Spot The Ball

Football season is finally here! And, not a moment too soon. The preseason has been analyzed, over-analyzed, and really over-analyzed. This Saturday we will all make the trip over to Clemson to watch our beloved Tigers take the field.

Each week from here on out, I will outline my "5 Things To Watch" each week. The following week, I will grade out those 5 things before listing another 5 items for the following week. Hopefully, this will give you something to pass the time during the week as you prepare for the game.

Receivers…Young And Old
There is no doubt that my eyes will focus on #25 and #9 as I enter the stadium Saturday. Roscoe Crosby and Airese Currie bring more expectations and excitement than any recruits in my lifetime. With Kevin Youngblood's injury, there is no question that Currie and Crosby must step up for the Clemson offense to excel. How well they adapt to the college game, and live action against an opponent, is still to be determined. And, while the outcome of the Central Florida game may not rests in their hands, future games against better teams will no doubt rest in their hands.

But, almost as important is how the veteran receivers step up in the absence of Youngblood. Jackie Robinson, Derek Hamilton, Joe Don Reames, and J.J. McKelvey will have the eyes of Tiger fans upon them. Hamilton may be the star this year; he certainly has enough talent to fill those shoes. How these "older" receivers step up in a game situation will be very interesting to watch.

Defensive Secondary
Central Florida will almost certainly test the Clemson secondary right off the bat. Many from the UCF camp think the Golden Knights will throw the ball up to 50 times Saturday, which will give the secondary plenty of work to start the season. We should have a good idea of how good these guys will be under "live bullets" by about 4:00 Saturday. If anybody walks away thinking we did not do a great job in coverage against UCF, then the nerves will start to take hold as we think forward to Georgia Tech, NC State, and Florida State.

The secondary will build upon confidence, and here is one guy that hopes that they do well Saturday so they can begin to gain confidence in their skills. A poor showing might do terrible things to their confidence…not a good recipe for the season.

Offensive Play Calling
It is no secret from loyal Tiger fans that the offense got a tad bit conservative under the second year tutelage of Rich Rodriquez. Not Tommy West conservative, mind you. But the offense lacked the overall imagination that it had in 1999. Brad Scott and Mike O'cain have vowed to throw the ball downfield more in 2001. In addition, both have made numerous comments to the effect that the offense will have a little more spunk this year.

With Woodrow under center, this offense will never develop into a pure drop back attack, but it does not take a genius to see that the Tiger offense neglected the middle of the field during pass routes last year. Under Scott, with the two great tight ends in McClinton and Hall, expect to see the middle of the field utilized more effectively. This should open up the long pass and the running game even more than in 2000.

Should We Worry About UCF?
I don't know much about UCF, and I really don't care. Central Florida is certainly a big step up from The Citadel, and the Golden Knights are no stranger to big games against major college football teams. But, to sit here and try to break down the match ups is simply ludicrous. Clemson should win Saturday, and the Tigers should win easily.

Should we be proud if Clemson wins by 40? Nope. UCF is not Georgia Tech or Florida State, so we can't take a tremendous amount of pride in winning big. Should we be worried if the Tigers only win by 10? Yes, and no. I think it was Danny Ford that said, "A win is a win, is a win". Being 1-0 is the goal, but only winning by 10 points will be troubling. Central Florida may be better…or at least as good as, Wake, Duke, and Maryland. But there are much bigger fish to fry in the ACC, and skimming by UCF would not be a good omen.

South Stands Renovation
Whether completed or not, the South Stands renovations will be looked at, and critiqued, by those who see it. Preliminary ratings for the renovations are less than stellar, and with Clemson pushing this Tiger Pride campaign, I wonder if negative reactions will hurt the fundraising project. I walked through the South Stands this past weekend. While there is still work to be done, I like what I see. The problem lies with the fact that the reality of the renovations does not match the pictures published. Either the artist is too good, or the architects are not what they cracked up to be. Or, Clemson got cheap. You be the judge this weekend.

So, there are this week's five things to look at as we enter the 2001 season. I said it once, and I'll say it again.

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