Clemson Players Remember Last Trip to Orlando

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON --- While a majority of Clemson’s senior class will remember their last visit to Orlando, Fla., quarterback Charlie Whitehurst has had to be told about it.

For the most part, all Whitehurst knows about the Tigers last visit there was the 55-15 thumping handed to them by Texas Tech in the Tangerine Bowl.

“I don’t remember much. I remember not remembering much of the game,” Whitehurst said Monday while addressing the media. “Maybe that was good because it didn’t go very well.”

Whitehurst doesn’t remember much about that afternoon in 2002 because he spent most of it on the ground, where he was sacked four times and was hit at least another dozen times.

“He just kept getting back up,” said Tye Hill, then a running back at the time.
But Whitehurst just didn’t amaze his teammates about his reliance, he also amazed himself.

“I got hit once in the third quarter near the sideline, I thought it was a chance it might have killed me,” he said. “I mean seriously, I was laying there. I couldn’t believe I got up.

“It took me at least five seconds to get up. I was thinking. ‘I cannot believe I’m still conscious.’ There were some hits in that game and probably a handful that I haven’t been hit like that since.”

For the most part Clemson, which accepted a bid Sunday to play Big 12 representative Colorado in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, hasn’t been beaten like that physically since. Texas Tech held the Tigers to 41 rushing yards on 29 carries, while amassing 555 total yards. It is still the worse bowl defeat in the program’s storied history and the second worst defeat for a Tommy Bowden coached football team.

“Not only did we play bad, but we got physically beat up,” Whitehurst said.

This is why Whitehurst and the Tigers can sympathize a little bit with their next opponent. Colorado (7-5) is fresh off one of its worst defeats in school history – a 70-3 shellacking in the Big 12 Championship game by No. 2 Texas.

“A pretty numbing game,” Colorado coach Gary Barnett told the Associated Press.

And like Whitehurst in the Tangerine Bowl four years earlier, Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt took a vicious beating from the Longhorn defense, including a helmet-to-chin hit from linebacker Drew Kelson in the third quarter that left Klatt lying motionless in the end zone for a few, anxious moments.

“I heard that he took one that was really bad. I haven’t seen it,” said Whitehurst. “He seems like a pretty big guy. I mean you know the kind of guy who can take that abuse a little better than I can.”

But not that kind of abuse. Like Whitehurst in the Tangerine Bowl, Klatt was diagnosed with a concussion. He was able to stagger off the field, though, and can consider himself lucky if he doesn’t remember much of the outcome.

In the last two games, the Buffalos have been outscored by a score of 100-6. Because of it, Barnett is feeling the heat from the Colorado media. As someone who has dealt with that same kind of scrutiny, Bowden says he doesn’t see why people are saying Barnett’s job is in jeopardy.

“I have sat here as a coach and watched my father lose a national championship game by 50 something to 20 something to Florida,” he said. “I watched Bob Stoops lose to Southern Cal by 40 and watched (Steve) Spurrier lose by 50 or 60 to Nebraska in a bowl game and surely I have had my beatings.

“It is amazing. They have won their division four of five years so I don’t know what they expect. I have seen some pretty good guys take beatings pretty similar. What goes around comes around. If you stay in the profession long enough, you’re going to get your dose.”

Despite two straight lopsided defeats, Clemson knows it is going to get its best shot from a Colorado team that is looking for some redemption.

And just like Clemson has done with its last trip to Orlando, the Buffs are putting the Big 12 Championship game behind them.

“Stuff like that happens, but it isn’t going to haunt us,” Whitehurst said. “When you get beat that bad, you just say, ‘hey it’s a fluke’ and you forget about it.”

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