Handling the hype

CLEMSON - Tommy Bowden was running the show the last time Clemson opened its season as a Top 10 team. The year was 2008.

And we all remember how the first game of that season turned out and what transpired over the next 11 games.

For the first time since that disastrous 2008 season, which Clemson entered at No. 9 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll, the Tigers are a preseason Top 10 team.

Clemson is No. 8 in this year's opening poll. We'll see if there's some staying power when the Tigers host No. 5 Georgia to kickoff the 2013 campaign.

Josh Watson has no beef when it comes to acknowledging just how big a game that is.

"I could give you the political answer…we should all shoot for the opener, everybody wants to win the opener, that's our first goal. You can't really ignore what's going on in the public," he said. "We see it. As much as the coaches try to shelter us from it, we see the blogs. We see the hype around the game and stuff like that.

"It's a little sense of urgency."

Travis Blanks understands why Clemson is so highly thought of in 2013. He also knows that they'll have to continue dealing with the expectations over the next four weeks. Handling the hype will be part of the battle in August.

"It's all about being humble," Blanks said. "We have to have a humble spirit on this team, because all of the national talk means nothing if we go out there the first game and lay an egg."

That would be all too familiar to the folks who were wearing orange on that fateful night in Atlanta. Though the forgettable season opener with Alabama was only five years ago, a lot has changed around Tigertown since then.

Every player on this season's roster was either in high school or middle school. Dabo Swinney was still the wide receivers coach. Chad Morris was coaching high school football in Texas and Brent Venables was on staff at Oklahoma. Aside from Swinney, Jeff Scott is the only other coach remaining from the 2008 staff, and he was just a graduate assistant for that game.

Times have certainly have changed. Clemson fans just hope the result will be different than the one the last time their team had such high expectations to start a season.

CUTigers.com Top Stories