Having won their first two ACRL games by massive margins, the 2-0 Clemson Tigers look ahead to Saturday and 2-0 Virginia.
This could be a sterner test, but Clemson has been dominant so far, and has put the rest of the league on notice, especially when you consider Virginia beat Wake Forest by two, and Clemson beat Wake by 68.
“We're still trying to work out some kinks at this stage in the fall,” said Clemson Head Coach Justin Hickey. “We're playing good, open-play rugby, but we're still not quite where we want to be with our structured game plan.”
Hickey said the score can’t always be the measuring stick for his team.
“We understand that we're nowhere near where we need to be,” he said. “Our objective is to continue to improve every day, on the training field and in match play. Although we've achieved a few lopsided wins to start the fall, we've identified plenty of areas for improvement. We returned the bulk of our squad from last year, but we're still a very young team. We're still trying to find our identity and build chemistry - we're still very much in the team-building stage. The players are very motivated, and they understand we need to continue to get better.”
Hickey added that he’s like to see better discipline from his team and smarter decision-making, Despite wins of 63-5 over NC State and 68-0 over Wake Forest, they left some points on the table, and took a few ill-advised risks, and even when the risks work out, the coach isn’t always happy.
“It takes discipline and experience to commit to ball security and ball retention rather than forcing a risky option in an attempt to score,” explained Hickey. “We've been lucky enough to get away with these mistakes early, but we know that later down the road we'll pay for it when we fail to convert scoring opportunities.”
The heart of the Clemson team is up front. Brett Weaver, Dan Collins, and Max Simons form a front row that has started for the Tigers for three season now. They return other starters elsewhere in the pack, but the forwards have depth, as well.
Ryan Gilroy is having another fine season at scrumhalf and directs the team’s attack as we'll as the defensive organization. Nick Johnson is a three-year starter on the wing, and center Eddie Abreu is the only senior in the group; both have been instrumental.
All of this means Clemson is a dangerous team, 2-0 in the ACRL, and poised to keep winning. But with a coach that knows they need to execute better, it will be interesting to see how they respond to a strong start, and how they hand tougher games later in the season.