Some national services say he's still a candidate, others say he's done. Regardless, Woody Dantzler continues to play.
Dantzler finished Saturday with 334 total yards and accounted for all three Clemson touchdowns. The senior quarterback completed 16-of-27 passes for 211 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also rushed for 123 yards on 20 carries, including a 10-yard scoring jaunt.
It was Dantzler's ninth career 100-plus yard rushing day, tying Georgia Tech's Joe Burns for the lead among active ACC players. He trails Clemson's all-time leader, Terry Allen, by one.
He enabled Clemson to run out the clock following Charles Hafley's interception with a key 19-yard run on third and 7 from his own 23 with just over 1:00 to go. Three knees later, the game was over.
MISSING OR WOUNDED
- Sophomore cornerback Kevin Johnson left the team Friday, returning to Orangeburg to be with his ailing father.
There was no immediate word on when he was expected to return.
- After a week without an injury list, Clemson had several players banged up Saturday.
Linebacker John Leake left after the first series with a sprained ankle, an injury suffered when he appeared to be the victim of an illegal block below the waist while pursuing a ball-carrier. He finished the game in street clothes and on crutches.
Airese Currie left with a sprained foot after making an impressive catch on a 36-yard pass from Dantzler.
Ben Hall was forced out with a strained neck suffered while trying to recover a loose ball in the fourth quarter.
All three will have their status evaluated Sunday.
Derrick Hamilton finished with six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown Saturday, giving him 37 receptions on the season. The old record was 34 by Terry Smith.
After Dantzler's much-publicized player's-only meeting earlier this week, defensive tackles Jovon Bush and Nick Eason held a similar closed-door session with the defense Friday night at the team hotel.
The crux of the meeting? The players said they were tired of letting down defensive coordinator Reggie Herring.
Freshman Roscoe Crosby began to find a groove Saturday, catching 3 passes for 36 yards, including a 26-yarder that set up a Clemson touchdown in the second half.
Several other balls were thrown in his direction, including an overthrow by Dantzler on a deep post pattern which would have been a sure touchdown.
Crosby's young teammates had good days, as well. Of Dantzler's 16 completions, 13 were to freshmen.
SHOT IN ARM FOR DEFENSE
If anyone needed an encouraging sign out of the Clemson defense more than the players themselves, it was defensive coordinator Reggie Herring.
Herring, embattled and combative at times through the first six games of the season, watched his young defense stutter and stumble Saturday, but never fall in the 21-14 win at Wake Forest.
In fact, for the first time this season, Clemson's defense made a huge play late with the game on the line - Charles Hafley's interception in the end zone with 2:09 left.
Now Herring hopes the success sparks a run of better play as the Tigers enter a brutal three-game stretch.
"Hopefully this is a shot in the arm, just to get us through the rest of the season," he said. "What it can do is at least give us some confidence (because) we've got a rough stretch ahead of us. It will obviously give us some momentum and confidence that we desperately needed."
The Tigers still allowed 344 yards of offense to the Deacons, but thwarted scoring opportunities by forcing three turnovers - two interceptions and a fumble - and not giving up the big scoring play which has haunted the defense in recent weeks.
Coincidentally, the big defensive plays came the very week Herring decided to go away from the bend-but-don't-break mentality and get back to his strength - aggressive, pressure defense.
"That's the big deal all along; our kids hadn't been making plays," Herring said. "It's a deal where it looked like we were just existing on defense and not making things happen. Today was just an example of the kids being aggressive and turning it loose, and we come up with plays.
"It's good to see. It gives you a little boost, a little energy to go on."