ACCN Analyst Expecting ‘Battle’ In Atlantic Division

Count former Clemson OL Eric Mac Lain as one of those not yet sure what to expect from the Tigers on offense in the coming season.

The ACCN analyst recently made an appearance on The Packer and Durham Show to discuss the battle for the ACC Atlantic in 2022 and Mac Lain thinks both NC State and Wake Forest are capable of giving Clemson a run for its money.

“I think until proven otherwise, yeah,” Mac Lain said when asked if he expected Clemson to have competition in the division. “I mean, what is D.J. going to be, what is this offense going to be from Clemson? We have to see it.”

“Now, defensively, I think they’re going to be one of the best, if not the best in the country. But it also speaks to what NC State has done and who they have coming back and the team that they’ll have, as well as Wake Forest.”

Much of the questions surrounding the Clemson offense have centered around quarterback play as DJ Uiagalelei was inconsistent in his first season as the full-time starter. And Mac Lain didn’t think there was enough to see in the spring game to make an informed decision either way regarding how much Uiagalelei has improved.

“It’s not so much as it just totally has fallen apart.” Mac Lain said. “But you saw the spring game, there wasn’t much glimpse of it. It was vanilla and you can’t hit the quarterback, so we don’t know how mobile he’s going to be. But until proven otherwise, that Clemson offense has to regain some trust.”

Mac Lain also questioned what Clemson’s identity might be on the offensive side of the ball. With Phil Mafah getting all of the first-team reps in the spring, the Tigers’ running game could be as strong as it’s ever been in the Dabo Swinney era.

“It’s going to be interesting, what is that going to be?” Mac Lain said. “Because we saw at the end of the season, when they went on that run to win 10 games, they ran the football… a lot. They used those three running backs, and this spring, Shipley was hurt, Pace was hurt, Mafah was the guy. And I think that without that happening, which you never want anybody injured, but without that happening, the silver lining is Mafah has emerged. Now, it’s a three-headed monster. I mean, give those guys the rock.”

However, the Tigers have been at their best when they get elite-level quarterback play, and no matter how good the running game is, in order for Clemson to compete for a national title, or maybe even an ACC title, an improved offense is a must.

“But in the same breath, quarterback play is how you win,” Mac Lain said. “That’s how you win in college football, that’s how you win in the NFL. And so at the end of the day, DJ has to take the necessary steps, be more accurate, be more on time, and his wide receivers have to help him. They have to catch the ball. They had a drop rate last year that was the most we’ve seen in a long time from Clemson. So, offensively, got to get it going, got to figure it out. I’m sure they will, but until they show that, you’ve got to think it (the Atlantic) is going to be a battle.”

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