Almost as quickly as it began, Clemson’s 2021 season is now over. The Tigers wrapped up the campaign with a 20-13 win over Iowa State in the Cheez-It Bowl on Wednesday. With that in mind, let’s start looking ahead to the 2022 season.
DJ Uiagalelei has to play much better next year in order for Clemson to make another run. He has played most of the season with torn ligaments in his throwing hand and with an injured knee, both of which could require surgery to repair.
Now that we know that, it’s easy to see why he struggled. Therefore the young man needs to take all the time he needs to heal and reflect in order to become the best version of himself. After learning the extent of his injuries, fans should support him and be thankful for his commitment as he enters the offseason and begins his recovery process. Persevering through that sort of injury had to be tough.
The wide receiver room has to improve. They do seem to have gotten much better at blocking. That was evident the last few games, and they deserve credit for that. The problem is they still have trouble catching the ball and creating separation. This team lacked an alpha receiver in the group. To start the season, everyone thought Justyn Ross would be that guy. That never really materialized, for whatever reason.
Joseph Ngata has struggled with injuries since he has been at Clemson. Beaux Collins came on late in the year, but as a whole, this group underwhelmed. For a team that takes pride at developing receivers, and being known as Wide Receiver U, the product definitely did not fit the billing.
The offensive line grew up before our very eyes this year. Hats off to them for a job well done to close out the year. Godspeed to offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell as he coached his last game at Clemson, and begins the next chapter of his career. The group will return all the starters and depth going into the 2022 season, so they are poised for success.
Wes Goodwin’s debut at defensive coordinator was impressive. As good as Brent Venebles was, this defense did not miss a beat in the bowl game. Hopefully Goodwin will be equally as impressive on the recruiting trail and at developing players.
Brandon Streeter called a great offensive game. Fans obviously wanted to see more explosive pass plays, but with lingering health issues at quarterback and a receiver corps that is sputtering, that was mostly just wishful thinking. Hopefully these issues will be fixed prior to the start of next season.
As we say goodbye to seniors and super seniors, we wish them well in their next chapter. James Skalski, Nolan Turner, and so many others have given us so many memories throughout the years to remember. Good luck to them as they move on.
The team still has open positions in which they need to add a few players via recruiting or the transfer portal. Losing both coordinators caused Clemson to lose several of their verbal commitments for the 2022 recruiting class, and to plummet from the top ten in recruiting to the number 24 class per 247 sports.
Most of the more talented high school recruits signed during the early signing period so it will be interesting to see how the team addresses this issue. The only three options are: find recruiting diamonds in the rough that have yet to sign, identify players and bring them in from the transfer portal, or pocket the scholarships until next year.
As a whole, Clemson is in a great position to begin the 2022 campaign. The quarterback room will be in much better shape with Cade Klubnik coming in to fill a much needed position at backup quarterback.
BT Potter is set to return and shore up special teams. The defense returns most of the starters and the team seems to be in good hands with the new coordinators in which Dabo Swinney has selected. Sure, the 2021 season didn’t go exactly as Clemson fans had hoped or were accustomed to, but like Swinney likes to say, the best is yet to come.
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