CLEMSON -- Woody Dantzler had a year to think about North Carolina.
He can finally move on. He’ll be too busy the rest of this season to think about a game from year ago.
Until yesterday, though, that game was all he had to think about. It was the sum of his career at Clemson: North Carolina, 1998.
“I came out trying to do too much too fast,” Dantzler said of the game he took over as starting quarterback in 1998. He fell flat on his face against North Carolina’s defense. He completed just two of six passes for 18 yards. Mainly he tucked and ran anytime the defense confused him. He ran the ball 14 times for eight yards. Clemson lost, 21-14.
“I wasn’t prepared,” he said. “I came out trying to prove something.”
Now, he’s got North Carolina, 1999. The day he rescued Clemson. He came in after Brandon Streeter left the game with a broken collar bone. Dantzler, after a year of sitting the bench and thinking about last year’s North Carolina game, came in an led Clemson to a 31-20 win.
“There was nothing to prove,” he said. “I just had to run the offense.”
Now that Dantzler has another chance, he realizes its not what Dantzler can do for the offense. Instead, it’s what the offense can do for Dantzler.
The offense made Brandon Streeter, a quarterback that Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said runs like Forrest Gump, look good. It could make Dantzler look even better, if he can read the defense and not tuck the ball and run when his primary receiver isn’t open.
“He brings a dimension as far as running the ball,” said Clemson offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez. “Brandon can run the ball pretty well, but he’s got that and he can throw the football. He made some precise throws after he settled down. With a week of preparation and a majority of the reps, we should be able get more plays in there while he’s in the game.”
Dantzler completed seven of 15 passes for 131 yards. He also ran the ball 11 times for 82 yards, most of which came on a 56-yard touchdown run.
Dantzler’s completed the drive Streeter started and led Clemson to a touchdown. He fumbled after gaining 16 yards on the second play of Clemson’s next drive. Rodriguez was prepared to put freshman quarterback Willie Simmons into the game if Dantzler didn’t settle down.
Dantzler did settle down and led Clemson to three second-half touchdowns. Rodriguez called a quarterback draw in the fourth quarter. Dantzler turned it into an impressive run down the left sideline.
He’s always been capable of running the ball. His receivers are good enough to make him look good throwing the ball. He thinks he can do his part as well.
After a year of reflection, he’s ready to go.
“Mentally, I’m so much father ahead,” he said. “Now, I’m real confident.”