10 Keys to 10 Wins: #6

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
#8: Punt Team Improvement
#7: Freshmen Must be Ready

#6: Offensively, Open it Up
While the Tigers' offense showed consistent improvement under first-year coordinator Rob Spence in 2005, there were times when conservative play calling did more harm than good.

Case in point: the Boston College game.

The Tigers had the ball at their own 31 with 1:14 left to play in a tied ballgame. Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst threw an incomplete pass on first down, and two running plays followed, causing the home crowd of 79,000 to moan as Clemson was forced to punt and give the Eagles a shot at winning.

"I was coaching and trying to win the game," Spence said of not trying to settle for overtime. "I was just trying to put us into a position to win the game at that point."

While Spence's philosophy refuses to allow the offense to "lose the game," the Tigers will have to "open it up" more this season to be successful.

"We've installed so much more now so that teams are going to have to be prepared for when they play us," Proctor said.
And the good news is, with nearly every major contributor coming back on offense, that shouldn't be too big of a problem.

Not only does ACC Rookie of the Year James Davis return as the starting running back, but the Tigers will also have the services of All-ACC receiver Chansi Stuckey and nine of the top 10 offensive linemen from last year's team, not to mention freshman wide out Jacoby Ford and freshman running back C.J. Spiller- two of the more highly recruited prospects in the country from a year ago.

In addition, the Tigers will also have a starting quarterback that is slightly more tailored to Spence's offense in Will Proctor. Proctor is more mobile than his predecessor Charlie Whitehurst and that mobility should be a big reason why the Tigers will be more effective in red-zone situations.

Also, it is important to remember the entire team will understand more of this offense with a year of experience already under its belt.

"I think we all have more confidence in what we are doing in this offense," Proctor said. "We've installed so much more now so that teams are going to have to be prepared for when they play us."

Yes the Tigers' offense improved dramatically last season, especially in total yards and turnovers, but if this team is to get to 10 wins this year, Spence will have to open it up a little more in a conference that traditionally features some of the top defenses in the country.

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