What Happens Now?

In what has to be the most disappointing loss at Clemson in over 5 years, the Tigers simply didn't have the answer for a powerful Wake Forest running attack Saturday afternoon in Winston-Salem. In reality however, an outcome like this cuts much deeper.

Usually at this time, we'd be breaking down the game and grinding out the normal 4 to 5 stories recounting what exactly took place on the field.

This week, things are different.

Dramatically different.

What was witnessed on the field this afternoon in Winston-Salem wasn't indicative of the talent level of this team, nor of what should be expected from the Clemson football program.

Simply put, Wake Forest was dominant in every sense of the word Saturday. No matter what kind of picture the statistics may paint, the Demon Deacons were the superior team by far. And that my friends, is perhaps most difficult statement to digest out of this mess.

Wake Forest has overachieved all year long. The Deacons opened the season with magnificent wins over Boston College (on the road mind you) and N.C. State. Saturday, they added a third impressive victory to the mix with a 45-17 thrashing of the Clemson Tigers.

The misdirection offense that was feared by the Clemson coaching staff reared it's ugly head in the worst possible way as the Deacs ran up 321 yards on the ground. In fact, Wake Forest only attempted 7 passes all game long.

That's a grand total of 7 times the ball was put in the air, and the Tigers still couldn't stop it. When you read that again, the only thing you can really do is sit there and scratch your head and wonder what in the hell actually happened once these two lined up Saturday.

In reality, a loss like this can be so humbling, so destructive, that it almost makes no sense to overanalyze the 135 things that went wrong.

To the average fan, you could say it was the offense not executing, the defense suffering through another case of poor tackling, the abundance of turnovers, lack of motivation, and just about everything else under the sun. But all of that is now over with.

At least for another week.

What's important going forward is that the proper steps are taken to insure that this sort of thing doesn't happen again.

What that means at this point is anybody's guess, but you have to figure that Terry Don Phillips is watching what is taking place on the field, and watching closely. How could he not be?

Losing by 28 points to a program that has trouble filling a 30,000 stadium on a regular basis is an eye opener for everyone involved in the Clemson program.

Let's face the facts; it's downright painful.

It's especially painful because this game represented the umpteenth time that this team has had the opportunity to turn the corner. It's also especially painful because we are starting to see some of the same problems from a year ago creep back into the picture.

And finally, it's especially painful because you just don't want to admit that it may be time to make a change.

It's obvious at this point that time is running out for Tommy Bowden and his career at Clemson University. The success of the 2000 season has long since passed us all by. The offensive records that have fallen during his career here haven't equaled wins on the football field.

Sure, many people will go on and start bashing certain aspects of the program, but I'm not here to do that. The way I see things, you can look at the rest of the season in two distinct ways.

If you are an optimist, you can do two things.

1) You can choose to believe that Terry Don Phillips holds all the cards in this ordeal, and that he will ultimately lead the football program back to national prominence.

After all, he does have a proven track record throughout the course of his career of knowing what to do in these type of situations.

2) Keep supporting the team by showing up for the remaining home games against Florida State and Duke, and also make the trip down to Columbia for the season finale against South Carolina.

On the contrary, if you are pessimist, you can walk out on the Tigers, the coaching staff, and the University and wait until things get turned around before you bring yourself back to Death Valley.

I choose to be an optimist. What about you?

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