ATHENS, Ga. - Willie Simmons' first career start as Clemson's quarterback had
some early tenuous moments, as one might expect.
He fumbled twice on the Tigers' first possession, once on an attempted
reverse handoff to Derrick Hamilton and once on the center exchange with
Jermyn Chester. Clemson recovered both miscues.
Later, on his second possession, Simmons made a terrible decision on a
first-and10 play from the Georgia 24. Flushed out of the pocket to his right,
Simmons threw a poor pass across his body which fluttered into the endzone.
The pass was tipped and intercepted by the Bulldogs, who then marched 80
yards for the game's first score.
Of course, Simmons showed moments of poise, as well.
He stood tall against the blitz to complete his first pass, an 11-yard gain
to Kevin Youngblood. And he had two potential touchdown passes dropped - one
by Airese Currie as he split two defenders on the fly near the Georiga 10,
and another by Derrick Hamilton in the end zone.
After the Hamilton drop, he later came back on the same drive to find Kevin
Youngblood for a 23-yard touchdown pass with :08 left in the first half,
cutting Georgia's lead to 21-14 at the break.
Both wide receiver Hamilton (sprained ankle) and running back Bernard Rambert
(foot tendonitis) started and looked sharp Saturday.
Hamilton returned the opening kickoff and also ran the Tigers' first play
from scrimmage, a reverse. Hamilton also return punts in the
second half, taking over for Mance.
Meanwhile, Rambert ran strong and appeared to have no problem cutting in
either direction during the first half.
TAKE YOUR TIME
At least for one game, Clemson stayed with a slower tempo on offense - much
like 2001 - rather than the spot-and-go frantic pace of Bowden's first two
Before calling for the snap, Simmons looked over the set Bulldog defense,
then glanced to the sideline to see if any change was made in the original
play call. Only once did there seem to be any confusion, forcing Simmons to
call time out as the 25-second clock expired.
Clemson's defensive front was able to get consistent pressure on Georgia
quarterback David Greene throughout the first half.
Though only sacked once, Greene was knocked to the turf continuously, and
when he wasn't hit he was forced out of the pocket more often than he was
allowed to set up and throw.
When it was announced that Duke ended its 23-game losing streak with a 23-16
win over East Carolina, the Sanford Stadium crowd roared in approval.