Clemson Offense Only to Get Better


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON --- In last week’s 31-10 victory over N.C. State, the Clemson offense managed to rack up 489 total yards against a defense that led the nation in total yards a year ago.


The Tigers (3-3) amassed 243 yards on the ground and another 246 through the air as they cruised to the easy win. On Tuesday, offensive coordinator Rob Spence said Clemson fans should get accustomed to this type of performance because it is what he expects out of the offense each week.


“I think (the N.C. State game) is closer to what we want to look like,” he said. “It is closer to what I expect the offense at Clemson to be. There was a mixture of different types of plays. We were able to execute our run game, which sets up everything we do, and that gave us a chance to be multifunctional.”


Against the Wolfpack, Clemson mixed in a variety of plays to keep N.C. State’s over aggressive defense guessing. Spence called screens, misdirection runs, a few deep passes and even installed a few formations N.C. State or anyone else, for that matter, had never seen.


The 243 rushing yards by the Tigers were the most against N.C. State’s defense since the 2003 season when Florida State had 272 against the Pack. Clemson completed 71 percent of its passes in the game, the highest completion percentage against the Wolfpack since the 2003 season when Virginia completed 41-of-55 passes.


“The players are starting to feel more and more comfortable with what we are doing and they certainly didn’t make many mistakes at all, and really played with great effort,” Spence said. “I hope we can continue to rush the ball real effectively. I think we can build on that.


“When you rush the ball and do a good job in the screen game, I think our drop back passing will continue to improve and we will be able to do more with that facet of the game.”

Clemson is now 43-0-1 all-time when it has at least 200 yards rushing and passing in each category, including 36 consecutive wins dating back to 1976. The only time Clemson failed to gain victory when it had at least 200 rushing and 200 passing took place in a 24-24 tie with Georgia Tech in 1976.


Hard to replace - Spence says replacing running back James Davis, who is out with a broken left wrist, will not be an easy task, but he has full confidence that Reggie Merriweather and Kyle Browning can get the job done.


“Anytime you lose one of your top players, it is a concern,” he said. “But with that being said, I feel like that position has excellent talent and those players that have played together in that group or unit have all complement each other.

“I’m really excited to see Reggie out there more and Kyle out there more because they are proven winners here and they deserve the opportunity.”

About the Owls - Temple enters this game with a 0-7 record after a 34-3 loss to Miami last week. It was an active week for the Owls, who learned their head coach Bobby Wallace, would be leaving the Temple program at then end of the season. Wallace has been the head coach of the Owl program since 1998 when the program was still in the Big East. Temple is independent this year and in 2006, and will join the MAC in 2007.


The Owls will hope to duplicate an accomplishment of that 1998 season when they come to Death Valley on Saturday. That year a 0-6 Temple team pulled off one of the great upsets in school history with a 28-24 victory at Virginia Tech.


Wallace is a respected coach who led North Alabama to three Division II National Championships during 10 seasons as the head coach from 1988-97.


Umar Ferguson is one of the top offensive players for the Owls. The leading rusher has 489 yards in six games, more than any other Clemson running back. He has scored three touchdowns and has a 3.6 average.


The Owl quarterback is Mike McGann, who has completed 60-of-142 passes for 741 yards and one touchdown. The top receiver is Bruce Gordon, who has 22 catches for 316 yards.


Temple’s top defender is Manuel Tapia, who has 62 tackles. Chuck Dunbar has 44 tackles, including 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Mike Mendenhall has 40 tackles, including a team best nine tackles for loss, 4.5 of which are sacks. The sack total is also a team best.


Temple’s defense has forced 15 turnovers, has 43 tackles for loss and 12 forced fumbles thus far.

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