Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 4, 2023

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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34 NOV. 4, 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED GAME PREVIEW: CLEMSON bunch, but they sure do want to beat Notre Dame as much as anybody else nationwide. BUILT TO LAST? And the coach they root for, the one with two national championships to his name, claims he has a team capable of doing it. Still. "We're a really good team that could beat anybody and we're a team that could lose to anybody," Swinney said. "But our program is built to last. We're going to be around for a long time." The current trend leans toward call- ing that out as falsehood. Clemson lost three games combined in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Through Week 8 of this season, the Tigers had lost nine games in 2021, 2022 and 2023. They probably aren't done dropping games this year, either. If the loss total does hit four, it'll be the first time it's gone that high since 2011. Swin- ney was in his third year as head coach. How has the fall been so rapid? Prob- ably for the same reasons Alabama isn't the omnipotent ruler of the sport it was for a decade. Name, image and likeness (NIL) has a lot to do with it. Kids aren't committing to Alabama or Clemson just for the name value of the two brands. There is tangible value almost anywhere else you look in recruiting. Colorado is a hot spot now. The Buffaloes lost 11 games last year against just one win. NIL has changed the game. So has the transfer portal, and Swinney has shown a bit of a disdain for it. Or, at the very least, an unwillingness to use it. Several people in the college football me- dia landscape were adamant that if Clem- son had brought a game-changing wide Three Things To Know About Clemson 1. Cade Klubnik, Jaden Greathouse Tore Up Texas Together Austin (Texas) Westlake won the state championship every year from 2019-21. Those happened to be the three years the Chaparrals featured eventual Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik and Notre Dame wide receiver Jaden Greathouse, who absolutely obliterated all competition. In their last game as teammates, Greathouse set the Texas record for re- ceiving yards in the state championship game with 236. Greathouse finished his high school career with 232 catches for 4,035 yards and 53 touchdowns, most of which were thrown by Klubnik. The two Westlake stars have known each other and had a connection since Greathouse was in sixth grade and Klubnik was in seventh, when they won the state title in seven-on-seven flag football together. Klubnik's friend- ship and mentorship in the five years between then and the quarterback's graduation meant a lot to Greathouse and his family. "Cade was an excellent big brother to Jaden," Greathouse's dad, Chris Giles, told Blue & Gold Illustrated over the summer. "When Cade got to Clemson I hit him up, sent him a message and I said, 'Hey, thank you for always being there for my boy.'" 2. Linebackers Are Studs One could make the case that Clemson has two of the top five off-ball line- backers in the country. Pro Football Focus did before the season, and juniors Jeremiah Trotter Jr. and Barrett Carter have done nothing to disprove that idea in 2023. Both are currently projected as late-first or early second-round picks. Trotter and Carter have 48 and 38 tackles so far, respectively. Trotter, the son of former NFL All-Pro linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Sr., stands out with his incredible speed. He uses it in the pass rush (1.5 sacks) and in coverage (4 passes defended, 1 interception). Carter is a ferocious tackler as well, and his record of ball production (8 passes defended, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles in 2022) speaks for itself. 3. Dabo Swinney Does Not Use The Transfer Portal Clemson, under two-time national champion head coach Dabo Swinney, has acquired one player from the transfer portal in each of the past three years. The sum total of Swinney's portal exploits since access to it was ex- panded: walk-on wide receiver Blackmon Huckabee Jr. (2021, 1 catch for 12 yards), quarterback Hunter Johnson (2022, 6 of 6 for 12 yards) and quarter- back Paul Tyson (2023, 3 of 4 for 42 yards and a touchdown). That's not an accident. Swinney told ESPN in April 2022 that he believes adding from the portal would be "telling all those guys in that locker room that I don't believe in them." In an era where every national championship contender is adding key transfers, Clemson is falling behind and it's show- ing on the field. — Jack Soble Through seven games, junior linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. led the Tigers in total stops (48), tackles for loss (8.5) and quarterback pressures (10). PHOTO COURTESY CLEMSON ATHLETICS

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