Even when a team has an undefeated season, not everything is perfect. As Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has said so many times through the years, winning is not easy.
However, the Tigers have done a lot of winning in the last 10 seasons. So much so Clemson fans have become spoiled because of it.
Since when has a 10-2 season and a sixth straight appearance in the College Football Playoff become a disappointing season? I remember when Clemson fans longed for a 10-win season or just a trip to the ACC Championship Game.
The Tigers have won a record six straight ACC Championships and are just one of three teams in the history of college football to record 10 straight 10-win seasons.
So, 2020, especially considering there was a global pandemic to deal with, was a another great year for the Clemson football program.
Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly from the 2020 football season.
There were a lot of good things that happened this past season. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence finished as the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy race, Travis Etienne became the ACC’s all-time rushing and scoring leader and the Tigers again won another ACC Championship.
Lawrence, who led the ACC in passing, set a Clemson single-season record with his 315.3 yards per game average through the air, while as a team the Tigers led the ACC with a school record 348.5 passing yards per game.
Once again, the Tigers were dominant in winning another league title. Clemson won nine of its 10 games by 18 or more points. Its average margin of victory was 30.8 points. With Lawrence behind center, the Tigers won those nine games by an average margin of 33.6 points.
However, there was something really good that came out of the two games Clemson did not have Lawrence because he tested positive for COVID-19. Clemson fans got a glimpse of what the future might hold with D.J. Uiagalelei at quarterback.
The true freshman played very well in the two games, leading the Tigers to the greatest come-from-behind victory at Death Valley in school history, as he rallied Clemson from an 18-point deficit to beat Boston College, 34-28.
Even in the Tigers’ loss to Notre Dame in South Bend, he played great, throwing for 439 yards, the most ever against a Notre Dame defense. He nearly willed an under-handed Clemson team to victory in a double-overtime defeat.
In his two starts, Uiagalelei played nearly flawless, completing 59-of-85 passes (69.4 percent) for 781 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for two scores, including a 30-yard touchdown run against Boston College.
What happened to Clemson’s running game? With four new starters on the offensive line, it was no surprise there would be a drop off, but not to the point that it got.
The Clemson offense averaged just 153.8 yards per game, down from the 240.4 yards per game it averaged in 2019. This past season was the Tigers’ worse season running the football since 2014, when they ran for just 146.5 yards per game.
Clemson rushed for 200 or more yards just three times all season and in both of its losses, it failed to rush for 45 yards.
The 49-28 loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl was without a doubt the ugliest thing the Tigers did all year. They looked unprepared, especially on the defensive side.
At one point, the Buckeyes scored touchdowns on five straight possessions in the first half. Brent Venables’ defense, which is always solid, gave up a Clemson bowl record 639 yards. Ohio State averaged 8.9 yards per play.
Buckeyes’ quarterback Justin Fields threw a Sugar Bowl record six touchdown passes.