Clemson’s Playoff Chances:
Had Swinney made the decision to start Cade Klubnik, the Tigers could have potentially overcome their regular-season loss to South Carolina, which was marred by Uiagalelei’s interceptions. A win in that game, followed by a victory in the ACC Championship Game, could have propelled Clemson into the College Football Playoff. This alternate scenario would have painted a different narrative for the Tigers, focusing on their playoff appearance and the possibility of a title run.
Offensive Spark and Talent:
One of the concerns for Clemson’s offense has been its ability to consistently perform at a high level. Klubnik, a highly-rated recruit, possesses immense potential and could have injected new life into the Tigers’ offense. Combine his talent with the presence of dynamic running back Will Shipley and the guidance of offensive coordinator Garrett Riley, and Clemson’s offense could have seen a significant improvement. Riley’s previous success at TCU suggests that he has the ability to make an immediate impact.
While the offense has been a point of concern, Clemson’s defense has remained formidable. Even in what was considered a down year, their defense ranked 10th in expected points added per play against, showcasing their dominance. With a linebacker duo of Jeremiah Trotter Jr. and Barrett Carter, widely regarded as one of the best in the country, and the potential return of Xavier Thomas on the defensive line, the Tigers’ defense would have remained a force to be reckoned with.
Comparing Talent Levels:
Clemson boasts one of the most talented rosters in the country, as evidenced by their No. 5 ranking in 247sports.com’s 2023 team talent composite. This talent, combined with the potential offensive spark and the strength of their defense, further reinforces the idea that Clemson could have been a serious contender for the College Football Playoff had certain coaching decisions been made differently.
The Duke Blue Devils Matchup:
Looking ahead, the Clemson Tigers are set to face the Duke Blue Devils in a highly anticipated game. Duke, coming off a successful season with a positive turnover differential, faces a daunting task against a talented Clemson team. The national audience will be tuning in to witness this clash, and the Tigers have the opportunity to make a statement with a dominant performance.
While it’s impossible to rewrite history, contemplating alternate scenarios can provide insight into the potential outcomes of different coaching decisions. In this hypothetical situation, if Dabo Swinney had chosen to start Cade Klubnik over DJ Uiagalelei, the Clemson Tigers could have been a Playoff team last season. However, the upcoming game against the Duke Blue Devils serves as a reminder that despite the what-ifs, Clemson remains a force to be reckoned with in college football. Their talent, coupled with the potential offensive spark and defensive prowess, makes them a formidable opponent for any team.
Prediction: Clemson -12.5
O/U 54.5 -110
Clemson ML -500
Duke ML +375
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