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The Tiger

Compared to last year, Clemson is right where it needs to be

Katie Bradham // Senior Photographer

Clemson running back Will Shipley (1) celebrates with fans during the Tigers’ game against Louisi-ana Tech in Memorial Stadium on Sept. 17, 2022.

While the Clemson football team has had a whirlwind of a season thus far, the Tigers are exactly where they need to be heading into their bye week: undefeated and on pace to capture the ACC Atlantic Division. 
It’s been long first three-quarters of the regular season, including a double-overtime game against Wake Forest in Week 4 and last week’s fourth quarter comeback against Syracuse. 
Still, with the Tigers’ 27-21 win over the Orange, Clemson is the only team in the country with a perfect 8-0 record.
Compared to where Clemson stood in Week 9 of last season, the Tigers are in a far better position.
Through eight games last year, Clemson was 5-3 and out of College Football Playoff contention.
With the team’s performance thus far, the Tigers are in a prime position to make their case for a Playoff spot and can secure a trip to the ACC Championship game with a win against Louisville on Nov. 12.
If Clemson does go on to take the division crown, it would start a new streak, as the Tigers failed to win the Atlantic last season for the first time since 2014.
First thing first, however, is a break.
Unlike most teams across the country, Clemson has its first bye of the season this week. After a grueling eight straight weeks, it’s coming at an opportune time for head coach Dabo Swinney and his team.
“This is eight games in a row, and you have four weeks of camp, so we’ve been going for 12 or 13 weeks straight with these guys,” Swinney said. “This is a great time for the break for us, and we’ll use it well and get ready for another tough matchup.”
“We need to gain momentum and not lose momentum. We need to get well and get rested. It’s always a good time for coaches to reflect a little bit and hopefully get a little head start on Notre Dame.”
One of the coaches who will reflect alongside Swinney is Brandon Streeter.
The first-year offensive coordinator has led a far better offensive unit than what the team displayed in 2021. 
While the unit hasn’t been perfect and even dealt with a quarterback change last week against Syracuse, the Tigers have the bye to clean up and learn from mistakes.
“There can’t be a better time for an off week,” Streeter said. “We’ve been going at it for eight straight weeks, and we have an opportunity to rest up a little bit and recommit.”
On the other side of the ball, it’s the same story for defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin, who will use the off week to keep working on his unit.
“It’s going to be a great two weeks to get healthy and just catch our breath a little bit,” he said.
The possibility of reclaiming the Atlantic Division title looms large, but the initial focus will be on Notre Dame, as Clemson will travel to South Bend, Ind., to take on the Fighting Irish on Nov. 5.
The Tigers will then complete their regular season with home matchups against Louisville, Miami and South Carolina.
For a team that struggled to win nearly every game last season, Clemson has a ripe opportunity to return to the top of the mountain top one week, and one game at a time.

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