With the 2017 Clemson Football Spring Game set for Saturday, what five storylines should fans be keeping an eye on with Dabo Swinney’s squad?
It took 35 years for them to reach this point again, but the Clemson Tigers are eyeing the 2017 college football season as defending National Champions. Led by Deshaun Watson and under the guidance of the increasingly legendary Dabo Swinney as head coach, they redeemed themselves from their loss in the previous title game to top the Alabama Crimson Tide.
But now it’s time for their title defense and, plainly, it’s not going be an easy task. Clemson comes into a new season having lost a ton of talent and leadership on both sides of the ball. Watson, Mike Williams, Ben Boulware and plenty of others are now awaiting their NFL draft fates. Meanwhile, the program they’ve departed is preparing for the 2017 Clemson Football Spring Game on Saturday, April 8.
Obviously we won’t be able to tell from a glorified scrimmage whether or not the Tigers will repeat as champions. However, there will be plenty of opportunities to forecast what this new-look team under Swinney is going to look like in the 2017 season. And with their plentiful and impactful departures, there are a number of things to look for.
But what are the five biggest things to watch for in the 2017 Clemson Football Spring Game? Let’s take a look.
5. Motivation and Spirit
In any sport at any level, it’s cliched to talk about the championship hangover. After winning a title, teams have a tendency to either rest on their laurels and not have the same level of commitment to winning or they simply can’t withstand the onslaught from having a massive target on their backs. Even if it’s a tired narrative, it’s far from unproven. Thus, the first thing that we need to be looking for in the 2017 Clemson Football Spring Game is where they’re at mentally.
Yes, many key contributors are gone from the National Championship team. There’s no risk of Deshaun Watson or Mike Williams letting up for the Tigers because they’re awaiting the announcement of where they’ll start their NFL careers at the end of April. With that said, there are still plenty of returning players and the same coaching staff in place. Therefore, the risk of this team even showing a modicum of complacency still exists.
With Clemson’s back-to-back trips to the National Championship Game, we’ve seen that Dabo Swinney is a tremendous leader and motivator of men. He does a ton of things well as a college football coach, but that might be his greatest strength. But will that change following a National Championship? Will the ever-entertaining Dabo fire burn a little tamer in the 2017 season? This team can’t afford for it to given the talent they lost. Thus, the mentality of the Tigers is something worth noting.