MMQB: Let the games begin

CLEMSON - With the return of football season, Dan Scott is back with his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column for CUTigers.com.

Has it been a year already?

Seems like just yesterday that the bowl game's disappointing end was overshadowed by Dabomania being permanently unleashed (as permanent as a five-year contract can be, anyway) on the Clemson fan base.

My, how time does fly.

For some of you the wait has been interminable. Football, football and more football. That's the creed many in Orange live by. Strangely, the disease infects those of other dominant colors, too. Such is the hold Saturdays have on otherwise seemingly normal folks throughout the South.

Here at the MMQB our focus is strictly on the color Orange, and how much of it might be seen displayed prominently in games of national importance later in the season.

No surprise that we don't have an answer to that one yet. Practice has just begun, after all.

In fact, any fan worth his weight in parking passes can rattle off the list of questions facing the 2009 Clemson Tigers:

Quarterback, wide receiver, kicker, linebacker. Even coaching. There are plenty of unknowns to keep Joe Tractor glued to this website (and its corresponding magazine. Very affordably priced, by the way. See Roy for details).

Those are the obvious puzzles Dabo and Co. have to contend with as full-pad wars commence Monday.

But here at MMQB, we want to go just a bit deeper. We want to explore the game within the game. Or, if you prefer, the questions within the questions.

Such as:

- Dabo has made it very clear. Get No. 28 the ball. Run it. Catch it. Kick it to him. Whatever it takes. After all, there is this little matter of a Heisman Trophy campaign the school started. It would be a shame not give him an opportunity to actually be a factor in the race come December.

But what happens to this offense, and by extension the team, if it has to play without C.J. Spiller for a quarter. Or a half. Or even a full game?


Dabo has made it very clear. Get No. 28 the ball. Run it. Catch it. Kick it to him. Whatever it takes. After all, there is this little matter of a Heisman Trophy campaign the school started.
Or, God forbid, an extended period of time?

Yeah, your stomach went queasy just now. Imagine how the coaches feel. Sure there's a lot of talent behind Spiller. But none of it is proven, at least to the point of being a feature in the offense.

For that matter, Spiller himself is an unknown quantity in one aspect. He's never had 20-25 touches a game over the course of a 12-game regular season. What happens if he can't take the pounding? Who fills the void?

The coaches are searching for answers to those questions in every practice, every film session, every meeting. The ingredients are there. But how do they fit into the blender?

The few paragraphs above weren't meant to cast a pall over this joyful time of undefeated bliss known as the preseason.

It's simply a reminder of how fragile a team's fortunes can be. One guy, at times, can hold much of his school's on-field fortunes in his hands. And C.J. Spiller is the sort of player who can single-handedly alter the course of a game with one quick change of direction.

Yes, football is a team sport. And yes, there will be more to this team than No. 28.

But think about it for a moment. What happens if?

Dabo and Co., you can be sure, are working on a backup plan.

Just in case.

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