Clemson Football: 2022 Make or Break for Tigers?

Winning two national championships and competing in six straight College Football Playoff’s is something that every team not named Clemson or Alabama only dreams of.

Clemson has become a powerhouse in the sport of college football, growing from a mediocre small market team to the juggernauts that they have we see today.

Nothing lasts forever, however, and the 2021 season sent Clemson Football in a tailspin, having been knocked out of the playoff as early as September. Numerous factors were involved but the fact of the matter is the Tigers suffered from an inept offense which was carried by a championship level defense.

Clemson did go on to win 10 games, which was an achievement in and of itself, when considering the offense was one of the worst in college football. But several other things transpired that Clemson will have to avoid going forward, if they are to regain their former glory.

Let’s start with the departure of former defensive coordinator Brent Venebles. We have discussed how vital the defense was throughout the 2021 season. Four members of the 2022 recruiting class backed off their verbal pledges to Clemson after it was announced that Venebles would take the head coaching job at Oklahoma. Can Clemson be as good on that side of the ball without the defensive genius on the sidelines?

Wes Goodwin got off to a great start in the bowl win over Iowa State and all the right things are being said, but that is an answer we just do not have yet.

Tony Elliot definitely caught his share of flack last year, whether it was warranted or not. The offense wasn’t exactly explosive with current offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter calling plays either. Elliot was known to be a great recruiter as well, so it will be interesting to see if there is any drop off there.

Speaking of recruiting, former defensive tackles coach Todd Bates’ name was synonymous with recruiting. Nick Eason will certainly have his hands full and will need to hit the ground running as Clemson currently has no defensive tackles committed after signing just one last year.

Long time offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell decided to call it a career from his position on the team as well and will now move into an administrative role. Thomas Austin has been being roomed to take over his role for more than a year now.

A 10-3 record for most teams would be a great year. For Clemson, let’s be honest, it was somewhat of a down year. Especially when you factor in the Tigers play in arguably the weakest football conference.

Paul Finnebaum and other television personalities have chimed in on how the Clemson dynasty is now over. Public perception is more important than folks like to believe, particularly when young, upcoming recruits see it more than ever via social media outlets.

Let’s not forget that the Tigers endured more injuries than they ever have under the Dabo Swinney era. Not to mention the team playing so poorly they became unranked for the first time since 2014.

Many of Clemson’s star players are likely headed to the NFL after the 2022 season so they will need a massive influx of talent to replace what they will be missing. In short, the 2023 recruiting haul will be absolutely vital in regards to continued success of the team as a whole.

Every team has a down year once in a while, that’s just the nature of the beast. One of Swinney’s hallmark sayings is, “It’s about how you respond.”

So following a year of Clemson playing lackluster offense, experiencing a massive overhaul on the coaching staff, being riddled by injury, becoming unranked for the first time since 2014, and losing more decommitments from recruits than they have in the past several years combined, how will this team respond in 2022? The answer to that question likely has a tremendous impact on whether or not the program remains one of the best in all of college football.

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