During Clemson’s run to back-to-back national championship game appearances the last two seasons, guys like Deon Cain, Ray-Ray McCloud and Hunter Renfrow made their fair share of big plays.
However, none of the three wide receivers were the focal point of Clemson’s fast paced offense, which for the second straight year led the nation in total plays and total yards in 2016. As the Tigers get set to start fall practice this coming Thursday, all three become Clemson’s go-to playmakers.
They have each had their successes the last two years, but how will they handle the pressure of being the guy? Can they handle success? Can they handle failure? Can they forget about the last two years and continue to make Clemson’s offense one of the best in the country?
“I think it is natural for a lot of guys to be concerned, but I think what helps us at Clemson is the culture Coach (Dabo) Swinney has done such a great job of developing,” co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Jeff Scott said. “Every day, these guys are really getting challenged by Coach Swinney to always get better. It is always about what’s next.”
The main thing Swinney has always had his players focus on is having a windshield mentally. In other words, always pay attention to what is in front of them and not what’s behind them. What happened last year has to be the past. What happened last week has to be in the past.
“That rearview mirror of what you have accomplished in the past is just a very small piece of your vision,” Scott said. “You better be thinking about what is ahead. That mindset has really taken over our team.”
No better proof of that then in last year’s national championship run. After a gut-wrenching loss to Pittsburgh, which ended long winning streaks in the ACC and at home, the Tigers rebounded to win their last five games and bring the national championship back to Clemson for the first time in 35 years.
“That is one reason we have had six years of 10-plus wins,” Scott said. “That high level of consistency is the way Coach Swinney and our staff has really trained these guys to think and to not take a lot of time looking in that rearview mirror.
“If you are driving down the road and staring at that rearview mirror then you will drive off the road and wreck. Our guys have really bought into that so I think from a big program perspective that is kind of the norm. We do not really get caught up in that. So from that standpoint, it is something that you are always watching and are really challenging guys.”
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