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Wednesday, July 8, 2009
It's time to talk about Clemson

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Shh. Hear that?

It's nobody talking about Clemson.

What a dramatic turnaround from a year ago, when the Tigers seemed to be invincible before the season even began. They were the talk of August. This summer, there's barely a whisper.

The thing is, more people should be giving this team a legitimate chance to win the Atlantic Division this year. It's wide open, and with the exception of Florida State, Clemson might have the most raw talent to work with.

Phil Steele is one of the few preseason magazines (probably the only one) that predicts Clemson will finish atop the Atlantic Division standings. He backs it up: The offensive line will be better (maybe still not as good as it needs to be, but better), the defense should be one of the best in the conference and there are two quarterbacks worth getting excited about.

Steele ranks Clemson's offensive and defensive lines No. 2 in the ACC. All of the ingredients are there, especially with so many questions facing Maryland, Wake Forest and Boston College. The possible absence of Nate Irving at NC State, and Florida State's issues at receiver also evens out the competition a bit.

The obvious question is whether coach Dabo Swinney is the right man for the job. Swinney is motivated, he's outgoing and he's a salesman. But so far, he's only got Clemson talking about Clemson.