I’m a dreamer, I’ll be the first to admit. I dream of things that might never be and ask why not? In this holiday season filled with dreams, hope and miracles, this is my somewhat dreamy, yet realistic dream for Clemson’s 2022 season.
After this unusual 2021 season ends on the December 29th, with Dabo Swinney’s Tigers having soundly defeated the Iowa State Cyclones, there will still be much to see, wonder and dream about next season. Letting my imagination lead my thoughts, I began to think about what could be said of the 2022 Clemson Tigers? Hopefully, endless possibilities.
I see the lead up to the season being one ladened with much doubt from the media. I can almost hear David Pollack’s and Desmond Howard’s musings. “How can Clemson rise to meet the challenges of this season having to replace so many staffers and players?” Or maybe, “I don’t see Clemson returning to national prominence this year, even Dabo has to face the realities of such a monumental rebuild.” There will be a constant cacophony of the usual stale, lazy media making assumptions about Clemson’s future success.
Here’s what I see unfolding for 2022. Uncharacteristically, Swinney will be low key, playing his cards close to his vest, even more than usual. In his way, he will give them, the media, little about the development of his team. It’ll be like a cat and mouse game, where the cat (Swinney) always wins. It’s going to be fun to watch.
Glowing reports from fall camp will be toned down, giving the impression that Swinney knows secretly, his Tigers are in trouble. He will take “poor mouthing” and riding the ROY bus to new depths. He’s a natural at such games and he rarely loses. Yes, the articles that will be written about Clemson’s inevitable mediocrity will be everywhere. God bless a sucker!
I know the Tiger fanbase has a tendency to wear their feelings on their sleeves regarding the perceived negative, anti-Clemson narrative pushed by the media. However, next year, take those feelings off those sleeves, because Swinney has got a secret that nobody knows. His Tigers are back to rock the college football world, again.
There will be little hype surrounding this team, that’s for sure but that’s a good thing. The 2022 edition of the Tigers painfully knows hype kills, especially when you believe it. Hype, real hype is earned, not created out of thin air. If greatness comes to the 2022 Tigers, it will be because they will have earned it. I believe they will.
With each passing Saturday, slowly, if not reluctantly, the eyes of college football will look towards Clemson. There is nothing more interesting, more inspiring than a great comeback story. That story will be the Tigers in 2022. That team from lil’ ole Clemson. This team will slowly change opinions, narratives and perspectives. Honestly, even Swinney couldn’t have dreamt such a script even if he tried.
Remember all the offseason concerns and drama surrounding the replacement of two legendary coordinators? After week three, it’ll be a non-story. Wes Goodwin, Mickey Conn and Brandon Streeter will take over where those that moved on, left off. I think this team will be highly motivated, wounded and wearing a huge chip on their shoulders. They all know what they must do and they have it in them.
At the beginning of next season, to no one’s surprise, the Tigers will be dismissed. About midseason, despite the lingering doubt from the pollsters, Clemson will be in the top 15. Then by the ninth game, Clemson will be hovering around the top seven, maybe eight. This prideful group will be flirting with destiny by the time of their yearly square off with their feathered friends. Then, the real magic happens.
The Tigers will win the Atlantic Division and meet and defeat the Coastal Division’s sacrificial lamb (maybe Virginia?) in the ACC Championship. Add to that, with almost certainty, two of the top five teams will choke leaving a clear path for the Tigers to move into the top four.
Then, in splendid revenge, just as it was in 2015, a certain newness of being included in the playoff will sweep the Clemson family. Sweeter revenge will be delivered to the Tigers as they play Oklahoma in the semifinals. Swinney’s Tigers will face and defeat Brent Vendables’ Sooners, advancing to the national title game, giving Swinney his first win against one of his former assistants.
After defeating whomever in the title game, the Clemson Tigers will yet again be at the mountain top, a fourth national championship. Swinney will again, win the Bobby Dodd Award for College Football’s Coach of the Year and it will be well deserved. Imagine all the exuberance, the unbridled happiness. Imagine the joy of having the pleasure of proving the many naysayers wrong. Again.
Having endured all of the storms of 2021, this might seem farcical, unrealistic and dreamy. Well, yes, it’s mere speculation on my part. However, just because you dream it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. With dreamers like me and Swinney, the sky is the limit. Yes, I believe 2022 is going to be an epic return to familiar territory, greatness. Fans are looking forward to the adventure and few can hardly wait, even if it’s just a dream, or is it? Oh, the endless possibilities of dreams.
Clemson and Florida State have released depth charts ahead of this weekend’s matchup at Death Valley.
Clemson vs Florida Atlantic: Depth Charts
The ninth-ranked Tigers will travel to Duke to face off with the Blue Devils. Kickoff is set for 8 pm and the game will be televised by ESPN.