When walking around campus last season, center Dalton Freeman sensed Clemson students had become numb to losing. Not this year, Freeman said, acknowledging the depression befalling campus after the Georgia Tech loss. But fear not Clemson Nation, there are still a number of reasons to remain hopeful about the Tigers' prospects following their bye week.
If fans had any doubt about how valuable Andre Ellington is to Clemson, examine the six games the Berkeley High School product has missed or been severely limited in dating back to last October: Clemson is 2-4 in those games, including a loss at Georgia Tech last weekend. Ellington is not only one of Clemson's most productive running backs in program history, he is also valuable in pass protection and protects the football. Coach Dabo Swinney said Ellington will be "rocking and rolling" following the bye week. Clemson also needs to get tight end Dwayne Allen (turf toe) nearer full health. He was unable to run deep routes against Georgia Tech. Allen says his toe condition is improving but was held out of practice this week.
Clemson coaches do not have to look far for evidence on how quickly a season can fall apart. In 2000, Clemson was 8-0 before losing to Georgia Tech and then closing with two losses in three games, squandering an ACC title and Orange Bowl berth. The Tigers need to put the loss behind them quickly and there should be no shortage of motivation: the program can win its first ACC title since 1991, earn its first Orange Bowl trip since 1982, and first 10-win season since 1990.
3. Tajh Boyd
Tajh Boyd wants to win badly and it's the quarterback who most sets the leadership tone. Boyd said the only thing worse than losing is a death in the family. Boyd has lost just three times as a starting quarterback dating back to his high school career. In his first nine games as a starter at Clemson, Boyd has thrown 25 touchdowns and won eight times.
4. Best for last
Clemson has outscored opponents 189 to 94 in the second half this season, including outscoring Georgia Tech in the second half last week. Clemson's tempo and ability to make adjustments should give the team an edge down the stretch.
5. Less charitable
Assuming Clemson's four-turnover game at Georgia Tech was an outlier, Clemson should return to enjoying a positive turnover margin going forward. Clemson turned the ball over just eight times in its first 626 plays, which seems to be a better sample than the four turnovers in 65 plays at Georgia Tech.