Five Questions for the Upcoming Season

With the season slowly coming closer into view, we can officially begin to take a closer look at the prospects for the Tigers in 2001. Below are 5 questions and answers I offer to you that will shape the year in Tiger football.

Remember, I don't have a 900 number and I don't have special powers to see into the future. What I have is an ounce of common sense and enough guts to make predictions that will either make me look like a genius, or an idiot.

#1. Will Woodrow Danztler win the Heisman Trophy Award?

No. While Woody is one of the most exciting players in the country, he will not win the Heisman in 2001. And it is not because he could not win it with statistics alone. If Woodrow were to become the first quarterback to throw for 2000 yards and rush for 1000 yards in the same season, (a feat he came close to achieving in 2000) it would be hard for the voters not to give the award to him. The problem is, Woodrow's style for playing the game is not conducive to avoiding injury the entire season. He takes too many pops to expect an injury not to occur. And, without reaching that magical 2000/1000 stat, Woodrow almost certainly will be overlooked in the voting. However, it is not too far fetched to expect Woodrow to be a finalist and get his invitation to the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City for the announcement.

#2. Will Clemson Win The ACC Title In 2001?

No. Clemson is still second-class material compared to Florida State, and Georgia Tech remains a step ahead of the Tigers in talent and coaching. I continue to be amused with those who are predicting a down year for FSU. Folks, it just is not going to happen. FSU has more talent outside of it's two deep than Clemson has starting. Could the Tigers upset FSU in Clemson? Of course they could. But, in theory, I could eat 1000 hotdogs in 10 minutes. What could happen and what probably will happen are two completely different things. Beating Georgia Tech is a little more realistic; especially considering Ralph Friedgen is now coaching at Maryland. Winning in Atlanta will not be easy, but I could see a scenario where the Tigers go into the bee hive and win. Outside of those two conference games, scary games remain with NC State, Virginia, and North Carolina. For Clemson to win the ACC Championship, it would take a minimum of a 7-1 conference slate, and that simply is not going to happen.

#3. Will Clemson Beat USC Again In 2001?

Maybe. The Gamecocks are as good on paper as they ever have been. The end of November is a long way away, but the Gamecocks would be slight favorite if the game were played tomorrow. Defensively, USC looks very scary but the offense remains a big question mark, in my mind. Phil Petty's health will play a huge factor in the success or failure of the Gamecocks as the year goes on. I almost sense that the Gamecocks are due to win this year, given the Tigers have a four game winning streak in the series. The thing Clemson has going for it is that the Gamecocks may want to beat the Tigers too much. Last years loss will be fresh on the mind of the Gamecock players, and the USC coaches will have a heavy task in keeping the players grounded. In the two pervious four game winning streaks the Tigers had over USC since 1980, the streak was broken in dramatic fashion. In 1984, Mike Hold and the Gamecocks rallied from a 21-6 deficit to defeat the Tigers 22-21 in Clemson. That game not only broke Clemson's 4 game winning streak over the Gamecocks, but it was the first time the Tigers lost in their famous orange pants. The second four game winning streak since 1980 ended in 1992 when a spunky freshman quarterback named Steve Tannyhill signed his name on the Tiger Paw at midfield after directing his team to a 24-13 win in Clemson. Expect similar fireworks in Columbia this year, it has all the makings of one heck of a football game.

#4. Will Clemson's Defense Be Better In 2001?

Yes. Before you wonder what in the world I am smoking, let me explain. With the exception of the Georgia Tech, FSU, and Virginia Tech games, the Tiger defense ranged from dominant to very good. Before the Georgia Tech game, the Tiger defense was ranked in the top 10 nationally in several statistical categories. Then, of course, the wheels came off. There is no reason to believe that the defense will not be able to beat up on the inferior opponents again this year. And, things look a little better on paper this year versus the teams that took the Tiger defense to task last year. While I think that Georgia Tech is a very good football team, I also think that the Jackets will lose a half step with the loss of the brilliant Ralph Friedgen. The Seminoles, as I stated earlier, are going to be as good as ever this year, especially at the end of the year when the Tigers play them. But, Chris Weinke is playing pro ball, and the Tigers are playing at home. It is hard for me to imagine the Noles drubbing the Tigers like last year. It would be almost impossible for the defense to play any worse than it did in Tallahassee last year. Finally, the Tigers don't play Virginia Tech, or Michael Vick, unless the two teams meet up in a bowl game again. Even if the Tigers end up facing the Hokies in a bowl game, there is no way whomever quarterbacks Tech will be even close to Michael Vick in talent. So, if you are asking me will the defense be better statistically this year than last, I would have to answer to you yes. Reggie Herring better hope so.

#5. Will Clemson Win A Bowl Game?

Yes. For the first time under Tommy Bowden, the Tigers will most likely enter a bowl game as the favorite, or very close to it. As I stated earlier, I don't see the Tigers overtaking Georgia Tech and Florida State in the standings this year. Look for the BCS to take either Tech or FSU, and the Gator Bowl to take the other. Remember, the only way Clemson made the Gator Bowl last year was because Georgia Tech had almost made Jacksonville a second home because of the frequency of playing in the New Years Day bowl. That same theory works against the Tigers this year, so don't expect the Gator Bowl to go out of its way to select the Tigers. That probably leaves the Tigers headed back to Atlanta and the Peach Bowl if the season turns out like it should. And while the Tigers were overmatched 2 years ago versus a good Mississippi State team, and completely overmatched last year by Virginia Tech and the best player in college football, no such difficulties will await the Tigers in Atlanta this year. Clemson may not be a favorite in the game, but the Tigers should be on a more even playing field now that Bowden is in his third year in Tiger Town. For the first time since the Tigers defeated Kentucky in the Peach Bowl, Tiger fans may be treated to a bowl victory in 2001.

Now, if only we could fast forward to September. Top Stories