Defense, Running Game Stand Out On Game Film

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - When Tommy Bowden watched film of his team's 35-6 victory over Utah State, two things caught his eye.

One, his defense finally turned in a dominating performance. Two, an unusually large number of players contributed to the effort.

The Tigers held Utah State to minus 20 yards rushing, thanks in part to a season-high - and Bowden-era high - 11 quarterback sacks. Eight different players recorded sacks, and Jamaal Fudge complimented the effort with his first interception of the season - just Clemson's second of the year.

"The way we played, the number of players who made plays, those are the things that stood out," Bowden said during his regular Sunday teleconference. "At linebacker, I think Leroy Hill only had three tackles or something like that. Nick Watkins and Anthony Waters made more plays this week.

"The amount of contributors stood out more than usual."

The defensive performance also had another added benefit. It allowed Clemson's offense to keep feeding the running game.

The Tigers rushed for exactly 200 yards Saturday, continuing to exploit and Aggie defense which had been giving up in excess of that figure on a weekly basis. Reggie Merriweather (84 yards, two TDs) and Duane Coleman (82, TD) kept the Tiger offense going on a day that little seemed to come easy.

For Bowden, the numbers put up by his running back tandem were a relief, but not a surprise.

"The way they performed is pretty much what we've seen (at times) this season," he said. "I'm just glad the defense played so good and we could continue feeding them ball. Both did a really good job. Duane got 21 carries, Reggie got 18. That's what you'd like to have."

In other news Sunday:

- When Clemson did have success in the passing game Saturday, it came largely at the hands - or, perhaps more accurately, in the hands - of wide receiver Michael Collins.

Collins, who had just four career receptions coming into the game, had six for 64 yards vs. the Aggies. Collins was elevated to a starting role due to the hamstring injury to Chansi Stuckey and the one-game suspension (academics) handed out to Kelvin Grant.

"Those of us who have been around are happy for (Collins)," Bowden said. "He's a team player and all of the sudden he gets his shot. He takes the extra burden on his shoulders and rises to the occasion."

- Tight end Ben Hall was Clemson's only injury concern Sunday. Hall left Saturday's game with a bruised arm, but Sports Information Director Tim Bourret said the injury didn't appear to be serious.

Bowden also said he believed Stuckey would be back this week when Maryland visits Death Valley.

- Bowden, commenting on the sudden lack of production from head coach Ralph Friedgen's offense at Maryland:

"Everybody goes through it at some point. He hadn't as of yet, and at some point he was going to. I know I have. I sympathize with him."

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