Call it bad luck. Blame it on former offensive coordinator Mike O'Cain. Say it was because he didn't have his old weapons at wide receiver.
Paint whatever picture you want, no matter how you slice it, Charlie Whitehurst and the Clemson offense came nowhere close to preseason expectations last year.
Funny thing is, it all started during spring practice, and it continued to build throughout the 2004 season.
For numerous reasons, the Tigers' offense could never get on track, and Whitehurst's numbers reflected that very fact. For the season, he completed 177-of-349 passes (51%) for 2067 yards, seven touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
This spring, Whitehurst will have a new offense to learn, a new coordinator to work with, and a new quarterbacks coach to learn from.
How well the senior signal caller can grasp all the "newness" will likely go a long ways in determining how successful the Tigers' 2005 campaign can be.
Of course, Rob Spence will serve as the dominating force in most Whitehurst's development, as the former Toledo assistant coach will take over as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Clemson.
Spence, while limited in what he can do before spring practice, has already hinted that his new offense will focus on multiple formations, and a balanced attack that can feature both a normal speed and an up tempo version.
For Whitehurst himself, the change can only be good.
The Tigers finished 110th in the country in total offense in 2004, and the reasons for that dismal performance were numerous.
Highlighted by the lack of an early season running game, combined with strange play calling, and a tremendous lack of production at wide receiver, Joe Montana himself would have had difficulty directing the Tigers' offensive unit.
"It always seemed like we were really close," Whitehurst said after the season. "It was always a play or two where we had the chance to make something happen. It just never did."
This spring, Whitehurst will have the chance to put last year's disappointing season performance behind him. And with NFL scouts closely watching, and with a new offensive coordinator with a proven track record of developing quarterbacks on his side, anything is possible.
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