryant. With KB2 being more of a running QB, that offense looked much different. It became very run oriented and struggled in the vertical passing game much of the season. However, there is one similarity, and that is the week before their bye, they lost to Syracuse. It was by far the worst offensive showing that season, although much of that game was played with backup QB Zerrick Cooper taking the snaps.
In 2018, Trevor Lawrence entered the picture. The first 4 games the team rotated between Bryant and Lawrence, which in turn led to inconsistencies on the offense .Like the two previous seasons, that team put on its worst showing of the season against Syracuse, the week before its bye. Once again, fans and the media questioned the offense. Once again,we all know what happened after that bye week.
That brings us to 2019. Five games in and this offense has not found its groove yet. That sounds a little familiar. The team had a lackluster showing the week before its bye. That sounds a little familiar too. We’ve seen this all before. We know how this plays out.
For three consecutive seasons this team has played its best football after its bye week. There is a reason for that. This coaching staff knows what it’s doing. This staff has earned the benefit of the doubt. How far this team can go, no one knows. However, it’s safe to assume this offense starts to find its groove after this bye week.