This week, in the 2nd to final issue of The Smoldering Ruin, we take a look back at an unexpectedly unbelievably positive result for Clemson Football in Charlotte last weekend. The energy was low on Saturday but suddenly there was a change in posture.
Two offensive drives in and I was done.
I had admitted that Clemson would be rolling with DJ, and we just had to hope that the Clemson defense (which initially looked shaky) would finally figure it out. Clemson started with 3 straight passes and the first was in the dirt.
You could feel the collective “ugh” on the 1st play.
A buddy texted me from the game that Cade is warming up. I didn’t believe him. But lo and behold, he was there on the 3rd trip. I had very little faith in playcalling. After all, it was the same personnel who had gotten him into trouble on his only South Bend drive.
But as soon as he completed his first pass, it skipped. He completed a downfield pass. He threw a touchdown. He dropped an absolute nuke on a redshirt recipient who hadn’t seen much action. From that point on, Clemson looked like……well, Clemson again.
The scoreboard at the end of the night read 39-10, but for the first time in nearly two years, Clemson saw a third row QB play against the P5 opposition. Where had that been all season? Why wait until now?
Like most of you, I asked these questions in frustration during and after the game. It was a coaching mistake, there’s no doubt about that. But even though it was a week late, it came anyway, bringing a rejuvenated sense of optimism to the program that hasn’t been there since Trevor Lawrence left.
The Orange Bowl is now becoming a litmus test for 2023, not in the sense that it’s another referendum on the agenda, but more of an opportunity to see where Clemson’s young studs stand against an SEC team. It also gives us a chance to see what changes need to be made in the offseason after Clemson appears to have found a quarterback who poses a legitimate threat.
As a fan, it was hard for me to emotionally follow Saturday’s game after what we saw against South Carolina, but now I can’t help but reopen that big bottle of hope that I sealed and put in the fridge had asked.
After the Orange Bowl, Clemson Football will have many fascinating off-season storylines
That hope couples with the intriguing storylines we can expect to see in the off-season. Who will Clemson get out of the portal (there’s a need, it’s a matter of “who”, not “will they”)? Will there be personnel changes or fluctuations? Will legislation be passed to allow for more field workers, and will Clemson capitalize on that?
By this time last week I had pretty much dismissed those questions with a negative pessimistic mindset after the Palmetto Bowl loss that has now slowly been filled with some hopeful optimism and…dare I say excitement.
In the 1st 2 Orange Bowls under Dabo, I was sick because I had previously lost to the Gamecocks and didn’t see the foundation being laid. This time, however, I can’t help but watch with a little more energy, fueled by the idea that in 2023 these young stars have a chance to take the world by storm.
On to Miami