Game 4: Ball State vs Clemson Notes

by -
  Print   | TigerNetcom Facebook ClemsonTigerNet Twitter TigerNet RSS Feed

Clemson and Ball State Coming Off Big Wins

Both teams in Saturday’s game between Clemson and Ball State will be entering
Death Valley after emotional home victories last
weekend. Clemson defeated Georgia Tech 24-
19 thanks to the first career interception by Eric
Sampson at the Clemson 16-yard-line with just
1:12 left in the game. Ball State defeated state
rival Indiana State 23-21 in Muncie last Saturday.

Clemson showed a much improved
offense and the continued improvement of its
defense in gaining its second straight victory over
Georgia Tech, and handing Chan Gailey his first
loss as Georgia Tech head coach. The Tigers had
a balanced attack with 195 yards rushing and 176
yards passing.

Derrick Hamilton had the best all-around
game of his Clemson career with 256 all-purpose
yards, fifth best in Clemson history. A receiver by
trade, Hamilton had 97 yards rushing in just five
attempts. That performance included a 77-yard
run in the first period that gave the Tigers a 10-0
lead. It was the longest run by a Clemson player
since 1993 when another Derrick, Derrick
Witherspoon, raced 89 yards for a score against

Hamilton also had a 79-yard punt return
in the game and finished the day with 96 yards
on punt returns. It was the longest punt return by
a Tiger since Brian Mance went 88 yards against
Georgia Tech in 2000. Hamilton came close to
becoming the first player in Clemson history with
at least 100 yards rushing and 100 yards in punt
returns in the same game. Hamilton’s 256 allpurpose
yards were just 18 short of Terrence
Flagler’s single game record of 274 at Wake
Forest in 1986.

Willie Simmons had another solid
performance hitting 18-31 passes for 176 yards
and two scores. His favorite target in terms of
yardage was senior walk-on Tony Elliott. Elliott
began his career at Air Force Prep school in
Colorado, then transferred to Clemson in 1999.
He had three catches for 85 yards and his first
career touchdown against the Yellow Jackets.
Tight end Bobby Williamson also caught his first
touchdown pass on a two-yard “push pass” from
Willie Simmons that resembled an Edward Scott
chest pass in an ACC basketball game.

Yusef Kelly supported Hamilton with a
workman like 20 carries for 89 yards, including a
25-yarder late in the fourth quarter when Clemson
was trying to run time off the clock.
But, it was the defense in the end that
made key plays for the Tigers. Georgia Tech
drove to the Clemson 29 with under 1:30 left. But
A.J. Suggs pass over the middle was intercepted
by Sampson, who returned the theft 35 yards to
ice the game for the Tigers.

The play might have erased the
memory of last year’s Virginia game, also the third
contest of the year. A year ago Clemson led
Virginia 24-20 with under two minutes left. The
Cavaliers drove 44 yards to score the winning
touchdown with just one second left. This time
Tech trailed Clemson by almost the same score
(24-19), but the Tiger defense came up with the
turnover to clinch the victory.

Sampson Interception Ends Georgia Tech

Clemson sophomore Eric Sampson
intercepted a Georgia Tech pass at the Clemson
16 with just 1:12 left and returned the theft 35
yards to ice the 24-19 victory for the Tigers in
Death Valley on September 14th. Clemson then
ran out the remaining time to clinch the victory.
Sampson’s interception marked the first
time since 1993 that a Clemson player came up
with a turnover inside Clemson territory within the
last two minutes with Clemson leading by seven
points or less. In other words it was the first time
in nine years that a defensive player made a game
saving turnover with two minutes or less left.

The last time it happened was in 1993
at Duke when Dexter McCleon, now with the St.
Louis Rams, intercepted a Duke pass at the
Clemson eight-yard line with just three seconds
remaining. Clemson held on for a 13-10 victory.
That was actually the second straight week a
defensive player made a game saving play late
in the contest. The previous week, October 2,
1993, linebacker Tim Jones broke up an NC State
pass in the endzone with :00 on the clock to give
Clemson the victory. The Pack snapped the ball
from the Clemson 12 on that down.

Clemson fans have suffered through
some close last second losses in recent years.
Seven times since 1997 the opposition has driven
for a winning field goal or touchdown with inside
two minutes left in the game. That included last
year in the third game of the season when Virginia
scored with just one second left to defeat the
Tigers 26-24. It also had included the last two
times Georgia Tech had come to Clemson. They
scored a touchdown with a minute left to defeat
Clemson 24-21 in 1998 and scored a touchdown
with seven seconds left in 2000 to defeat a third
ranked Clemson team, 31-28.

Ball State Comes to Clemson Off Big Victory

Ball State will come to Clemson off a
two-point victory over Indiana State. The two
schools are state rivals, but had not played since
the 1991 season. Senior Marcus Merriweather
rushed 27 times for 146 yards and three scores
to lead Ball State.

The Ball State offense was balanced
and efficient. The Cardinals of Bill Lynch had 185
yards rushing as a team, and quarterback
Tallmadge Hill completed 20-26 passes for 150
yards. Jason Barnes led the receivers with seven
catches for 54 yards.

Lorenzo Scott leads the Ball State
defense with 23 tackles, including 11 stops in the
win over Indiana State. Douglas Owusu had an
interception, a tackle for loss and five tackles to
provide support. Ball State’s defense gave up
one big play, an 84-yard pass completion. The
Cardinals were sound other than that play,
allowing Indiana State to convert on third down
just 2-9 occasions.

Eason Has Big Day against Georgia Tech

Nick Eason had a lot to do with
Clemson’s victory over Georgia Tech. The
graduate student had two tackles for loss and
three total tackles for loss in the victory. He was
a big reason Tech quarterback A.J. Suggs had –
50 yards rushing in the game. Eason had six
tackles and two quarterback pressures.
It marked the first time in Eason’s career
that he had two sacks and three tackles for loss
in the same game. He now has 25 career tackles
for loss, first among active Clemson players.
Clemson’s defense had five sacks against
Georgia Tech and continually forced pressure on
A.J. Suggs. Clemson allowed just 303 yards of
total offense and the Tigers now allow 266 yards
per game for the season. That is an improvement
of nearly 130 yards per game over last year.

Second Meeting between Tigers and Cardinals

This will be the second meeting
between Clemson and Ball State on the gridiron.
The two teams met at Clemson on September 5,
1992 and the Tigers came away with a 24-10
victory under Head Coach Ken Hatfield. It was
the season opener for both clubs.
Clemson entered the game 13th in the
country according to Associated Press and was
coming off a 9-2-1 season and an ACC
Championship. But, the Tigers had lost many
outstanding players to the pro ranks, including
Chester McGlockton and Levon Kirkland, who
are both still in the NFL today.

The contest proved to be a defensive
struggle as the two teams both failed to reach 330
yards of total offense. In fact, Ball State outgained
Clemson 328 to 291 and ran 84 plays to
Clemson’s 65. The Tigers ran the ball
successfully, gaining 255 yards, while Ball State
had 208 yards through the air.

Clemson was led by Rodney Blunt,
who had 20 carries for 96 yards. Ronald Williams,
who is still a professional in the Canadian Football
league, added 8-58 rushing and a touchdown.
Williams was coming off a 1991 season in which
he had suffered a torn ACL. Quarterback Richard
Moncrief had 10-57 rushing, but completed just
4-11 for 36 yards in Clemson’s option offense.
Ball State’s offense was led by Mike
Neu who completed 25 of 48 passes for 208 yards
and a touchdown, and Corey Croom, who rushed
32 times for 135 yards. The carry total is still fifth
most ever against Clemson.

The Clemson defense was led by Tim
Jones, who had 12 tackles, an interception and
two tackles for loss, and Robert O’Neal, who had
11 tackles. Brentson Buckner, now in the NFL
with the Carolina Panthers, had nine tackles.
Clemson held just a 10-7 lead at
intermission, as a five-yard scoring pass from Neu
to Brian Oliver with just 12 seconds left in the
half made the score a three-point game at
intermission. Clemson scored two rushing
touchdowns in the fourth quarter, however to put
the game away.

The only Clemson coach still around
who coached in that game is Tigers wide receivers
coach Rick Stockstill. Current Ball State Head
Coach Bill Lynch, was the Ball State offensive
coordinator for that game, while Bob Bartolomeo,
the current defensive coordinator, was the inside
linebackers coach on that Cardinal staff. Rich
Spisak, currently offensive coordinator, and Scott
Pethtel, current outside linebackers coach, also
coached for Ball State in that game.
Clemson and Ball State are scheduled
to meet again at Clemson on November 2, 2006.


Believe it or not, today’s game between
Clemson and Ball State is one of three matchups
of the Atlantic Coast Conference vs. the Mid-
American Conference on Saturday. Heading into
games of September 21, the MAC had a 2-1 lead
in head-to-head matchups so far this year.
In addition to the Clemson vs. Ball State game
Saturday, Akron will play at Virginia and Eastern
Michigan travels to Maryland in the other MAC
vs. ACC matchups. Earlier this year, Miami (OH)
won at North Carolina, 27-21 and Wake Forest
lost at Northern Illinois 42-41 in overtime. The
ACC’s only win over the MAC so far this year took
place at Maryland, where the Terps defeated the
Akron Zips, 44-14 on September 7.

Clemson has a 1-1 lifetime record against the
MAC. The Tigers defeated Ball State, a member
of the MAC since 1973, by a 24-10 score in 1992.
Marshall defeated Clemson 13-10 in 1999, the
first game of the Tommy Bowden era. The only
previous contest for Ball State against an ACC
team was at Clemson in 1992.

Merriweather Will Challenge Clemson Defense

Clemson’s defensive front seven will
have its hands full this Saturday when it faces
one of the top running backs in the nation. Ball
State senior Marcus Merriweather is a preseason
Doak Walker Award candidate who has the stats
to back up his candidacy. He is one of 10 returning
starters for Ball State’s offense this year.
Merriweather already has a pair of
1000-yard seasons to his credit, as he ranked 10th
in the nation a year ago with a 124.4 yard average.
He set a school record with 1244 yards and was
a first-team All-MAC performer. In 2000, as a
sophomore, he gained 1004 yards (exact same
total Woody Dantzler had last year) to rank 26th in
the nation on a per game basis.
Merriweather needed just 1,100 yards
this year to become the school’s career leader.
That record is held by Bernie Parmalee, who
played at Ball State from 1987-90 before a nineseason
NFL career with Miami and the New York
Jets. Parmalee was the only Miami Dolphins
running back to have consecutive 100-yard
rushing games between 1994-01.
Merriweather had seven 100-yard
games last year after recording four 100-yard
performances over the last five games of his

sophomore year. That stretch run included a career best 257 yards in 42
carries against Central Michigan on October 28th. That performance shows
the durability of the 6-1, 215 pound running back from Fort Wayne, IN.
So far this year Merriweather is among the national rushing
leaders with 261 yards in 53 attempts in two games, an average of 130.5
yards per game. He has gone over 100 yards in each of the first two games.
He also has four receptions out of the backfield.

Facts about Ball State

*The list of Ball State alums includes CBS Late Night talk show
host David Letterman. Other well known Ball State alums include James
Davis, the creator of the cartoon “Garfield the Cat”, Kent Nelson, CEO of
UPS, ESPN Sportscenter anchor Betsy Ross, and Dr. John Seffrin, Chief
Executive Officer of the American Cancer Society.

*The Ball State record for yards per carry over the course of a
career is held by Merv Rettenmund, who went on to play 13 years and
over 1000 games in the Major Leagues with four teams, including the
Baltimore Orioles. Rettenmund averaged 7.6 yards per carry between
1962-64 for the Cardinals.

*Ball State has been a member of the MAC conference since
1973. It has had a football team since 1924. It last won the MAC and
went to a bowl game in 1996 when it was 7-1 in the conference and 8-4

*Both teams can boast of academic excellence. Clemson has
eight graduate students on its team this year, including seven starters, most
on one team in school history. Ball State had a team GPA of 2.90 for the
spring semester last year and 36 players had a GPA of 3.0 or better.

*Both schools are similar in size when it comes to enrollment.
Ball State has a student enrollment of 17,622, just about 500 more than
Clemson’s enrollment figure.

*Both schools have athletic directors in their first years with the
program. Clemson’s Terry Don Phillips came to Clemson from Oklahoma
State in July, while Ball State’s Bubba Cunningham came to Ball State after
serving as an associate AD at Notre Dame in August.

Clemson Defense Much Improved

Clemson continued to show improvement on defense in its 24-
19 victory over Georgia Tech. The Tigers held the Yellow Jackets to 303
yards of total offense and just 102 yards rushing. Seventy-two of those
yards came on one rushing play.

Clemson allowed just 293 yards of total offense to the Louisiana Tech
Bulldogs the previous week, the second straight game the opposition has
failed to reach the 300-yard mark. Clemson had allowed the opposition at
least 300 yards in 17 straight games heading into the 2002 season.
So far this year Clemson is 17th in the nation in total defense and 19th in
rushing defense. Clemson was not in the top half of the nation in those
categories last year.

Clemson has now given up just 799 yards of total offense in three
games, an average of 266 yards per game. Clemson allowed 395 yards a
game last year, so it is easy to see the 266 figure for the first three games
this year is considerably better. Clemson has allowed just 4.1 yards per
play, much improved from the 5.3 allowed per play a year ago.
Many of the times the opposition has scored it has been the result
of difficult field position after a turnover or a long kick return. Over the first
three games the opposition has taken possession of the ball at their own
38 or worse 28 times. They have driven for a touchdown just three times
in those 28 possessions. The defense had a streak of 18 straight
possessions without yielding a touchdown in that situation broken in the
Georgia Tech game.

Forcing turnovers has also been a plus. Clemson has forced
nine turnovers in three games. It took Clemson seven games to reach nine
forced turnovers a year ago. Clemson has a +3 turnover margin through
three games, a reversal of the –5 turnover margin Clemson had last year.
Clemson is currently 29th in the nation in turnover margin at +1.0 per game.
What is especially encouraging to Clemson coaches is that
Clemson has achieved these numbers against teams that are solid on
offense. Georgia has eight offensive starters returning from a team that
averaged 432 yards a game last year, but got just 203 yards against
Clemson. Louisiana Tech averaged over 400 yards and 30 points a game
last year, but got just 13 points and 293 yards against Clemson. Georgia
Tech also has a bright offensive outlook and currently is fourth in the ACC
in total offense with an average of nearly 400 yards per game.

Clemson Defense Comparison
Category                           2001 Avg. 2002
First Downs/Game Allowed                21.9 16.0
Total Yards/Game Allowed               394.9 266.0
Rushing Yards/Game Allowed             154.3 89.3
Passing Yards/Game Allowed             240.6 177.0
Yards/Play Allowed                       5.3 4.1
Yards/Reception Allowed                 13.4 9.2
Yards/rush Allowed                       3.8 2.8
Turnovers Forced                        1.58 3.0

John Lovett New Clemson Defensive Coordinator

John Lovett, defensive coordinator at Auburn for the last three
seasons, was named Defensive Coordinator at Clemson last spring. Lovett
has been an assistant coach at the college level for 23 years, including 13
seasons as a defensive coordinator. He has experience working with all
levels of the defense, but has spent most of his seasons in the game
coaching the secondary and outside linebacker position. Lovett is coaching
the secondary at Clemson. Jack Hines, who coached the secondary at
Clemson the last three years, has moved to the linebackers.

Lovett helped Auburn to bowl games each of the last two years.
His 2000 defense ranked 14th in the nation in total defense and 15th in rushing
defense, helping the Tigers to a 9-4 record and a berth in the Citrus Bowl
against Michigan. Auburn won the Western Division of the Southeastern
Conference that season.

In 2001, his defense had a lot to do with Auburn’s berth in the Peach Bowl.
One of Auburn’s victories was a 23-20 triumph over then #1 ranked Florida.
Lovett’s defense held Florida to 20 points, -36 yards rushing and 328 yards
of total offense, season lows in all three categories for Steve Spurrier’s
team that finished the season ranked third in the nation. The Tigers also
forced five turnovers in the game, including four interceptions of passes
thrown by Heisman Trophy finalist Rex Grossman. Lovett’s defense also
held Georgia’s high-powered attack to but 17 points in a 24-17 Auburn

The 51-year-old coach, who was born in Nyack, NY, worked under Tommy
Tuberville, the last seven years, four at Mississippi (1995-98) and three at
Auburn (1999-01). He coached the secondary all four years he was at
Mississippi, including the 1997 season when the Rebels had an 8-4 record,
including a victory in the Ford Motor City Bowl.

Prior to coming to Mississippi in 1995, Lovett worked as defensive
coordinator at the University of Maine for two stints. He first went to Orono
in 1985 and served as defensive coordinator and secondary coach from
1985-88. He also served as defensive coordinator for the Black Bears in
1994. The 1987 team won the conference championship and qualified for
the Division I-AA playoffs.

Byrd Leads Offensive Line

Gary Byrd is the leader of Clemson’s offensive line. With the
injury to Derrick Brantley, a veteran of eight career starts, the leadership
burden is even heavier for Byrd. A graduate student from Stone Mountain,
GA, Byrd has started two bowl games at Clemson, the 2001 Gator Bowl
against Virginia Tech and the 2001 Humanitarian Bowl against Louisiana
Tech. He is a veteran of over 1300 career plays and has been a common
denominator on two of the most productive offenses in Clemson history.
Byrd has played well so far this year. In the win over Louisiana
Tech he had an 85 percent total performance grade, including an 80 percent
technique grade from Clemson line coach Ron West. He led the Tigers in
knockdown blocks in the game with 11 and was a big reason Clemson
scored 33 points in the contest. He had six knockdowns in the season
opener against Georgia.

Byrd leads a young offensive line. Center Jermyn Chester has
two starts this year and three for his career. William Henry made his first
career start against Georgia Tech, while guard Greg Walker has just three
career starts.

Youngblood Ranked in Top 20 in Nation

Kevin Youngblood has already exceeded the reception total of
his freshman season with his 20 catches in three games this year. The
junior from Jacksonville, FL missed all of last year with a broken leg, but
has started fast in 2002. He has led Clemson in total receptions in all
three games so far this year.

Youngblood had six catches for 66 yards at Georgia to establish
a career high in terms of receptions. He also caught a 21-yard scoring
strike from quarterback Willie Simmons. He then trumped that with 10
receptions for 89 yards in the win over Louisiana Tech. He leads the ACC
in receptions per game entering the Ball State game.

No Clemson player has led the ACC in receptions per game over
the course of the season since 1980 when Perry Tuttle led the league. The
only other Clemson player to be the receptions champion for a season is
Jerry Butler in 1978.

Youngblood had a promising freshman year (2000) as an
understudy to first-round draft choice and former high school teammate
Rod Gardner. Youngblood was to replace Gardner’s big plays last year
until he suffered the injury.

Gardner was in attendance on the Clemson sideline in Athens as
he took a day off as he prepares for his second year with the Washington
Redskins. Perhaps his presence brought out the best in Youngblood, whose
previous career high was just two catches in a game four times in 2000.
Youngblood had 13 catches for 225 yards as a freshman, a 17.3 average.
Kelly Leads Ground Game

Yusef Kelly (formerly Keith Kelly his first two years at Clemson)
had a career high 25 attempts for 97 yards and three touchdowns in the
win over Louisiana Tech. Kelly now has four touchdowns for the year to
exceed his previous career high and ranks ninth in the nation in scoring
with 12 points per game.

Kelly’s 97 yards against Louisiana Tech broke his previous career
high of 93 yards against Wake Forest in 2000. Kelly sat out last year as a
red-shirt. He got his chance in the lineup when Bernard Rambert was in
street clothes due tendonitis in a foot. He added 20 carries for 89 yards
last week in the win over Georgia Tech. He showed his durability as 57 of
his 89 yards came in the fourth quarter.

Hunt Records Career Best Game

Aaron Hunt established a career best for field goals in a game
with four in the win over Louisiana Tech. The junior from Tennessee was 4-
4 in the game and scored 15 of Clemson’s 33 points. He became the first
Clemson player to record four field goals in a game since 1998 when David
Richardson had four in the season opener. Hunt’s day included a 47-yard
field goal, second longest boot of his career.

Hunt had field goals of 47, 22, 37 and 38 yards, distances that
total to 144 yards. That was the seventh most yards on made field goals in
a single game in Clemson history. Hunt was 10-12 last year on field goals
and is now 5-8 this year. He ranks 15th in the nation in field gals per game.

Simmons Establishes Career Highs

Clemson quarterback Willie Simmons completed 25 of 43 passes
for 242 yards in the win over Louisiana Tech. Simmons did a good job of
taking what the Bulldog defense gave him and completed passes to 10
different receivers. That was a career high in terms of completions, attempts
and passing yards for Simmons, who was making his first start in Death
Valley and just his second start anywhere.

Simmons set a school record for pass completions and attempts
by an individual in a Clemson victory. The Clemson team threw 44 passes
in the game and it was just the second time Clemson had thrown 40 or
more passes in a game and gained victory in the process. Clemson was 1-
16 prior to the Louisiana Tech game when throwing at least 40 passes.
The only other victory came at Wake Forest in 1999.

Simmons 25 completions rank in a tie for fourth in Clemson history
for a single game. The record is 27 set by Brandon Streeter against NC
State in 1998 and at Virginia Tech in 1999. Simmons 43 attempts was tied
for fifth highest, most ever in a Clemson victory. It was the most pass
attempts by an individual without an interception in school history.

Simmons had another solid game against Georgia Tech,
connecting on 18-31 passes for 176 yards and two scores. He has
completed 54 percent of his passes for the season. He is fourth in the ACC
in passing yards per game with 194.3.

Leake Leads Defense

The top returning tackler on the Clemson defense is junior John
Leake and he has led the team so far this year with 39 tackles, 11 against
Georgia and Georgia Tech and 17 against Louisiana Tech. The native of
Plano, TX had 134 tackles last year, an increase of 125 stops over his
freshman year. Leake never played a snap on defense as a freshman,
then played 687 last year when he ranked second for the course of the
season behind the now graduated Chad Carson.

Leake’s quickness in the middle of the Clemson point prevention
unit has been a big reason Clemson has limited teams to but 4.1 yards per
play and just nine yards per pass reception. He had 17 tackles to lead the
Clemson defense against Louisiana Tech.

Leake is ranked 23rd in the nation among linebackers by The
Sporting News in its preseason publication. He ranked 11th in the ACC in
tackles per game last year and led the team in tackles in five of the 12
games. He had a season high 19 tackles in the win over Georgia Tech in

Leake has football in his blood. His father played for Wyoming as
a wide receiver in the 1960s. He opened the 2002 season with a strong
game, as he had eight tackles to rank second on the team. He also led the
team with a pair of tackles for loss and had much to do with Clemson’s ability
to hold Georgia to but 203 yards of total offense.

  Print   | TigerNetcom Facebook ClemsonTigerNet Twitter TigerNet RSS Feed
Report: Former Clemson receiver re-signs with Chargers
Report: Former Clemson receiver re-signs with Chargers
Clemson targets, commits see movement in new Rivals rankings
Clemson targets, commits see movement in new Rivals rankings
Clemson LB signee suffers knee injury playing basketball
Clemson LB signee suffers knee injury playing basketball
WATCH: Brad Brownell on loss to FSU
WATCH: Brad Brownell on loss to FSU
Sign Up for E-Mail News Alerts
Daily Digest