10 Keys to 10 Wins: #9

For the first time since 2003, the Clemson football team will play a 12-game regular season schedule. And for the first time in a long time, Tiger fans are realistically talking about what it will take to get back to the 10-win plateau for the first time since 1990.

"This is again a very challenging schedule," said head coach Tommy Bowden. "We will face seven teams that won at least seven games last year, including two of the top teams in the ACC within our first three games, both on the road. Plus, we have to go to Virginia Tech, who won more games than any other ACC team last year."

While it's true the Tigers won't have to face Miami and Texas A&M this year, the team will face its fair share of challenges, including road games at Florida State and Boston College in two of the first three games of the year and playing 11 consecutive weeks to open the season.

"That is a positive if you get on a roll, like we did in 2000 (when Clemson played the first 10 weeks of the season), but it can be a negative if you run into injury problems," said Bowden.

So what will it take to win the ACC's Atlantic Division, challenge for a BCS berth and win 10 games for the first time in 15 years?

Today CUTigers continues our 10-part series, taking a look at what must happen in 2006 to get the football program to the proverbial "next level."

#10: No Slip-ups

9. More Mr. Clutch
Clemson kicker Jad Dean was one of the top players in the country at his position in 2005, and it all started with a 42-yard game-winning field goal in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter against Texas A&M in the season opener.

"I've never been in that situation before where a team was trying to ice me," the Clemson kicker said of his first pressure kick. "I just kept to myself and tried to think nothing. I didn't want to get too technical."

For the season, Dean would go on to set a Clemson record with 24 field goals. He also finished third in the nation in the same category, was named a finalist for the Lou Groza Award and led the ACC in scoring with 106 points.

Last season Jad Dean established a Clemson record for field goals in a season with 24 and he was third in the nation. That number is also tied for second most in a season in ACC history. He broke Obed Ariri's old record with two field goals in the Champs Sports Bowl against Colorado.
The rising senior out of Greenwood was also a big reason the Tigers led the ACC in red-zone scoring percentage.

In 2005, Clemson either scored a touchdown or field goal once it entered the red-zone in 43 out of 47 opportunities for a 91.5 percentage.

The good news is the Tigers generally converted red-zone opportunities into points. The bad news is that 42% of those drives (18 out of 43) ended up with field goals instead of touchdowns.

Fortunately for Clemson, Dean connected on 24-of-31 of his overall attempts (77%) last season and 18-of-20 (90%) in red-zone situations.

Yes the argument can be made that the Tigers need to see a little less of Dean when it comes to kicking field goals this season, but at the same time, it will be just as critical for Dean to be as dependable as he was a year ago with the game on the line.

Considering seven of Clemson's 12 games were decided by six points or less last year, and with road games at Boston College, Florida State and Virginia Tech this season, Dean will have to be Mr. Clutch again if the Tigers plan to get to 10 wins.

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