Game Five: Clemson at Florida State
Thursday, October 3, 2002
7:45 PM (EST)
Doak Campbell Stadium
Play By Play: Mike Tirico
Color: Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso
Sideline: Dr. Jerry Punch
Radio: Clemson Tiger Sports Properties
Play By Play: Jim Phillips
Color: Rodney Williams
Sideline: Pete Yanity
Series History: Florida State leads 13-2
Bowden Bowl IV
As everyone knows, when Florida State's Bobby Bowden and Clemson's Tommy Bowden take the field Thursday evening to coach their respective teams, it will be the fourth competition of father and son head coaches in NCAA Division I history. The previous three occasions have taken place the last three years when the two teams met.
The first meeting in 1999 was a festive atmosphere at Clemson as a record 86,092 fans attended. In addition to the hype concerning a father coaching against a son for the first time, Bobby Bowden was going for his 300th career victory. He got it, but it was a struggle, as the Tigers fought the Seminoles to the wire before Florida State came away with a 17-14 victory. It was the closest victory for the Seminoles on the way to the 1999 National Championship. Clemson had two touchdowns to Florida State's one.
Florida State won the second meeting in 2000 in Tallahassee by a 54-7 count. Clemson entered the game with an 8-1 record and #10 national ranking, while Florida State was ranked fourth in the nation. Clemson was coming off a heart-breaking 31-28 loss to Georgia Tech the previous week and that loss seemed to linger. Florida State gained 771 yards of total offense, most ever against a Clemson team, including 521 passing, also a high against a Clemson team.
Last year Clemson gained 463 yards of total offense against Florida State, its high total ever against the Seminoles, but still lost 41-27. The Tigers could not stop Chris Rix and the Florida State passing game as the Seminoles threw for 369 yards and gained 557 overall. Woody Dantzler had 336 yard of total offense, but it was not enough as the Seminoles won for the sixth straight time in Death Valley.
Bobby Bowden has enjoyed success against Clemson in Death Valley, regardless of the opposing coach. Father Bowden is 6-0 in Death Valley, the only opposing coach with a perfect record in the facility given a minimum of two games. He has beaten Clemson five times in a row in Death Valley as an ACC coach and also defeated Clemson 24-21 in the famous "Puntrooskie" game of 1988.
The Clemson vs. Florida State games the last three years are not the only times Bowdens have been on opposite sides of the field. In 1991, Auburn, with assistant coach Tommy Bowden, faced Southern Mississippi, with assistant coach Jeff Bowden. Southern Mississippi upset Auburn that day. Jeff Bowden will also be at the scene this year, as he is Florida State's offensive coordinator.
Like Father, Like Son?
Florida State's record the two years prior to Bobby Bowden's arrival was 4-18. Tulane's record the two years prior to Tommy Bowden's arrival was 4-18.
Bobby Bowden had Florida State in a bowl games and a top 15 final national ranking in his second year with the program. Tommy Bowden had Tulane and Clemson in a bowl game and a top 15 national ranking in his second year with each program.
This is Bobby Bowden's 50th season in coaching. This is Tommy Bowden's 25th year in coaching (graduate assistant, full time assistant or head coach).
Both Bowden's had perfect seasons as head coaches in the 1990s. Bobby had an 11-0 season at Florida State in 1999 after Tommy had a perfect 11-0 regular season as head coach at Tulane.
Tommy Bowden has a better record than Bobby Bowden at the 62-game mark of his Division I coaching career. Bobby Bowden has a better record than Tommy at the 62-game mark of their respective head coaching careers, regardless of division.
Here is a comparison of the Bowdens at similar stages of their careers:
Category Tommy Bobby
First 62 Games as a Head Coach 43-19 (.694) 49-13 (.790)
First 62 Games as a Division I Head Coach 43-19 (.694) 37-25 (.596)
First Five Full Seasons as D-I Head Coach 40-18 (.690) 33-23 (.589)
First 40 Games at Current School 25-15 (.600) 29-11 (.725)
Clemson-Florida State Series
Florida State holds a 13-2 advantage in the series with Clemson dating to a 38-13 Florida State win in Tallahassee in 1970. Both of Clemson's wins in the series took place in Tallahassee, in 1976 by a 15-12 score and in 1989 by a 34-23 count. Florida State is 7-0 at Clemson and Clemson is 2-6 at Florida State. Florida State has won 10 in a row, and all 10 have taken place since the Seminoles joined the ACC. Virginia, NC State and North Carolina are the only league schools to beat Florida State since they joined the league for the 1992 season.
In four straight meetings between 1988 and 1993 both teams were ranked in the top 25. Both teams have been ranked in the top 25 of at least one poll in seven of the last 11 meetings, including 2001 when Clemson entered the game 24th in USA Today and Florida Sate was 14th in both polls. The polls for this week have not been released as of this writing.
The last time the two teams played in Tallahassee both were ranked in the top 10 of the AP, as Clemson was 10th and Florida State was fourth. That marked just the third time in ACC history that two league teams were ranked in the top 10 heading into a contest.
The three meetings between the two teams played between 1988 and 1992, were classics. In 1988, Florida State won at Clemson 24-21, thanks in part to the famous "puntrooskie play", a 78-yard run on a fake punt by Leroy Butler, and a 76-yard punt return by Deion Sanders, the only time a Chris Gardocki punt was returned for a touchdown in his Clemson career.
In 1989, Clemson defeated a Florida State team that ended the season ranked third in the final AP poll by a 34-23 score. That was the only loss by Florida State at home against a non-Florida team in a 17-year period. A pair of 73-yard plays were pivotal for Clemson in that game. The late Wayne Simmons ran 73 yards with an interception and Terry Allen ran 73 yards from scrimmage in the second period to give Clemson a 28-7 lead. Florida State scored in the last minute to close the gap to 11 points. The last time Clemson defeated Florida State it was coming off a loss to Southern Mississippi, a team from conference USA.
In 1992, before over 84,000 fans and a nationally televised audience at Clemson, fifth-ranked Florida State defeated 15th-ranked Clemson 24-20 in Death Valley. Florida State scored the winning TD in the final two minutes of the contest behind the passing of Charlie Ward. Clemson did pick off four passes in the game, including one that James Trapp returned for a touchdown. Trapp is still playing in the NFL with Baltimore.
The 1997 game featured one of the greatest individual duals in the history of Death Valley. Tony Horne gained 267 all-purpose yards in the game, while Florida State's Peter Warrick had 372 for the Seminoles, including a 90-yard punt return and an 80-yard pass reception. Horne's all-purpose running total is the second highest in Clemson history, while Warrick's total is the most ever against Clemson.
The 1999 game was certainly a series highlight as it was the first father-son coaching matchup in NCAA history. Florida State claimed a 17-14 victory behind the passing of Chris Weinke and went on to win the national championship. It was the closest game the Seminoles had all season.
Clemson vs. Florida State by Site
Clemson has lost 10 straight games to Florida State. That is the bottom line, but a look inside the stats shows that Clemson has been much more competitive at home than in Tallahassee. Clemson has lost the five games at Clemson since the Seminoles joined the ACC by an average of nine points per game. The Tigers came within four points of victory in 1992 and within three points in 1999.
Clemson has not been close in games in Tallahassee since the Tigers won there in 1989, 34-23. The closest Clemson has come since 1989 is a 17-0 loss in 1994. The average score of the five games in Tallahassee is 42-2. The average total offense margin of the games in Tallahassee is 541-215. Florida State has scored 27 touchdowns to just one by Clemson in the last five games in Tallahassee.
Clemson-Florida State Connections
There are many connections between Clemson and Florida State in terms of coaching staff:
Clemson wide receivers coach Rick Stockstill was Florida State's quarterback between 1979-81. He passed for 1356 yards as a senior in 1981 and was a two-year starter for FSU. He quarterbacked the 1980 team to an Orange Bowl berth.
Clemson Assistant Head Coach and tight ends coach Brad Scott served as offensive coordinator of Florida State's National Championship team of 1993. He served as an assistant with the Florida State program from 1983-93. He was offensive coordinator from 1990-93. He has a master's degree from Florida State in athletic administration, a degree he earned in 1984.
Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews served in the same capacity for Clemson between 1976-80 and held the assistant head coach title under Danny Ford in 1980. Thus, when Clemson's offense and Florida State's defense are on the field, the coordinators involved coached at both schools.
Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden was a graduate assistant at Florida State in 1978 and 1979, then served as tight ends coach of the Seminoles in 1981 and 1982.
Clemson defensive backs coach Jack Hines was a graduate assistant at Florida State in 1985-86. He is married to Robyn Bowden, one of Bobby Bowden's daughters. Hines played for Bowden at West Virginia.
Tommy Bowden's brother Jeff Bowden is the offensive coordinator for Florida State.
Last Year vs. Florida State
Florida State 41, Clemson 27 at Clemson, SC Despite an impressive performance from the offense, Clemson could not overcome an early Florida State lead and a consistent passing attack that led to a 41-27 Seminole victory.
For the second consecutive year the Tigers were unable to contain the Florida State passing game as red-shirt freshman Chris Rix threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns. Javon Walker and Talman Gardner both recorded over 100 yards receiving and caught all four of Rix's touchdown passes between them. Florida State had thrown for 521 yards against Clemson the previous season.
Clemson's offensive performance nearly matched that of the Seminoles as the Tigers recorded 463 yards of total offense, the highest total Clemson has ever achieved against Florida State. Woodrow Dantzler had 336 yards of total offense, which was also the highest total in history by a Clemson player against the Seminoles.
After an early Tiger defensive stand, followed by a missed 35-yard field goal by Aaron Hunt, the Seminoles responded with an 11-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard field goal by Xavier Beitia. Four plays later, a Dantzler pass was intercepted. Rix would capitalize two plays later, throwing a 47-yard touchdown pass to Javon Walker that gave Florida State a 10-0 lead.
On the first play of the second quarter, Rix threw a pass that was intercepted by Brian Mance, and Dantzler led the Tiger offense down the field on the ensuing drive that he capped off himself with a two-yard touchdown run. Five plays later, however, the arm of Chris Rix struck again, hitting Gardner for a 28-yard touchdown reception that extended the FSU lead to 10 points for the second time.
Beitia would add a 39-yard field goal on the Seminoles' next drive, and with 2:09 remaining in the first half, Rix connected with Walker again for a 31-yard touchdown reception that gave Florida State a 20-point lead. Aaron Hunt's field goal with two seconds remaining before halftime made the score 27-10 as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
Rix and the FSU offense got the ball to start the third quarter, and picked up right where they had left off in the first half. The Seminoles' opening drive of the second half ended after Rix led the offense 80 yards on 10 plays, the final play being a four-yard touchdown pass from to Gardner. The Tigers responded with 1:54 remaining in the third quarter, when Dantzler carried the ball seven yards up the middle for a touchdown run that completed an 87-yard drive. On the drive, Dantzler gained 35 of his 59 total rushing yards for the game.
Following Brian Mance's second interception of the game at the start of the fourth quarter, Dantzler and the Tiger offense responded with a 14-play, 64-yard drive that took 6:07 off the clock and resulted in a 32-yard field goal by Aaron Hunt. Clemson would never get any closer. With just over seven minutes to play in the game, Greg Jones took a Rix handoff and ran 51 yards off the right tackle for a touchdown, which flattened the Clemson momentum and all but sealed the Seminoles' 10th consecutive victory over the Tigers. Clemson added a final touchdown with 3:43 left on a one-yard run by Bernard Rambert. The Tigers tried an on-side kick, but failed to recover and Florida State ran out the clock.
Clemson's Road Ranked Wins
Clemson will have a chance to add to its list of road wins over ranked teams this Thursday evening at Florida State . The Seminoles are ranked 11th in the nation in both polls. Clemson has a graveyard at its entrance to the practice field and erects a tombstone to document each road win over a ranked team.
Clemson added to the site last year when it won at ninth-ranked Georgia Tech, 47-44 in overtime in one of the most exciting games in school history. That was the highest ranked team Clemson had beaten on the road in 20 years. Clemson's highest ranked road win is beating a #8 North Carolina tam in 1981. Overall, Clemson has 17 wins over ranked teams on the road in its history.
Clemson had a chance to add to the list in the season opener, but dropped a 31-28 decision to eighth ranked Georgia.
Clemson Wins over Ranked Teams on the Road
Year Opponent Rk Score
1948 Wake Forest 19th 21-14
1950 Wake Forest 17th 13-12
Miami (FL) 15th 15-14
1954 Florida 14th 14-7
1959 N Carolina 12th 20-18
1977 Georgia 17th 7-6
1978 Maryland 11th 28-24
1981 N Carolina 8th 10-8
1982 Maryland 18th 24-22
1983 N Carolina 10th 16-3
1986 Georgia 14th 31-28
1989 Florida St 16th 34-23
1992 Virginia 10th 29-28
1994 N Carolina @12th 28-17
1996 Virginia 15th 24-16
1997 NC State @25th 19-17
2001 GeorgiaTech 9th #47-44
Clemson's Highest Ranked Wins
A win for Clemson over 11th ranked Florida State would be one of the highest ranked wins in Clemson history, regardless of site. The highest ranked team Clemson has beaten in history is number-four. Clemson defeated a pair of fourth ranked teams in 1981, Clemson's National Championship season. The win over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl was over a fourth ranked team, as was the regular season triumph over Georgia in Death Valley.
Regardless of site, Clemson has nine wins over top 10 teams in its history, three in Death Valley. Clemson has had 21 wins over top 25 teams since 1986 and has had at least one ranked win in 14 of the last 16 seasons. Tommy Bowden has defeated at least one ranked team each of his first three years at Clemson. The Tigers defeated Virginia, 33-14, in 1999 when the Cavs were ranked 19th (USA Today), then downed a 25th ranked South Carolina team in 2000. The Tigers then defeated 9th ranked Georgia Tech in Atlanta last year. Clemson is 0-1 vs. top 25 teams this year, a 31-28 loss at #8 Georgia
Clemson's Top 10 Victories
Year Opponent Site Rk Score
1981 Georgia Clemson, SC 4 13-3
1981 Nebraska Miami, FL 4 22-15
1959 Texas Christian Houston, TX 7 23-7
1981 North Carolina Chapel Hill, NC 8 10-8
2001 Georgia Tech Atlanta, GA 9 #47-44
1967 NC State Clemson, SC 10 14-6
1983 North Carolina Clemson, SC 10 16-3
1988 Oklahoma Orlando, FL 10 13-6
1992 Virginia Charlottesville 10 29-28
Tigers From Florida
Clemson has 16 players on its roster from the state of Florida. That list includes four players who are currently starters. That group includes starting quarterback Willie Simmons, a native of Quincy, FL who played at Shanks High School, which is very close to the Florida State campus. Charles Harper and Ronnie Thomas are two other natives of Shanks on the Clemson team this year.
The other three starters from Florida on the Clemson team are center Jermyn Chester, starting linebacker Eric Sampson and starting wide receiver Kevin Youngblood. Clemson has five players on its roster from Jacksonville, a city that has historically been good to Clemson. Two Clemson players in the NFL are from Jacksonville, Rod Gardner (Washington) and Brian Dawkins (Philadelphia).
Three of the players listed below, Gerald McCloud, Will Proctor and Buddy Williams, are freshmen who have not played this year and could be red-shirted. Clemson has two players from Tallahassee, Cliff Harrell and the aforementioned Williams.
Clemson Players From Florida
Player Pos Year City High School
*Jermyn Chester C Jr. Titusville Titusville
Ronny Delusme ROV So. Naples Lely
David Dunham LB Fr. Lake City Columbia
Jamaal Fudge CB Fr. Jacksonville White
Stephen Furr PK So. Lakeland Lakeland
Charles Harper FS Jr. Quincy Shanks
Cliff Harrell FB Fr. Tallahassee N. Florida Christian
Gerald McCloud WR Fr. Jacksonville Arlington Country Day
Tavaghn Monts ROV So. Jacksonville Ribault
Will Proctor QB Fr. WinterPark TrinityPrep
*Eric Sampson LB So. Jacksonville White
*Willie Simmons QB Gr. Quincy Shanks
Ronnie Thomas WR So. Quincy Shanks
Buddy Williams CB Fr. Tallahassee Lincoln
Bobby Williamson TE Fr. TarponSprings East Lake
*Kevin Youngblood WR Jr. Jacksonville Raines
Clemson vs. Ball State, Don't Blink
Clemson and Ball State played their game on September 21 in just two hours and 33 minutes. That was the quickest Clemson football game since 1994 when Clemson defeated Furman 33-0 in just two hours and 28 minutes. The quickest Clemson game on record took just two hours and five minutes. That contest took place in 1977 when Clemson defeated Georgia in Athens, 7-6. That afternoon, a game that was not televised, the two teams combined to throw just 23 passes.
Clemson Home Games Draw 6.7 Times the Population
You could make the statement Clemson is the most rabid football town in Division I. The data used compares average stadium attendance to city population. Last year Clemson ranked 15th in the nation in attendance average with an 80,152 figure. The town of Clemson has a population of just 11,939. That means Clemson's average football attendance in 2001 was 6.7 times the population of the city.
A look to the 2001 attendance figures and the most recent city population totals shows that only six Division I schools had a higher average attendance than the city population:
Rk School City 2001 Attend Pop Ratio
1. Clemson Clemson, SC 80,152 11,939 6.71
2. PennState StateCollege, PA 107,576 38,420 2.80
3. Auburn Auburn, AL 85,449 42,987 1.99
4. Virginia Charlottesville, VA 56,283 40,002 1.41
5. Virginia Tech Blacksburg, VA 50,762 39,573 1.28
6. Iowa IowaCity, IA 64,665 62,220 1.04
Walk-ons Making a Contribution
Clemson has 83 players on scholarship this year, but some walk-ons have made a contribution to the Clemson offense. Wide receiver Tony Elliott and center Tommy Sharpe have both started a game already this year and walk-on Stephen Furr has done a solid job on kickoffs.
Elliott has six catches for 120 yards, a team best 20.0 yards per reception. Elliott led Clemson in receiving yards against Georgia Tech with 85 on three catches. He played just 10 plays in that game as a replacement for Derrick Hamilton and his performance included a key 44-yard touchdown reception. Elliott had just one catch in his first three years, but has four receptions of at least 20 yards so far this year, the high figure on the Clemson team when it comes to receptions of 20 yards or more.
Sharpe is the second team center behind Jermyn Chester, but has played 94 snaps in the first four games, including a career high 54 in the win over Georgia Tech. Sharpe started that game and was a key to Clemson gaining 320 yards in the first 35 minutes of the contest.
Furr has kicked off 14 times in the first four games and has three touchbacks. Eight times he has forced the opposition to start its drive inside the 21-yard-line. He is a big reason Clemson leads the ACC in kickoff coverage, allowing just 17 yards per return.
A fourth original walk-on is defensive back Toure Francis. The junior from Columbia won a starting cornerback job in the preseason, but tore an ACL on the 12th play of the Georgia game. He is out for the remainder of the season, but is expected to return next season.
Washington-Jones High School Teammates
One of the most interesting and physical match-ups in the Clemson vs. Florida State game on Thursday will take place when Florida State is on offense. The Seminoles feature a ground attack led by Greg Jones, a junior running back from Beaufort, SC and Battery Creek High School. Jones was a key to the Florida State victory last year with a then career high 160 yards in 17 attempts, including a 51-yard touchdown run that clinched the victory for the Seminoles.
One of the players who will be charged with limiting Jones's rushing yardage with be Clemson defensive tackle Donnell Washington. Washington is a red-shirt sophomore from Beaufort, SC and Battery Creek High School. Both Washington and Jones were in the same high school class and will now battle against each other when the Seminoles are on offense.
Washington led all Clemson freshmen in tackles last year with 44, including eight tackles for loss and four sacks. So far this season he has 20 tackles in four games, tied for fifth on the Clemson team and second among Clemson defensive linemen.
Running Game Key to Success under Bowden
How important is the running game to Clemson under Tommy Bowden? The Tigers are 16-1 under Bowden when the Tigers rush for at least 200 yards. That stat was enhanced in the most recent game when the Tigers gained 203 rushing in the victory over Ball State.
Clemson has won 13 straight when rushing for at least 200 yards dating to the 1999 Georgia Tech game when the Tigers rushed for 231 yards, yet lost the contest, 45-42.
Clemson is 23-4 under Bowden when the Tigers win the rushing yardage stat. That includes a perfect 3-0 record this year. Clemson is also 14-3 under Bowden when it has a 100-yard rusher. Clemson is yet to have a 100-yard rusher this year, but has come close with Yusef Kelly gaining 97 and 99 yards rushing in two games this year.
200 of Each Means Clemson Victory
Balance is obviously a hallmark of any successful offense. That has been the case for Clemson over the years and under Tommy Bowden. In its 1025-game history, Clemson has a 39-0-1 record when it has at least 200 yards passing and 200 yards rushing in the same game. The undefeated streak continued in Clemson's most recent game when the Tigers had 209 passing and 203 rushing in the 30-7 win over Ball State.
That marked the 13th time in Tommy Bowden's 40 games as Clemson coach that the Tigers had at least 200 of each. Clemson did it just 27 times in 985 games prior to his arrival. The only time Clemson did not win when it gained at least 200 of each was at Georgia Tech in 1976 when the two teams played to a 24-24 tie.
McKelvey/Youngblood One-two Receiving Punch
Clemson receivers J.J. McKelvey and Kevin Youngblood have become quite a one-two punch among Clemson receivers so far this year. Both are ranked in the top six in the ACC in receptions per game. The tall duo has combined for 39 receptions in four games, nearly 10 catches per game, for 381 yards. Both players give quarterback Willie Simmons a big target, as McKelvey is 6-4 and Youngblood a 6-5 player.
Both have had career high performances of 10 catches in a game this year, the high reception total for an ACC player this year. This is the first time in Clemson history that two players on the same team have had at least 10 receptions in a game. They are just the seventh and eighth players in Clemson history to catch 10 passes in a single game.
McKelvey had 10 catches for 123 yards and a score in the win over Ball State on the 21st of September. Youngblood had his breakout game against Louisiana Tech with 10 catches for 85 yards. Both are in the top 10 in the ACC in receptions per game. Youngblood is among the top 30 in the nation on a per game basis.
The list of other Clemson receivers who have accumulated at least 10 catches in a game includes current Washington Redskins firs-round pick Rod Gardner, who did it three times, Tony Horne, who was a Super Bowl Champion with the St. Louis Rams three years ago, Perry Tuttle, a first-round pick off of Clemson's National Championship team of 1981, and Charlie Waters, one of the all-time greats in Dallas Cowboys history as a defensive back. It is interesting to note that five of the 12 double figure reception games in Clemson history have come under Tommy Bowden.
Top Pass Reception Games in Clemson History
Rec Yds Player Site-Opponent Year
11 129 Phil Rogers A-North Carolina 1965
11 111 Rod Gardner H-Marshall 1999
10 123 J.J. McKelvey H-Ball State 2002
10 85 Kevin Youngblood H-Louisiana Tech 2002
10 110 Tony Horne H-Appalachian St 1997
10 131 Tony Horne H-FloridaState 1997
10 148 Hank Walker H-Auburn 1947
10 144 Charlie Waters H-Alabama 1969
10 124 Perry Tuttle A-Wake Forest 1980
10 151 Perry Tuttle H-Maryland 1981
10 122 Rod Gardner H-Duke 1999
10 137 Rod Gardner H-NCState 2000
Clemson On Thursday Night
This will be the first of two games on Thursday night for Clemson this year. In addition to the game at Florida State on October 3, Clemson will play host to NC State on October 24. Playing on Thursday is not new for Clemson historically. Clemson and South Carolina used to play on "Big Thursday" each year between 1909 and 1959. The game was played the Thursday of State Fair week in Columbia.
Clemson has played 118 games on Thursday in its history and the Tigers are 52-56-10 overall on that day. Clemson is 487-313-30 on Saturdays in history, a 60 percent winning mark. Clemson has played on every day of the week, as you can see by the chart below:
Day Record Pct.
Sunday 1-0 1.000
Monday 7-7 .500
Tuesday 1-2 .333
Wednesday 7-3 .700
Thursday 52-56-10 .483
Friday 26-18-5 .582
Saturday 487-313-30 .603
Totals 581-399-45 .588
Clemson at Night
Clemson has a 46-45-3 record in night games in its history. But, the Tigers are just 5-18 in their last 23 night games, all since 1995. Clemson has won just three of its last 18 night games that have been shown on ESPN dating to the 1996 season. Clemson's only night game wins on ESPN during that time were at North Carolina in 2000, a win over South Carolina at home in 1998 and a win at South Carolina in 1997.
Tommy Bowden has struggled in night games as Clemson's head coach as the Tigers are just 2-8 at night since he became head coach in 1999. In 1999 Clemson was 6-1 in day games and 0-5 in night games, including a Thursday night loss at Virginia Tech.
This will be Clemson's third game on the ESPN Thursday night package. Clemson lost at home to Georgia Tech, 24-21 in 1998 and lost at Virginia Tech in 1999, 31-11.
Four Appearances on ESPN for Tigers
The Clemson vs. Florida State game will be the third of at least four appearances for the Tigers on ESPN during the regular season. This will be the most live regular season appearances on ESPN for Clemson. Clemson's season opener was also on the network, a 31-28 loss at Georgia. This Thursday night's game will be broadcast by the team of Mike Tirico, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Dr. Jerry Punch.
Clemson has been on ESPN four times in a season in 1989, 1997 and 1999, but each of those seasons included a bowl game appearance on the world's top sports network. Clemson was 4-0 in games on ESPN in 1989, 1-3 in 1997 and 0-4 in 1999.
Clemson is 14-22 in live broadcasts on ESPN over the years, but has won two of its last three. Clemson concluded the 2001 season with a win over Louisiana Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl, a game that was shown on ESPN. Clemson has played 24 games on a tape-delayed basis on ESPN, all between 1979 and 1984. Clemson was 15-8-1 in those games. Thus, Clemson's all-time record on ESPN is 29-30-1 lifetime.
In addition to the three games mentioned above, the Clemson vs. NC State game (Oct. 24) will be part of the ESPN Thursday night package.
Clemson Veterans vs. Florida State
Altroy Bodrick (LB)-has played two games, one as a starter against Florida State. Played career high 91 snaps in the 17-14 FSU win in 1999, he had seven tackles and his first career sack in that game. Played 30 snaps and had four tackles, including a tackle for loss in the 2000 game in Tallahassee. Sat out last year with a torn ACL.
Airese Currie (WR)-had four catches for 35 yards and played 41 snaps against Florida State last year in the game at Clemson.
Nick Eason (DT)-Has played in three games, two as a starter against Florida State. Played 31 snaps as a freshman in 1999 and had two tackles,, including a 14-yard sack in the 2000 game and four tackles in 48 snaps as a starter last year.
Rodney Feaster (LB)-had two tackles in 16 plays as a reserve last year vs. Florida State.
Mo Fountain (DT)-Played 18 snaps and had two tackles, one for minus yardage against Florida State as a first-year freshman in 2001.
Derrick Hamilton (WR)-Had seven catches for 88 yards in 78 plays as a freshman against Florida State last year.
Leroy Hill (LB)-had two tackles in 13 snaps as a reserve against Florida State in 2001.
Aaron Hunt (PK)-Made 2-3 field goals and 3-3 extra points against Florida State in 2001. Was 1-1 on PATs and did not attempt a field goal in the 2000 game in Tallahassee.
Kevin Johnson (CB)-Had six tackles and two pass deflections in 50 snaps as a starter in last year's game at Clemson.
Wynn Kopp (P)-Had a 41.4 yard average on five punts in the 2001 game at Clemson. Allowed just one punt return for 13 yards.
John Leake (LB)-Had nine tackles, including two for loss in 51 plays as a starter in 2001 game.
Brian Mance (CB)-Has played three games against Florida State. Has 16 tackles, two interceptions and a pass deflection in the three games combined. Has nine kickoff returns for 206 yards in his career and two punt returns for 56 yards.
J.J. McKelvey (WR)-Had one catch for 51 yards in the 2001 game at Clemson.
Bryant McNeal (DE)-Has had exactly one tackle in each of the last three Clemson vs. Florida State games. Started just the 2001 game at Clemson.
Eric Meekins (DB)-Had nine tackles in 48 plays in the 2001 game at Clemson.
Bernard Rambert (RB)-Has played two games against Florida State and has 14 carries for 73 yards, including 11-67 and a touchdown last year.
Willie Simmons (QB)-Played 34 snaps at Florida State in 2000 and completed 7-16 passes for 72 yards.
Rodney Thomas (LB)-Had nine tackles and three quarterback pressures in 52 snaps against Florida State in 2001.
Khaleed Vaughn (DE)-Has 10 tackles, five in each of the last two games against Florida State. Had a six-yard sack in last year's game at Clemson.
Donnell Washington (DT)-Had two tackles in 29 plays as a reserve as a freshman in 2001.
Returning Red-shirts Have Made a Difference
Three players who have had a positive impact on Clemson's 2002 season are Altroy Bodrick, Yusef Kelly and Kevin Youngblood. All three red-shirted the 2001 season, but have come back strong this year.
Kelly is Clemson's leading rusher this season with 302 net yards, an average of 75.5 yards per game. He has averaged 95 yards a game over the last three contests and has nine of Clemson's 21 rushes of 10 yards or more this season. He leads the team in touchdowns with five and is second in scoring with 30 points. Kelly sat out last year to red-shirt and was not injured.
Youngblood is the team's top receiver with 22 catches for 178 yards and a score. He is leading the ACC in receptions per game with 5.5. No Clemson receiver has led the league in that area since 1980 when Perry Tuttle paced the conference. Youngblood missed last year with a broken leg.
Bodrick has started all four games so far this year at the roverback position, a hybrid free safety and linebacker. He has 17 tackles to rank ninth on the team and also has two tackles for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery. Bodrick missed all of last year with a torn ACL.
Clemson Offense Showing Improvement
Clemson's offense has improved its total offense level each of the last three games. That is the first time Clemson has shown improvement in this area in three straight games since the first four games of the 1996 season. Clemson began the year with 233 yards (outgaining Georgia by 30), then accumulated 336 against Louisiana Tech, 371 against Georgia Tech and 412 in the win over Ball State.
One of the reasons for the improvement has been the play of quarterback Willie Simmons. The graduate student from Quincy, FL has seen his passing efficiency improve three straight games. He completed just 45.9 percent of his passes against Georgia, but since then has completed 60-99, a 61 percent mark. He has thrown just two interceptions in his last 100 passes and is coming off a career best 68 percent completion mark against Ball State.
Hamilton All-Purpose Performer The statistic all-purpose running was made for Derrick Hamilton. The sophomore from Dillon, SC has averaged 148.5 all-purpose running yards this year and has been especially effective in the last two games. He had 256 all-purpose yard against Georgia Tech on September 14, then followed that with 160 yards against Ball State. He did not have more than 55 yards in any one category against Ball State, but still finished with the impressive all-around total.
For the year, Hamilton has 151 yards rushing, second on the Clemson team, has 88 yards receiving, third on the Clemson team, has 216 yards in kickoff returns and 139 yards on punt returns. He leads the Clemson team in both return areas. Last year Hamilton finished third in the nation in kickoff return average and was the ACC champion in that category.
His current average of 148.5 yards per game is 22nd in the nation and exactly the same as the Clemson record for the course of a season. Tony Horne averaged 148.5 all-purpose yards per game in 1997.
Kelly Leads Ground Game
Yusef Kelly (formerly Keith Kelly his first two years at Clemson) had a career high 99 yards rushing in the win over Ball State. He has now led Clemson in rushing each of the last three games. He had 25 attempts for 97 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Louisiana Tech. Kelly now has five touchdowns for the year to exceed his previous career high and ranks in the top 30 in the nation in scoring.
Kelly's 97 yards against Louisiana Tech broke his previous career high of 93 yards against Wake Forest in 2000. He then broke that mark against Ball State. 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 of that key ACC win.
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 now has 77 completions in the first four games, the highest figure in Clemson history for the first four games of the season. His efficiency has increased every game this season.
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 52 tackles. He is tied for the lead in the ACC with 13.0 tackles per game. He has had at least 10 tackles in every game this year, including 17 in the win over 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 3.9 yards per play and just nine yards per pass reception. 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 Atlanta.
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.
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 three starts this year and four for his career. William Henry made his first career start against Georgia Tech, then started against Ball State, while guard Greg Walker has just four career starts.
Clemson's Defense, You Gotta Lovett
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.
When the Tigers face the Seminoles it will be a matchup of the ACC's top defense against the ACC's top offense. Clemson is 9th in the nation in total defense, while Florida State is 10th in total offense. Clemson is also eighth in rushing defense, while Florida State is 20th in rushing offense.
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.
Clemson has now given up just 1019 yards of total offense in four games, an average of 254.8 yards per game. Clemson allowed 395 yards a game last year, so it is easy to see the 254.8 figure for the first four games this year is considerably better. Clemson has allowed just 3.9 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 four games the opposition has taken possession of the ball at their own 38 or worse 38 times. They have driven for a touchdown just four times in those 38 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 13 turnovers in four games and turned those miscues into 41 points. Clemson has outscored the opposition in points off turnovers 41-10 for the season. It took Clemson nine games to reach 13 forced turnovers a year ago. Clemson has a +5 turnover margin through four games, a reversal of the -5 turnover margin Clemson had last year. Clemson is currently 23rd 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 averages 380 yards a game.
Clemson Defense Comparison
Category 2001 Avg. 2002
First Downs/Game Allowed 21.9 16.0
Total Yards/Game Allowed 394.9 254.8
Rushing Yards/Game Allowed 154.3 87.5
Passing Yards/Game Allowed 240.6 167.3
Yards/Play Allowed 5.3 3.9
Yards/Reception Allowed 13.4 9.0
Yards/rush Allowed 3.8 2.6
Turnovers Forced 1.58 3