Defense Dominates Clemson Spring Game
Michael Collins catches a touchdown pass over corner Robert Reese.
Clemson, SC-Wide receiver Michael Collins caught two touchdown passes
to lead the offense and defensive end Charles Bennett had two sacks
and three pass deflections at the line of scrimmage to highlight
Clemson's Orange and White Game at Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
The two-and-half hour event ended Clemson's Spring practice season.
The Tigers will open the 2004 season with a home game against Wake
Forest on September 4.
The offense vs. defense scrimmage featured many outstanding
plays by Clemson defenders. The offense scored just two touchdowns
and kicked a pair of field goals. The Clemson pass defense allowed
just 22 completions in 58 attempts for 371 yards, just 6.4 yards per
attempt. The defense had three interceptions and forced four
"We had a lot of passes deflected at the line of scrimmage,"
said Bowden. "I am not sure if that had to do with a lack of pass
rush. Our offensive linemen might have been reacting based on
knowing what was coming. That can happen in a spring game. It had
not been a problem in the previous 14 practices, nor last year. I
don't think it will be a problem."
Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst in effect had to go
"both ways" throughout the day. He never got a break after the first
quarter as backup signal caller Will Proctor suffered an eye injury
in the first quarter. When that happened Whitehurst played
quarterback for the first team and the second team. At one point he
took 51 consecutive snaps without a rest.
There were two other injuries in the scrimmage. Wide
receiver Chris Jefferson suffered a concussion when he was hit trying
to catch a pass over the middle. He walked off with help. Tim
DeBeer, who had just moved into a first-team tackle slot, suffered a
sprained ankle and a sprained knee on a field goal attempt. He was
held out of the rest of the game and was on crutches after the
contest. Both injuries are not believed to be serious.
Whitehurst completed 19-47 passes for 290 yards and two
touchdowns. He completed three apiece to Chansi Stuckey, Airese
Currie and Gerald McCloud for 24 yards per completion. Currie had
the longest play of the day when he caught a 51-yarder from
Whitehurst. Proctor completed a 29-yard pass to McCloud before he
left with the eye injury.
Collins scored both touchdowns, the first on an eight-yard
reception from Whitehurst in the second quarter and the second on a
nine-yard catch from Whitehurst in the third quarter. Those were
the only touchdowns of the day for the Clemson offense.
Clemson's running backs were solid with Duane Coleman
(12-45), Reggie Merriweather 9-47) and Yusef Kelly (9-35). "I don't
think we have a number-one running back," said Bowden after the
scrimmage. "Yusef Kelly showed great improvement this spring and he
has run hard. Coleman and Merriweather also had very good springs."
Brandon Nolen also had a good day as the rising red-shirt freshman
had 7-29 on the day.
Tavaghn Monts was the top tackler with eight tackles,
including seven first hits. Charles Bennett had the most big plays
with six tackles, including two sacks and three pass deflections at
the line of scrimmage. Gaines Adams, another defensive end, had a
pair of sacks. Reserve linebacker Steven Jackson had five tackles,
including an interception of a batted pass. Roy Walker and Jamaal
Fudge also had interceptions and Travis Pugh had a fumble recover to
key the defense.
Stephen Furr, who lettered in 2002, but did not appear in a
game last year, booked two field goals, one of 46 yards. Cole Chason
had a 41.7 yard average on 10 punts that were performed without a
rush or a return.