Regular Season Review: Clemson

CUTigers.com's Hale McGranahan reviews Clemson's regular season and looks to the future.

1. With the regular season over, has Clemson met or failed expectations?

There are probably varying opinions on this, but I'm of the opinion that they met expectations.

Clemson SID Tim Bourret had to be one of the hardest working dudes on college football Saturdays keeping track of all the school/conference records that were set by the Tigers this season. Led by Tajh Boyd, that hurry-up, no-huddle offense took another step forward under second-year offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who remains one of the hottest assistant coaches in the country.

However, things didn't go so well on defense. But that was to be expected for a couple of different reasons. The three best players from the 2011 defense, which also struggled, are now in the NFL -- end Andre Branch, tackle Brandon Thompson and cornerback Coty Sensabaugh. Plus, there was a new scheme to learn under first-year coordinator Brent Venables.

Point is: there were bound to be some bumps in the road for the defense.

Two games will leave some Clemson fans with a bitter taste, and understandably so. They lost the two biggest games of the season, both of which cost them a chance at meeting two of the five team goals -- an ACC title and a state championship.

But think about this for a second: this was the first 10-win regular season for Clemson since 1981.

2. What one player has made the difference this season?

Boyd was the difference maker, no question about it. The guy made tons of plays through the air with his arm and on the ground with his feet. He was named first-team All-American by the AFCA and voted ACC Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year. So far this season, Boyd ranks fourth in the nation in passing efficiency. He also set the ACC record for touchdown responsibility in a season with 43, and also tied the conference's record for touchdown passes with 34.

3. What are the key improvements that need to be made before the bowl game?

Although LSU's passing game isn't exactly a force to be reckoned with, the Clemson secondary is probably the area that's in need of the greatest improvement before the bowl game and in the offseason.

The secondary provided plenty of frustrating moments for Clemson fans. For a group that has so much experience there were too many missed tackles and poor pursuit angles; and too many mistakes in technique and fundamentals.

Some of the problems in the secondary can be attributed to the late season injuries to starting cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland and Darius Robinson. Breeland should be ready to roll for the bowl game while Robinson's status is a little more questionable.

4. What has been the dominant headline of the regular season?

Clemson couldn't afford to not score points this season. You saw that against Florida State and South Carolina, the two games Clemson lost this season.

The Tigers lost to the Seminoles, 49-37, after taking a 21-14 lead into the half. Against South Carolina, Clemson held a 14-10 halftime lead before losing 27-17.

And, had the offense not continued to roll right along against N.C. State, Clemson would have finished the season with three losses.

5. If the recruiting class stays in-tact, what are your expectations for next season?

The most important recruit for Clemson isn't committed to the 2013 class. In fact, he'll never be committed to the 2013 class. That guy is Boyd. And, assuming he is back for his final season of eligibility, Clemson will contend for an ACC Championship and maybe even a national title.

There are a few guys from the 2013 class that could potentially make an impact next season. Defensive back Jayron Kearse, defensive end Shaq Lawson, defensive tackle Scott Pagano, plus running backs Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman are all candidates to make an impact next season.

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