I’ll start off today’s blog by pointing out how big a fan I am of the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother”. It’s been around for a while, but due to the power of Netflix, I can re-live old episodes whenever I want.
(Seriously, is there a better investment than Netflix? I did the 30-day trial and realized I couldn’t think of a single reason NOT to subscribe.)
Anyway, there’s one particular episode that reminds me a lot of how Clemson fans talk about the Tigers when things start to go in their favor.
One of the characters is telling a story about how she is over an ex-boyfriend that has moved away. Another character, seeing a sheepish look on her face, asks her this question:
“Where’s the poop?”
It was an allusion to a dog she had as a child. The dog would do its business somewhere in the house, and she would know it based on the way the dog looked at her. Throughout the episode, the question “Where’s the poop?” is asked as the cast attempts to get to the actual feelings the first character has on the breakup.
Many fans are asking this same question about Clemson right now. For Tiger fans, it’s certainly justified to ask, “Where’s the poop?” at this point in the season.
Even in my lifetime, seasons that start this way inevitably go down in flames. In 2000, Georgia Tech ended a perfect two-thirds of a season before Florida State obliterated even the slightest hint of a premier bowl berth. In 2011, Georgia Tech did it again, and N.C. State followed with a convincing bludgeoning that sealed the fate of a team that would win the conference but earn nothing more.
Both of those teams had fatal flaws that kept it from attaining true greatness. The 2000 team built up its win total on the back of a weak group of teams, so the collapse happened when the competition got much tougher late in the year. The 2011 squad was uber-young and was crushed underneath the pressure it earned with its early-season performances.
This is the time of the year when people start to look at what’s possible and diagnose the potential pitfalls along the way. I’ve looked for the poop with this Clemson team and have reached the following conclusion:
There isn’t any.
This is a truly elite team. You can tell by the effortless way it scores touchdowns against average opponents. You can tell by the way it forces three-and-outs to offenses that might have at least scored a couple of touchdowns early against lesser defenses in the past. You can tell by the way people automatically count chalk up touchbacks on kickoffs and made field goals as par for the course.
Let me put it another way: Over the past two weeks, Clemson has the largest combined margin of victory of any team in the country. The Tigers have beaten their two opponents—Wake Forest and Syracuse—by 84 points over the past two weeks. Only Oregon (80) and Florida State (77) come close. Alabama (67) wasn’t in the same class despite a contest against Georgia State during that two-week period.
Simply put, the Tigers have been a dominant force over the past two weeks. You won’t find any warts because there aren’t any—at least, not any that show the potential to be this team’s ultimate downfall. Clemson is one of six programs nationally to be ranked in the top 16 in both scoring offense and scoring defense.
This team can run the ball and throw it. This team can stop the run and stop the pass. This team can hang onto the ball and take it away. This team can kick the ball in cutch situations.
Simply put, it is truly a complete team worthy of its ranking. This time, there’s no poop to find, so we might as well stop looking.