5 Keys to 10 Wins

No, the world has not come to an end, but a quick look at the CUTigers.com message boards might suggest otherwise. Believe it or not, 10 wins is still very much obtainable by the his football team this season. Today, CUTigers presents its subscribers with how the Tigers can get there after back-to-back losses.

1. The Mad Scientist Needs to Get Mad
In each of the last two weeks it has become somewhat obvious that opposing defenses have begun to figure out how to defend Clemson's horizontal passing attack. That doesn't mean what offensive coordinator Rob Spence likes to do will no longer work, but it does mean it he may need to deviate from his typical game day philosophy to close the season with two wins. Those close to the program have said that Spence enters the game with a dynamite package but then tends to get conservative with his calls with the game on the line. Given Spence's success in his first two seasons calling plays, it's hard to argue with anything he does, however, the last two games have given a clear blueprint how to stop Clemson's offense. Something must change in order to open things back up. Whether that's stretching the field more with a vertical passing attack or getting creative with James Davis and C.J. Spiller, something needs to be slightly altered to keep the opposition on its heels. Of course, the play of Will Proctor also figures mightily into this equation.

2. Proctor Must Play Out of This World
Will Proctor doesn't need to just play good during these last two games, he needs to play out of his mind and that means creating the kinds of big plays he made at the beginning of the season against Florida State and Boston College. His stats against Maryland were more than respectable, but it was obvious throughout the game his confidence was still somewhat in doubt. The good news is that he seemed to play better in stretches during the second half and there are signs his confidence is returning. Tommy Bowden suggested during Sunday's teleconference that Proctor could stand to get better at his progressions on game day but insiders tell us Proctor makes all those reads during practice with no problems. Thus the key could reside with Proctor taking his weekly success on the practice fields with him on Saturday. He's done it before and if he can get into a rhythm in these last two games, he'll do it again.

3. Red Zone Production Must Increase
The Tigers were 0-for-4 in scoring touchdowns red zone situations during Saturday's 13-12 setback to Maryland. In fact, it's now been seven quarters since Clemson last scored a touchdown of any kind. Obviously, that has to change over these next two games. How it changes starts with more aggressive play calling and better play up front. Bowden has often said the holes are smaller for James Davis and C.J. Spiller in red zone situations. Those holes need to get a little bigger and the backs have to make something happen when given the opportunity. The onus also falls on the shoulders of Will Proctor, who must get the ball into the end zone when given the opportunity. Simply put, there needs to be better execution from the players near the goal line.

4. Pretend South Carolina & N.C. State are Good Teams
Clearly, the next two games will be about attitude. The Tigers are a 15 point favorite over N.C. State and will likely be a double digit favorite over South Carolina should they beat the Wolfpack and the Gamecocks fall on the road at Florida. N.C. State has proven to be one of the biggest Jekyll and Hyde teams of the last five years and has no business winning in Death Valley this weekend. South Carolina is still South Carolina. The Gamecocks are better coached under Steve Spurrier but still have no business winning more than six games this year with a remaining schedule that includes road games at Florida and Clemson. Surely newly appointed starter Blake Mitchell will be waiting to implode by the time late November comes around, or maybe by then it will be Syvelle Newton again as Spurrier continues to play musical chairs at quarterback. But for Clemson, the key will be to recognize that these two programs have to be treated like the kingpins of the college football world. Why? Because the Tigers generally play better football against tough competition- especially at home and especially with their back against the wall. It's all about attitude these last two games. Clemson will be the better team on both occasions, but the mindset of the players will be better served with "back against the wall" mentality that has worked so well in previous years.

#5. Big Plays on Both Sides
Think back for a second to the Wake Forest game. With Clemson trailing by 14 points entering the start of the fourth quarter, Gaines Adams made a play on a botched field goal attempt that changed the momentum of the game more than any other play in any other game in recent memory. After rumbling 66-yards for a touchdown, the floodgates opened to the tune of 24 fourth quarter points. While a play like that happens once every year or two, there has been a desperate need for a big play on either side of the ball in each of the last two games. Sure, the Tigers forced a couple of turnovers and had a big run or two, but none of those plays resulted in points on the board. Whether its a turnover returned for a touchdown, a special teams blunder cashed in for seven points or an 80-yard bomb to speedster Jacoby Ford, this team needs something good to happen in the big-play department to help re-ignite this team.

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