Clemson - UVA Preview


by - Correspondent -
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Load up the busses; it's time to take this show on the road. After three relaxing
weeks in Death Valley, Tommy Bowden and the Tigers head to Charlottesville to
take on George Welsh, Dan Ellis, and a mythical structure known only as "The
Pergola."

QUARTERBACKS- Virginia quarterback Dan Ellis has taken his share of
heat from Cavalier fans over the past two seasons despite putting up some fairly
respectable numbers. Ellis is big (6'3", 210-pounds) and accurate (he finished
eighth nationally last season in passing efficiency) and certainly intelligent
enough to effectively run the Virginia offense. Across the sidelines, Woodrow
Dantzler has been virtually flawless in 2000, both as a passer and a rusher
(he leads the ACC in rushing and passing efficiency). Look for Virginia to pressure
the line of scrimmage to force Dantzler to beat them with his arm and not his
legs.

Advantage: Clemson

RUNNING BACKS- Virginia's Antwoine Womack has stepped in nicely for
the departed Thomas Jones thus far, averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 84 yards
per game. Womack has a good combination of speed and power, two factors that
should keep the Tigers honest against the run. For Clemson, look for Travis
Zachery to line up at slotback occasionally as the Tigers try to find more playing
time for rising stars Bernard Rambert and Keith Kelly at the tailback slot.

Advantage: Even

CLEMSON RECEIVERS VS. VIRGINIA SECONDARY- The play of the Cavalier secondary
last season was nothing short of abysmal. Blown coverages, poor tackling, penalties-
you name it, this group was guilty of just about every shortcoming imaginable
in the defensive backfield. Meanwhile, the Clemson receiving corps has been
solid thus far in 2000, with Rod Gardner making an early-season push for All-American
honors.

Advantage: Clemson

VIRGINIA RECEIVERS VS. CLEMSON SECONDARY- Virginia suits up a deep and
potentially dangerous receiving corps led by sophomore Billy McMullen. The 6'4",
195-pound athlete already has 15 receptions in the Cavaliers' first three games
and two touchdowns. The Clemson secondary has been spectacular thus far in three
blowout victories. The going will get tougher in Charlottesville, however.

Advantage: Clemson

CLEMSON OFFENSIVE LINE VS. VIRGINIA DEFENSIVE LINE- Last season saw
Virginia plummet to 90th nationally in total defense, largely due to the fact
that the Cavaliers were almost equally as bad at stopping the run as they were
against the pass. Welsh starts two sophomores and two juniors on a unit that
lacks both size and depth. The Clemson offensive line will attempt to build
on last week's dominating performance of Wake Forest.

Advantage: Clemson

VIRGINIA OFFENSIVE LINE VS. CLEMSON DEFENSIVE LINE- Despite the losses
of all-ACC guard Noel LaMonagne and All-American center John St. Clair, the
Cavaliers have been effective up front in 2000. Virginia is averaging a respectable
4.2 yards per rushing attempt while the offensive line has kept Ellis relatively
safe in the pocket (six sacks allowed). After a horrible 1999 season, the Clemson
defensive line suddenly appears to both deep and dangerous. The youth movement
of Nick Eason, Freddie James, Jovon Bush, and Bryant McNeal all have shown flashes
of brilliance in 2000 while Jason Holloman and Terry Jolly work to get healthy.

Advantage: Even

LINEBACKERS- Senior Byron Thweatt is the unquestioned leader of the
Cavalier defense with 28 tackles in three games so far. Senior Yubrenal Isabelle
led Virginia in tackles last season while untested sophomore Angelo Crowell
has been steady thus far in 2000. Last season Keith Adams and the rest of the
Tiger linebacking corps were regulars in the Virginia backfield, sacking Ellis
five times on the afternoon and hurrying him countless others.

Advantage: Clemson

SPECIAL TEAMS- A major focus of Welsh's post-1999 house cleaning involved
the Cavalier special teams. Place kicker Todd Braverman wasn't invited back
for his senior year and was replaced by junior David Greene (4-6 with a long
of 48 yards thus far). Mike Abrams has taken over the punting chores and has
performed admirably, averaging 44.7-yards per punt. Clemson's special teams
struggled last week against Wake Forest and will have to rebound against the
Cavaliers.

Advantage: Virginia

COACHING- Despite widespread coaching and personnel changes in the off-season,
the Cavaliers still appear unable to shake some of the bad habits that haunted
them last season. Virginia blew a huge lead in the season opener against BYU
and went on to lose in overtime and struggled to put away an exceptionally weak
Duke team last week. Inconsistency has plagued Virginia under the Welsh regime
and it appears nothing has changed in 2000. Meanwhile, the Tigers have yet to
be tested thus far in three spectacular blowout victories. Expect tougher goings
against a talented Virginia team this week. However, don't expect for the Tigers
to leave Charlottesville with an "L."

Advantage: Clemson

Clemson- 38 Virginia- 13 (Pergola- 3)

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