Game 8: NCSU vs Clemson Notes
Clemson Has Had Success vs. Ranked NC State Teams
Clemson has had some success against ranked NC State teams in the past.
Clemson is 5-4 against top 25 NC State teams, including four of the last five
meetings when the Pack has been ranked in the top 25. Three times Clemson has
upset an NC State team ranked 12th or better, all games that took place at
Clemson. NC State is ranked ninth in the USA Today Coaches poll this week, 12th
by Associated Press.
In 1967 a Wolfpack team came to Clemson with an 8-1 record. Current NC State
Coach Chuck Amato was a starting defensive player on the 10th ranked NC State
team that started the year 8-0 before losing to Penn State the week prior to
Buddy Gore, who has a son on the Clemson roster by the same name, had 96
yards rushing and 28 receiving to lead the Tigers. He scored Clemson's first
touchdown on a 28-yard reception from Jimmy Addison. It was the only touchdown
reception of Gore's career and his first catch of the 1967 season (ninth game of
the year). He had just seven catches his entire Clemson career, so you could
call it a trick play of sorts by Frank Howard. Clemson held the Pack to 152
yards of total offense in gaining the 14-6 victory.
NC State was known for its "White Shoes" defense that year. Howard decided to
answer with his own uniform ploy. He had his managers buy up all the orange
paint in Clemson and painted his players' shoes orange for that game.
Clemson also defeated ranked NC State teams in consecutive games in Death
Valley. In 1989 NC State entered the game ranked 12th in the UPI Coaches poll
and 13th by AP and the Tigers won 30-10. Two years later the Pack was ranked
10th by the coaches and 12th by Associated Press, but Clemson won 29-19. NC
State was 6-0 heading into both games.
Danny Ford's last Clemson team ironically ended the season ranked 12th in the
final poll with a 10-2 record, and the 1989 victory over NC State had a lot to
do with that. Clemson jumped out 14-0 in the first period and was never
threatened. Joe Henderson led the way with 84 yards rushing on offense, while
Dexter Davis had 10 tackles and an interception to lead the defense. Clemson's
defense held the Pack to 67 yards rushing and intercepted quarterback Shane
Montgomery three times.
Two years later, Ken Hatfield's second Clemson team pulled off the upset with
a 29-19 victory. Nelson Welch booted five field goals to set a Clemson record.
The Tigers warmed up in orange jerseys, then appeared at the top of the hill in
purple. The Tigers jumped out to a 23-7 lead at halftime behind 297 yards of
total offense. A touchdown on a fake field goal by Rudy Harris gave Clemson
Clemson also gained victory over ranked NC State teams in 1993, a 20-14
victory at Clemson, and a 19-17 win in Raleigh in 1997. NC State was ranked 25th
in the USA Today poll entering that game. The Tigers won on a 20-yard field goal
by Matt Padgett with 19 seconds left.
Clemson vs. Ranked NC State teams
Year Site NCS Rk Winner Score 1957 Clemson 13 NC State 7-13 1967 Clemson 10 Clemson 14-6 1974 Raleigh 15 NC State 10-31 1986 Raleigh 20 NC State 3-27 1989 Clemson #12 Clemson 30-10 1991 Clemson #10 Clemson 29-19 1992 Raleigh 23 NC State 6-20 1993 Clemson 24 Clemson 20-14 1997 Raleigh #25 Clemson 19-17 #Coaches' Poll ranking
Clemson's Highest Ranked Wins
A win for Clemson over ninth-ranked NC State would be the 11th win over a top
10 team in Clemson history, but just the fourth in Death Valley. Clemson
defeated fourth-ranked Georgia, 13-3 in 1981 and 10th ranked NC State in 1967
and 10th ranked (Coach's poll) NC State in 1991 for its other home wins over top
Clemson does have 10 top 10 wins in its history, but seven have taken place
on the opponent's home field or in a bowl game. Clemson had three of the nine
during its 1981 National Championship season.
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 defeated 9th ranked
Georgia Tech in Atlanta last year. Clemson is 0-2 against top 20 teams this
year, a loss at Georgia and a loss at Florida State. In both games Clemson
out-gained the opposition, but lost.
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 Chapel Hill, NC 10 16-3 1988 Oklahoma Orlando, FL 10 13-6 1991 NC State Clemson, SC *10 29-19 1992 Virginia Charlottesville, VA 10 29-28 #Overtime, *Coach’s poll.
Clemson Has Ended Undefeated NC State Seasons
Four times since 1989 Clemson has ended an undefeated NC State season.
Granted, one of the years we are counting is 1997 when NC State was just 2-0,
but in three other recent seasons Clemson has stopped Wolfpack perfect starts
that have been 4-0 or better.
The last time NC State came to Clemson the Pack were 4-0 under first-year
head coach Chuck Amato. Clemson came away with a 34-27 victory, giving Clemson a
7-0 mark at the time. In 1991 and 1989 NC State came to Clemson with a 6-0
record and left with a loss each time. The Pack is 8-0 heading into Thursday
night's game, its best start since 1967.
Both Teams Coming off Close Home Victories
Clemson and NC State both enter this game coming off home victories by eight
points or less. The Tigers defeated Wake Forest last Saturday, 31-23, while NC
State downed Duke in Raleigh, 24-22.
Clemson trailed 23-14 in the third period and still faced a 23-21 deficit
heading into the fourth period. But the Tigers scored 10 points in the final
period and held the Demon Deacons scoreless. Wake Forest trailed by eight and
drove to the Clemson 18 with under two minutes left, but on a third-and-two
play, Brian Mance stripped a Wake Forest running back inside the 10-yard-line.
The ball rolled into the endzone and was eventually batted through the end line
by Altroy Bodrick. Clemson ran out the final 1:15 to preserve the victory.
Clemson gave up 523 yards to Wake Forest, the most yards ever by a Tiger
opponent in a Clemson victory. But, the Tigers forced five second-half
turnovers, three interceptions and two fumbles. Justin Miller, Mance and Bodrick
had interceptions, while Travis Pugh had the fumble recovery. Mance does not get
credit for a takeaway because he did not recover the fumble, but it was
certainly a huge play.
The victory was in direct contrast to Clemson's previous two games, which
both ended in defeat. Clemson out-gained Florida State and Virginia by nearly
200 yards combined, but lost both of those games. Wake Forest had 243 more yards
than Clemson, but the Tigers came away with the triumph.
NC State struggled with a Duke team that lost its 21st straight conference
game. Duke scored a touchdown with 16 seconds left, and then recovered an
on-side kick. Duke ran off three more plays, but they were all incomplete
passes. A 65-yard field goal fell short and NC State had its eighth straight
victory this season, its ninth in a row over Duke.
Philip Rivers, the nation's leader in passing efficiency this week, threw for
a season high 364 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way for NC State. He had
a pair of 100-yard receivers in Jerricho Cotchery and Sterling Hicks. Cotchery
had 174 yards on six catches and had a touchdown score.
Clemson vs. NC State Series Notes
The 22nd Annual Textile Bowl
Clemson and N.C. State will do battle in the 22nd annual Textile Bowl when
the two teams meet in in Clemson on October 24. Clemson has a 15-6 advantage in
the series since the game took on the Textile Bowl title in 1981, the year
Clemson won the National Championship. The Textile Industry has a very important
effect on the economy of North Carolina and South Carolina and the two schools
competing in Thursday's game.
Overall, Clemson has a 44-25-1 lead in the series, including an 18-10 record
in games played at Clemson. The Tigers are 15-10 against NC State in games
played in Death Valley and the Tigers have scored 499 points in those 25 games.
Clemson is 11-1-1 against NC State in neutral site games and 15-14 in games at
Raleigh over the years, including last year's 45-37 victory.
Many of the Textile Bowl contests have been close, including each of the last
five, which have all been decided eight points or less. Five years ago in
Raleigh, Matt Padgett booted a 20-yard field goal with just 19 seconds left to
give Clemson a 19-17 victory. The Tigers drove 78 yards in 14 plays to set up
the winning score. Nealon Greene hit 20-32 passes for 250 yards and Tony Horne
caught eight passes for 112 to key the Clemson offense.
In 1998 at Clemson, Torry Holt completed an incredible day with a nine-yard
scoring pass from Jamie Barnette with just 37 seconds left. It was his fourth
touchdown reception of the day. He had 225 yards receiving in that game.
In 1999, NC State, behind Head Coach Mike O'Cain, defeated Clemson 35-31 in
an exciting contest in Raleigh that featured 35 first-quarter points between the
two teams combined, most combined points ever in the first period of a Clemson
game. Clemson had five possessions in the fourth period with a chance to take
the lead, but could not drive for a winning touchdown.
The 2000 game was a thriller that came down to the last possession before the
Tigers came away with a 34-27 victory. Woody Dantzler completed 18-30 passes for
220 yards and also rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Rod Gardner had 10
catches for 137 yards, while Travis Zachery added 31-147 and two scores.
Last year was the Woody Dantzler show as he gained 517 yards of total
offense, an all-time Clemson record. He had a career best 23-27 passes for 333
yards and four scores, and also rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Still,
it was a 45-37 outcome, as Rivers had another outstanding passing game for NC
Another close game took place in 1993. Clemson held a 20-0 lead after three
quarters thanks to an offense that gained 250 yards rushing, but had to hang on
in the last minute to gain the victory. Tim Jones broke up each of the
Wolfpack's last two pass plays of the game at the Clemson goal line over the
last 12 seconds of the contest to preserve the Tiger victory.
Last Four Meetings Have Featured Offense
The last four meetings between Clemson and NC State have featured high
powered offensive shows. In fact, the average score between the two teams in the
last four meetings is Clemson 37 and NC State 36. Clemson has outscored the Pack
149-145 in the last four meetings combined.
Over the last four meetings, Clemson has averaged 25 first downs, 175.5 yards
rushing, 291.2 yards a game passing, 467 yards of total offense and 37.3 points
per game. The Pack has averaged 17.5 first downs, 52.2 yards a game rushing,
322.5 passing and 374.8 yards of total offense per game against the Tigers in
the last four meetings.
Last year's game featured 333 yards passing by Clemson and 331 by NC State,
the only game in Clemson history in which both teams threw for at least 330
yards in the same game. Last year the Tigers gained 567 yards of total offense
in Raleigh, Clemson's highest total-offense figure in history on an opponent's
In 1998, Clemson scored 39 points and lost, at the time the most points
Clemson had ever scored in a loss. Brandon Streeter completed 27-38 passes for
329 yards in that game. Clemson has scored at least 31 points in four straight
games against NC State.
The two teams are 2-2 in these four games. NC State won in 1998 and 1999 and
Clemson won in 2000 and 2001.
Clemson Offense vs. NC State 1998-01 Year FD Rushing Passing Total Off Pts 1998 22 40-111 27-38-329 78-440 39 1999 21 33-83 24-42-285 75-368 31 2000 30 65-274 18-30-220 95-494 34 2001 28 52-234 23-27-333 79-567 45 Totals 101 190-702 92-137-1167 327-1869 149 Avg. (25.3) (175.5) (291.2) (467.3) (37.3) NC State Offense vs. Clemson, 1998-01 Year FD Rushing Passing Total Off Pts 1998 14 23-21 20-33-374 56-395 46 1999 21 46-135 15-30-215 76-350 35 2000 14 23-32 21-50-370 73-402 27 2001 21 21-21 25-48-331 69-352 37 Totals 70 113-209 81-161-1290 274-1499 145 Avg. (17.5) (52.2) (322.5) (374.8) (36.3)
Last Year's Game
Woodrow Dantzler's 517-yard performance against North Carolina State not only
set numerous Clemson records, but also propelled the Tigers into the thick of
the ACC championship race. Dantzler completed 23 of his 27 passes for 333 yards
and also threw four touchdown passes, tying his backup Willie Simmons for the
school record. In addition, Dantzler tallied 184 rushing yards to go along with
two touchdown runs. Dantzler became the first quarterback in ACC history to pass
for 4,000 yards and rush for 2,000 yards in a regular season career.
Dantzler's 517 total yards left him 38 yards short of the ACC record for an
individual game and it was the fifth highest total in league history. The
graduate student set Clemson records for touchdowns (6), touchdown passes (4)
and passing efficiency (237.6).
Dantzler got the Tigers going on just the third play from scrimmage. Dodging
would-be tacklers in the middle of the field and breaking out to the left
sideline, he sprinted 55 yards down the field to the Wolfpack end zone, giving
the Tigers a 7-0 lead less than 90 seconds into the game.
North Carolina State would counter following Clemson's next possession;
Wolfpack quarterback Philip Rivers took advantage of a Tiger miscue on special
teams by hitting Jerricho Cotchery in the corner of the end zone for an
eight-yard touchdown reception, tying the score 7-7. Rivers and Cotchery
connected again on a 19-yard scoring effort seven minutes later to give the
Wolfpack a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Dantzler completed all five of his passes on a nine-play, 71-yard drive that
he capped off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Hamilton, tying the score
at 14. Racking up 27 rushing yards and completing his sixth and seventh
consecutive passes of the game, Dantzler drove the Tigers downfield just before
halftime. Tight end Ben Hall's 7-yard touchdown reception with 56 seconds
remaining gave Clemson its second lead of the game. An NC State 20-yard field
goal made the halftime score 21-17.
The Tiger defense came out strong in the second half, holding N.C. State to
-24 yards on seven plays on its first two drives. Taking advantage right away,
Dantzler's 10th consecutive completion of the game went to Travis Zachery on a
rollout pattern, and Zachery coasted 22 yards for the score on the Tigers'
fourth play from scrimmage in the second half. Dantzler finished off the next
Tiger drive with an eight-yard touchdown run, giving Clemson a 35-17 lead with
7:53 left in the third quarter.
Cotchery's third touchdown reception of the game, this time from Bryan
Peterson went for 21 yards, rallying Wolfpack fans and cutting the Tiger lead to
12. After the extra point failed, Dantzler and the Tiger offense retaliated once
again, delivering a crushing blow to the Wolfpack victory hopes.
Beginning at the eight-yard line, Dantzler led the Tiger offense down the
field with the same success he'd experienced the entire game. He carried the
ball four times for 54 yards, including a 41-yard tackle breaking scamper worthy
of the Sportscenter highlights; he also completed three out of four passes for
21 yards, including a four-yard toss to fullback Chad Jasmin that gave Clemson
its biggest lead of the game at 19 points, a lead which would prove to be
Rivers and the Wolfpack offense staged a furious comeback in the fourth
quarter. Rivers' 12-yard touchdown pass to W. Wright with 2:57 remaining in
regulation narrowed Clemson's lead to eight; but after recovering the ensuing
onside kick, Dantzler foiled the Wolfpack defense once more. Scampering 14 yards
and achieving a critical first down with two minutes to play, Dantzler proceeded
to run out the clock and preserve the Tiger victory.
October 13, 2001 At Raleigh, NC
Clemson 7 14 21 3 - 45
N.C. State 14 3 6 14 - 37
CU - Dantzler 55 run (Hunt kick), 1st, 13:36, 3-81
ST - Cotchery 8 pass from Rivers (Kiker kick), 1st, 7:43, 2-9
ST - Cotchery 19 pass from Rivers (Kiker kick), 1st, 0:40, 9-46
CU - Hamilton 10 pass from Dantzler (Hunt kick), 2nd, 9:47, 9-71
CU - Hall 7 pass from Dantzler (Kiker kick), 2nd, 0:56, 6-75
ST - Kiker 20 FG, 2nd, 0:00, 5-61
CU - Zachery 22 pass from Dantzler (Hunt kick), 3rd, 12:47, 4-54
CU - Dantzler 8 run (Hunt kick), 3rd, 7:53, 8-69
ST - Cotchery 21 pass from Peterson (Kiker kick failed), 3rd, 6:48, 4-89
CU - Jasmin 4 pass from Dantzler (Hunt kick), 3rd, 0:57, 13-92
ST - Peterson 15 pass from Rivers (Rivers pass failed), 4th, 12:51, 4-39
CU - Hunt 31 FG, 4th, 5:34, 6-34
ST - Wright 12 pass from Rivers (Robinson pass), 4th, 2:57, 12-70
Team Statistics CU ST
First Downs 28 21
Rushing 52-234 21-21
Passing 23-27-0 25-48-1
Passing Yards 333 331
Total Offense 79-567 69-352
Yard/Play 7.2 5.1
Return Yards 123 159
Fumbles-Lost 2-2 0-0
Total Turnovers 2 1
Penalties 20-181 12-118
Interceptions 1-19 0-0
Punt Returns 6-54 0-0
Kickoff Returns 3-50 7-159
Punting 2-45.0 7-41.4
3rd Down Conversions 5-11 5-16
Sacks by Defense 3-22 2-24
Time of Possession 32:58 27:02
CU - Dantzler 23-184-2, Zachery 15-43-0, Rambert 8-43-0, Currie 2-5-0
ST - Robinson 12-38-0, Edwards 1-3-0, Jackson 1-1-0, Peterson 1-1-0, Rivers
CU - Dantzler 23-27-333-0-4
ST - Rivers 24-46-310-1-4, Peterson 1-2-21-1-1
CU - Hamilton 8-106-1, Zachery 5-81-1, Hall 3-39-1, Bailey 2-14-0, McKelvey
2-8-0, Currie 1-79-0, Jasmin 1-4-1, Jenkins 1-2-0
ST - Peterson 6-120-1, Cotchery 6-72-3, Wright 4-78-1, Edwards 3-28-0,
Jackson 3-12-0, Robinson 2-9-0, Graham 1-12-0
CU - Hemby 1-19
Punt Returns (No-Yds)
CU - Mance 6-54
Kickoff Returns (No-Yds)
CU - Mance 2-38, Hamilton 1-12
ST - Reid 4-79, Golden 3-80
Clemson Defensive Leaders
Tackles - Leake 14, Carson 11, Bush 8, Hafley 6, Meekins 6, Washington 5,
Francis 5, Feaster 5.
Sacks - Washington 2-15, Carson 1-7
Tackles for Loss - Washington 2-15, Carson 2-9, Bush 2-5
Interesting Matchup in Passing Game
The top matchup of the Clemson vs. NC State game on Thursday night might be
the NC State passing offense against the Clemson pass defense. NC State is
ranked first in the ACC in passing efficiency offense with a 159.8 figure, while
Clemson is second in the league in pass efficiency defense, giving up a 107.9
NC State averages 263 yards per game through the air, while Clemson gives up
just 164.1 yards per game best in the league. The Tigers are tied for the ACC
lead in interceptions with 11, while NC State has thrown just six interceptions
in eight games. Individually there is a matchup of sorts. Philip Rivers leads
the nation in passing efficiency, while Clemson's Brian Mance is 15th in the
nation in interceptions, first in the ACC.
Clemson has won each of the last two meetings against the Pack, but not due
to Rivers. The junior quarterback has thrown for 680 yards in two games against
Both Teams Have Just Four Days to Prepare
Both teams enter this game after having played a game on Saturday, October
19. It is a quick turnaround for both teams. This is just the second time since
1933 that Clemson has played two games within five days.
The last time Clemson played two games within a five-day period was 1982.
That year Clemson opened the season on a Monday night on ABC with a loss at
Georgia (13-7), then played at home against Boston College and Doug Flutie the
following Saturday, a game that ended in a 17-17 tie. That was quite a challenge
as both teams ended the year in bowl games and were a combined 19-4-2. Clemson
ran the table after that tie with Boston College and ended the season 9-1-1.
This is Clemson's fourth game on the ESPN Thursday night package, but the
first time the Tigers have had a quick turnaround. Clemson had previously always
had the previous Saturday open. Clemson is 0-3 in its previous Thursday night
appearances, including a loss at Florida State this year. Clemson has not won a
game on Thursday since 1963 when it defeated South Carolina on Thanksgiving Day,
a contest that was moved to that day due to the death of President John Kenendy.
Prior to 1982 you have to go all the way back to 1933 to find the last time
Clemson played two games in five days. That year Clemson defeated The Citadel on
November 25th, then lost to Furman five days later on November 30, 6-0.
The last time Clemson won a game on just four days rest was in 1929. Clemson
defeated The Citadel 13-0 on November 23, then defeated Furman on November 28,
Playing games in short time periods was commonplace in the early days of
college football. In fact, Clemson played three games in seven days twice, once
in 1907 and once in 1911. Clemson lost to Auburn on November 4, lost to Georgia
on November 7 and to Davidson on November 9 in 1907. The Tigers defeated South
Carolina on November 2, defeated The Citadel on November 4 and lost to Georgia
on November 9 in 1911.
Overall, Clemson has a 10-12-4 record in its history with five days or fewer
in between games.
O'Cain Faces Former Team
Current Clemson quarterbacks coach Mike O'Cain will face a past employer this
week. O'Cain, a 1977 Clemson graduate, served as head coach of NC State from
1993-99. He replaced Dick Sheridan at NC State in 1993 and took the Pack to an
8-4 record, including a Peach Bowl invitation. The next year he had the Wolfpack
at 9-3 in the regular season, including a victory over Clemson in Death Valley,
the first Clemson graduate to defeat the Tigers.
His 1998 season featured a win at Texas and a triumph over Florida State,
just the second loss for Florida State in its ACC history dating to 1992. He
took the Pack to another bowl game in 1998, his third as head coach of the Pack.
Last year he coached the Tiger quarterback in the 45-37 victory over NC
State. Clemson had 567 yards total offense in that game, most ever in a road
game, including a school record 517 yards from Woody Dantzler.
Ironically, one of O'Cain's top games as a player at Clemson came against NC
State. In 1976, he rushed for 140 yards against NC State, the Clemson
quarterback rushing record for a game until 1994. As a Tiger he still ranks 14th
in school history in passing efficiency.
Bowden and Amato Were on Same FSU Staff
Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden and NC State Head Coach Chuck Amato were both
on Bobby Bowden's Florida State staff in 1982. That Florida State team finished
9-3, ranked 13th in the country and appeared in the Gator Bowl. Bowden was a
part-time coach working with the receivers, while Amato was a fulltime coach in
charge of the defensive line. Amato worked for Bobby Bowden from 1982-99 before
becoming the head coach at NC State this year.
Both coaches have had success early in their respective head coaching
careers. Bowden took Tulane to an undefeated 11-0 record in the regular season
of 1998 and brought the Tigers to a top 15 final ranking in 2000 after an 8-0
start. Amato has taken NC State to a bowl game in each of his first two years
and now has the Pack at 8-0 and ranked in the top 10 in the nation.
Clemson Has Played 12th Toughest Schedule
Clemson has a 4-3 record against a schedule ranked as the 12th most difficult
in the nation by the Jeff Sagarin computer poll, a rating published by USA
Today. Sagarin is one of the computer rankings used by the BCS standings. The
Tigers are ranked 35th overall in that ranking.
Clemson has losses to two top 15 teams so far this year, an undefeated
Georgia team and a 5-2 Florida State team that lost by a point to number-one
ranked Miami (FL). Florida State is ranked fourth in the Sagarin poll overall
and has the second most difficult schedule ranking, the only team in the nation
ranked in the top 10 in both areas. Clemson's third loss is to a 6-2 Virginia
team. Thus, the three teams who have beaten Clemson this year have a combined
record of 18-4.
Clemson's highest final schedule ranking in the history of the Sagarin poll
is a #7 rating in 1999, Tommy Bowden's first year as head coach. Clemson was 6-6
that year, but still had a final top 25 ranking (24th) according to Sagarin's
computer rankings. Clemson's highest overall final ranking by Sagarin is #15 in
Nation's Most Difficult Schedules, 2002
Nation’s Most Difficult Schedules, 2002
Rk Team Rec. Rating
1. Southern Cal 5-2 79.84
2. Florida State 5-2 79.59
3. Stanford 2-4 78.07
4. Arkansas 3-3 78.06
5. UCLA 4-3 77.71
6. North Carolina 2-5 77.34
7. Texas Tech 5-3 76.97
8. Notre Dame 7-0 76.52
9. Northwestern 2-6 75.48
10. Alabama 5-2 75.39
11. Florida 5-3 75.26
12. Clemson 4-3 75.22
Clemson Veterans vs. NC State
*Airese Currie (WR)-Had just one reception, but it was for 79 yards, at NC
State last season.
*Ben Hall (TE)-Had three catches for 39 yards and his first career touchdown
at NC State in 2001.
*Derrick Hamilton (WR)-Had eight catches for 106 yards and a touchdown at NC
State in 2001. At the time, it was a Clemson record for reception yards in a
game by a freshman. It was later broken by Roscoe Crosby against Duke in 2001.
*Aaron Hunt (PK)-Is 11-12 on extra points and 1-2 on field goals in two games
against NC State. He scored 10 points last year on a field goal and 7-7 extra
*Chad Jasmin (RB)-Did not carry the ball, but caught a four-yard scoring pass
from Woodrow Dantzler at NC State in 2001.
*Wynn Kopp (P)-Had a 45.0 average on two punts at NC State in 2001.
*John Leake (LB)-Had 14 tackles in 76 snaps at N C State in 2001.
*Brian Mance (CB)-Had three tackles, 6-54 on punt returns and 2-38 on kickoff
returns at NC State in 2001. Had two tackles in the 2000 game at Clemson.
*Bryant McNeal (DE)-Has five tackles in the last two games against NC State,
including a three-yard sack in 2000 at Clemson.
*Eric Meekins (SS)-Had six tackles and career best three passes broken up at
NC State in 2001.
*Bernard Rambert (RB)-Had 8-43 rushing at NC State in just 18 plays in 2001.
*Jackie Robinson-Had 2-22 receiving against NC State in 2000. Missed last
year's game with a broken jaw.
*Willie Simmons (QB)-Has never played in a game against NC State.
*Rodney Thomas (LB)-Had three tackles in 59 plays at NC State in 2001.
*Donnell Washington (DT)-Ha five tackles, all first hits, at NC State in
2001. He had 2-15 in sacks, his single game career high in sacks.
Clemson Completion Percentage at Record Rate
Clemson is completing passes at a 61.2 percent rate, a record pace. The
percentage is third best in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Clemson has completed
145 of 237 passes so far this season for a .612 rate. That is ahead of the .605
pace set by the 1997 Clemson team that was led by current Canadian Football
league star Nealon Greene. The only other Clemson team to complete 60 percent
over the course of the season is the 1989 Tiger team that was 117-195, exactly
60 percent. Current wide receivers coach Rick Stockstill was the quarterbacks
coach and passing game coordinator that year.
Starting quarterback Willie Simmons has completed 58.8 percent of his passes
so far this year on 130-221. He was 21-33 last week against Wake Forest, a 63.6
percent mark. He has thrown for 1404 yards and seven scores, an average of just
over 200 yards per game.
Clemson's reserves have had an impact on the percentage as Tony Elliott,
Charlie Whitehurst and Jeff Scott are a combined 15-16 this season, including
12-13 by Whitehurst. The freshman completed his first 12 passes as a Clemson
quarterback, the best streak ever by a Clemson quarterback at the beginning of
Top Single Season Team Completion %
Rk Year Comp-Att Pct
1. 2002 145-237 .612
2. 1997 188-311 .605
3. 1989 117-195 .600
4. 1999 252-423 .596
5. 2001 226-395 .572
6. 1995 122-215 .567
7. 1985 137-247 .555
8. 1982 98-178 .551
Clemson Converting Before Halftime
Clemson has done a good job of scoring just prior to the half in 2002. So far
this year Clemson has recorded a touchdown on its last possession of the half
with 80 seconds or less remaining in six of the seven games. Three of the drives
have been for over 60 yards and the Tigers have negotiated the distance in less
than 90 seconds in each situation.
The streak started when Clemson scored at Georgia on a 21-yard touchdown pass
from Willie Simmons to Kevin Youngblood with just eight seconds left. The Tigers
failed to do it against Louisiana Tech, but have now done so the last four
games. The streak continued last week when Tye Hill scored his first career
touchdown on a 32-yard run with just a minute left in the first half. Brian
Mance had set up the score with an interception.
Against Wake Forest the Tigers gained some momentum going into the locker
room with a 65-yard drive that included five passes in five attempts for 64
yards by quarterback Willie Simmons. Yusef Kelly scored on a one-yard run with
eight seconds left in the half.
Clemson’s Last Possession of the Half in 2002Game Last Possession Drive Time Left
Georgia TD, Simmons to Youngblood 21 Yds 9-64-1:16 :08
La Tech -
Geo Tech TD, Simmons to Williamson, 2 yards 4-5-:50 :38
Ball State TD, Hamilton 9 run 3-21-1:03 1:20
Florida St. TD, Simmons to Hamilton, 9 yards 6-86-1:25 :27
Virginia TD, Hill 32 run 1-32-:08 1:00
Wake Forest TD, Yusef Kelly 1 run 6-65-1:15 :08
Mance All-ACC Candidate at Cornerback
Brian Mance recorded his fourth interception of the season and his 10th as a
Clemson Tiger against Wake Forest. It was the second straight game that he
recorded a theft. Mance is tied for ninth in Clemson history in career
interceptions with his double figure career total. The all-time leader is
all-time great Terry Kinard with 17. Kinard was recently inducted into the
College Football Hall of Fame.
Mance also has one fumble recovery in his career, giving him 11 career
takeaways, best among active Tigers and among the top 15 totals in Clemson
history. He needs just two more takeaways to move into sixth place in Clemson
Mance has moved into the ACC lead in interceptions and passes defensed and he
ranks 15th in the nation in interceptions with his four picks in just seven
games. He is a big reason Clemson is tied for the ACC lead in interceptions with
The senior had an outstanding game against Wake Forest with seven tackles, an
interception and a caused fumble. The caused fumble really saved the day for the
Tigers. A Wake Forest running back was streaking towards the Clemson endzone when Mance stripped the ball from behind. The momentum carried the ball into the endzone and it was batted through the endzone for a touchback with 1:15 left.
Clemson ran out the clock and won the eight-point decision.
The senior from Alcolu, SC has now played 42 games at Clemson, 21 as a
starter. He has missed just one game (UNC in 2001) in his career when his
brother was killed in auto accident last year on his way home from the NC State
game. Mance's birthday is on Tuesday, October 22.
For the season, Mance has 40 tackles to rank fifth on the on the team. He has
played more snaps than any other Tiger with 445 and he also leads the team in
passes defensed with 10. Thirty-two of his 40 tackles have been individual hits.
Total Offense Not Indication of Winner
The team that has won the total offense aspect of the game has won just three
of the seven Clemson games so far this year. Each of the last three games the
team that has won that aspect of the statistics has lost the game. Entering this
year Tommy Bowden had a 23-4 record when winning the total offense margin, but
this year Clemson is just 3-3 in that situation.
Clemson gained 441 yards against Florida State in just 61 plays, an average
of 7.23 yards per play. That was the highest yards per play average in Clemson
history in a game the Tigers lost. The previous record was a 6.78 figure in a
28-25 loss to Maryland in 1959. In that game Clemson had 434 yards in 64 plays.
Clemson had won 33 games in a row when averaging at least 6.5 yards per play
dating to the 1975 season when Clemson averaged 6.61 yards per play in a 25-21
loss to Duke.
Clemson followed that up with a 5.6 average at Virginia, yet lost the game.
The Tigers had 25 first downs at Virginia and held the Cavaliers to 80 yards
rushing 40 attempts. Additionally, Clemson had a pair of drives of at least 92
yards, the first time in history Clemson has had a pair of 90 yards in the same
game. But, Virginia came away with the victory.
Against Wake Forest, Clemson gave up 523 yards to the Deacons, including 365
on the ground. The 523 yards are the most ever yielded by the Clemson defense in
a Tiger victory. Clemson had 280 yards in the Wake Forest game, so Wake Forest
had a +243 total offense margin in the contest, but Clemson won the game 31-23.
Turnovers have been the name of the game. Clemson had a -5 turnover margin in
the two losses to Virginia and Florida State combined (committed six and forced
one). Clemson had a +5 turnover margin against Wake Forest, a game it won. Wake
Forest had entered the game with just five total turnovers all year, then
committed five against Clemson, all in the second half.
Clemson did not commit a turnover on offense against the Deacs, the first
time since the 2000 North Carolina game, 16 games ago, that Clemson had a game
without a turnover. The five forced turnovers were the most forced by the
Clemson defense since Clemson's defense forced six in a win over Missouri in
2000, 22 games ago.
Clemson Second in ACC in Total Defense
Clemson is most improved when it comes to defense. The Tigers are ranked
second in the ACC in total defense, allowing just 316.6 yards per game, and that
figure ranks 21st in the nation. Clemson has allowed just 164. yards per game
passing, 12th best in the nation. Last year Clemson ranked 71st in the nation in
total defense and 66th in pass defense.
Clemson allowed 395 yards a game last year, so it is easy to see the 316
figure for the first seven games this year is considerably better. Clemson has
allowed just 4.6 yards per play, much improved from the 5.3 allowed per play a
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
seven games the opposition has taken possession of the ball at their own 38 or
worse 60 times. They have driven for a touchdown just seven times in those 60
possessions. Wake Forest had 11 possessions that started at their own 38 or
worse and drove for a touchdown just once.
Clemson Defense Comparison
Category 2001 Avg. 2002
First Downs/Game Allowed 21.9 18.0
Total Yards/Game Allowed 394.9 316.6
Rushing Yards/Game Allowed 154.3 152.4
Passing Yards/Game Allowed 240.6 164.1
Yards/Play Allowed 5.3 4.6
Yards/Reception Allowed 13.4 10.0
Yards/rush Allowed 3.8 3.7
Hamilton All-Purpose Performer
The all-purpose running statistic was made for Derrick Hamilton. The
sophomore from Dillon, SC has averaged 164.6 all-purpose running yards/game this
year and has been especially effective in the last five games. He had 256
all-purpose yard against Georgia Tech on September 14, then followed that with
160 yards against Ball State. He added 248 yards at Florida State and followed
that with a 206-yard game at Virginia. He had 104 yards against Wake Forest,
giving him four straight games of at least 100 all-purpose yards.
As you can see by the chart below, he has had two of the top eight
all-purpose running games in Clemson history over the last three weeks.
For the year, Hamilton has 177 yards rushing, second on the Clemson team, has
278 yards receiving, third on the Clemson team, has 471 yards in kickoff returns
and 226 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. Thus, Hamilton has at last 175 yards in
all four categories already this year.
His current average of 164.6 yards per game is 16 yards per game ahead of the
Clemson record of 148.5 yards per game set by Tony Horne in 1997.
Hamilton has been very effective when it comes to rushing. He has 15 rushes
on reverses from his H-receiver position and has 177 yards, an 11.8 yards per
carry figure. No Clemson rusher has ever averaged over 10 yards per carry given
a minimum of 15 rushes for the course of a season. Five of his 15 carries have
been for at least 10 carries, including a 77-yarder against Georgia Tech.
Entering the NC State game Hamilton ranks 10th in the nation and first in the
ACC in all-purpose yards per game. Horne ranked 14th in the nation in 1997, the
highest final ranking for any Clemson player in history.
Hunt Sets Clemson Record
Aaron Hunt established a Clemson record for extra points in a career when he
booted two against Virginia. The junior now has 112 in 116 chances in his
career. He went ahead of the 107 career extra points by Bob Paulling, who played
for the Tigers from 1979-83.
Hunt scored five points in that game and now has 199 for his career, good
enough for seventh in Clemson history. He needs just one point to become just
the seventh Clemson player in history to record 200 or more points, quite an
accomplishment for someone in the middle of his junior year. The all-time leader
is Nelson Welch with 301.
Hunt has now made 29-40 field goals, including 9-12 this year. He ranks 24th
in the nation in field goals per game and is 58th in scoring.
Hunt made 4-4 field goals in the win over Louisiana Tech. 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.
Simmons On Record Rate for Completions
Clemson quarterback Willie Simmons has averaged 18.6 completions per game,
ahead of Woody Dantzler's record of 16.9 completions per game set last year.
Simmons has completed 130 of 221 passes so far this year for 1404 yards and six
scores. He has a 58.8 completion percentage, a figure that would be fourth best
in Clemson history given a minimum of 100 completions. The record is .631 by
Brandon Streeter in 1999.
Simmons had made improvement each week during the 2002 season prior to the
Virginia game. He completed 15-25 passes for 135 yards against the Cavaliers,
his first decline from the previous week all season. He followed that with a
solid 21-33 for 205 yards an no turnovers in the win over Wake Forest. He scored
on a 13-yard run, his first career rushing touchdown.
The chart below shows that his passing efficiency improved every game from
game's 1-5, hitting a high of 163.8 at Florida State in the most recent game. He
has completed at least 58 percent of his passes each of the last six games and
at least 60 percent in four straight.
He had his best all-around game as a Clemson quarterback at Florida State.
Playing in front of his mother and 50 other friends, the native of Quincy, FL
completed 17-27 passes for 293 yards and two scores. The yardage total was a
career high, as was his 11 yards per attempt. Simmons also had a career high 50
yards rushing in 13 attempts, giving him 343 yards of total offense, the eighth
highest single total in Clemson history. Only Woodrow Dantzler, Bobby Gage and
Brandon Streeter have had higher figures for a single game.
Simmons set a school record for pass completions and attempts by an
individual in a Clemson victory when Clemson defeated Louisiana Tech in the
second game of the season. He completed 25-43 passes in that game for 242 yards.
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 against Louisiana Tech 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.
Tigers Recover On-Side Kick
Whenever the Bowden's get together chances are there will be some trickery
involved. Tommy Bowden might have pulled off the most surprising play in the
four Bowden Bowls when he had his team on-side kick after the Tigers first
score, Clemson's first kickoff opportunity, in the first quarter. Stephen Furr and J.J. McKelvey had been practicing the play all week and they worked it to
perfection, giving Clemson the ball after the Tigers had tied the game at seven.
"The thing about that is you can't practice it in pregame," said Bowden the
next day. "Rodney Allison had noticed in his film study that the player on that
side of the field was retreating early to get into blocking position, so we
decided to try it."
McKelvey recovered at the Florida State 49 and Clemson drove for another
touchdown, giving Clemson a 14-7 lead, its first lead in Tallahassee at any
point of a game since 1989.
What was especially noteworthy is that the on-side kick was the first
recovered by a Clemson team since the 1979 season. The Tigers last recovered an
on-side kick in the fourth period of the 1979 Peach Bowl against Baylor. Clemson
did not score on its extra possession that day and lost 24-19.
Walk-on Elliott Making Big Contribution
Walk-on senior Tony Elliott has made a big impact on the Clemson offense
almost on a weekly basis. He has caught at least one pass in six of the first
seven games, Virginia was the only team to shut him out. For the season, Elliott
has eight catches for 143 yards, fourth on the team in yardage.
The engineering student with a 3.54 career GPA has made many big plays, and
has four catches for at least 20 yards, third on the team. Elliott's 17.9 yards
per reception leads the team. He scored his first touchdown as a Tiger on a
44-yard touchdown reception against Georgia Tech, a key play in Clemson's
Against Florida State he was at it again. A quarterback as a sophomore in
high school at James Island High in Charleston, Elliott completed a 41-yard pass
to McKelvey on an end-around play. It set up a Clemson field goal, giving
Clemson a 17-14 lead at the time.
Elliott began his career at Air Force Prep School in Colorado, but
transferred to Clemson in January of 1999. He has overcome much hardship. When
he was nine years old his mother was killed in front of his eyes in an auto
accident when their car was struck by a drunk driver. Elliott has another year
of eligibility, but will graduate in December. He has not decided if he will
return for another season.
Hall Over 100 Receiving Yards at Tight End
Tight end Ben Hall had his top game as a Clemson player at Florida State with
three catches for 69 yards. He did not score a touchdown, which he has done
three times previously in his career, but the yardage total was a career high.
Hall now has eight catches for 112 yards this year, fourth on the team in
receptions and fifth in yardage. The sophomore had eight catches for 79 yards
and three scores all of last year. Hall is the first Clemson tight end to have
over 100 yards receiving in a season since Pat Cyrgalis had 12-152 in 1999.
Clemson tight ends have been more involved in the offense since Brad Scott
came to Clemson with Tommy Bowden in 1999. Clemson tight ends have caught eight
touchdown passes the last four years (including one this year by Bobby
Williamson). Clemson went nine years without a tight end catching a scoring pass
Clemson does have a good tradition of tight ends. Bennie Cunningham was a
two-time All-American in 1974-75 and was the only tight end named to the ACC's
50-year Anniversary team. Jim Riggs was a two-time All-ACC player in 1985-86 and
played in the Super Bowl with the Cincinnati Bengals. Lamont Hall is currently
with the New Orleans Saints, his fifth year in the NFL after player for Clemson
Defensive Linemen Getting Pressure
One area of improvement for the Tigers and a reason Clemson has improved to
become a top 25 defense is the pressure Clemson is getting on the quarterback
from the starting front four. The group of Nick Eason, Donnell Washington, Khaleed Vaughn and Bryant McNeal has recorded 13 of Clemson's 17 sacks through
seven games. The foursome also has 46 quarterback pressures.
Last year Clemson had just 27 sacks and the starting front four linemen
recorded just 15 sacks overall. The group was credited with 53 quarterback
pressures for the 12 games in 2001. The pressure provided by the front four is a
big reason the Tiger s are 12th in the nation in pass defense entering the Wake
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 Ball State 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 41 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
Clemson Trio of 6-4 Receivers
Clemson receivers J.J. McKelvey, Kevin Youngblood and Derrick Hamilton are
all at least 6-4 in height and they have used that advantage to rank in the top
seven in the ACC in receptions per game. They have combined for 93 catches in
seven games, over 13 per game.
It was Hamilton who had the big game against Virginia with 8-81. That gave
Clemson three different receivers who have caught at least eight passes in a
game this year. They combined for 17 catches against Wake Forest, six each by
Hamilton and Youngblood and five catches for McKelvey.
Youngblood and McKelvey had career high performances of 10 catches in a game
earlier 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
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
The list of other Clemson receivers who have accumulate 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.
McKelvey added another 100-yard game at Florida State when he had 5-117 at
Florida State. He was the first Tiger to have consecutive 100-yard receiving
games since Rod Gardner did it in 2000. He had 70 receiving yards against Wake
Forest and ranks seventh in the ACC in reception yards per game.
It is interesting to note that five of the 12 double figure reception games
in Clemson history have come under Tommy Bowden.
Leake, Thomas Lead Tacklers
Clemson senior Rodney Thomas and junior John Leake have been going back and
forth as far as the Clemson team lead in tackles. They have also both been near
the top of the ACC tackle stats all year.
Leake had 14 tackles against Wake Forest and retook the lead with 86 tackles
in his seven games. Thomas ranks second with 84. Leake has had double figure in
six of the seven games this year, while Thomas has had double figures in five of
the seven games. His five-game streak was snapped against Wake Forest. He had
posted consecutive games of 16 tackles against Florida State and Virginia.Thomas now has 238 tackles for his Clemson career.
Kopp Shows Improvement
Clemson senior punter Wynn Kopp was in danger of losing his job after
struggling in consecutive games against Florida State and Virginia, two games
Clemson lost. He fumbled a snap on the opening drive of the Florida State game
that led directly to a Seminole touchdown, then averaged just 31 yards a punt on
six punts at Virginia.
Tommy Bowden had open competition for the position the week of the Wake
Forest game and the decision was not made until just before kickoff. Bowden went
with the experience and started Kopp against Wake Forest. The native of Athens,
GA responded with a fine all-around performance. He had a 48-yard punt on his
first attempt of the game and went on to averaged 39.6. But, most importantly,
he had a 36-yard net average, his best of the season. Three times in his eight
punts he pinned Wake Forest inside its own 20, leading to good field position
for the Tigers.
Kopp has been much more effective in Death Valley than on the road this year.
In four games at home he has averaged 39.2 yards per punt and has an acceptable
35.4 net punting average. On the road he has a 35.6 average and a 28.4 net
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 393 net yards, an average
of 56 yards per game. He has 10 of Clemson's 35 rushes of 10 yards or more this
season. He leads the team in touchdowns with eight and is second in scoring with
48 points. Kelly sat out last year to red-shirt and was not injured.
Youngblood is the team's top receiver with 35 catches for 285 yards and a
score. He is among the ACC's top receivers with 5.0 catches per game. 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 seven games so far this year at the roverback position, a hybrid free safety and linebacker. He has 36 tackles to eighth on
the team and also has four tackles for loss, a sack, an interception and a
fumble recovery. Bodrick missed all of last year with a torn ACL.
Field Position Has made a Difference
Field position has been important for the Tigers this year, especially in the
last three games. In fact, the team that has had the better average starting
field position has won six of the seven games this year.
One of the reasons Clemson lost to Florida State and Virginia, despite
winning the total offense war was field position. In the loss to Florida State
the Seminoles average start was their own 43 yard-line, while Clemson's average
start was its own 30, a 13-yard difference. At Virginia the difference was 17
yards, as Clemson started at its own 22, but Virginia started on average at its
own 39. Over the two game period the opposition started on average at its own
41, with Clemson starting at its 26.
Clemson improved in that area against Wake Forest with an average start of
its own 35 to Wake Forest starting at its own 27. And, Clemson won the game,
Sampson Interception Ends Georgia Tech Threat
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.
Sampson has started every game this year and has been a big contributor. He
has 35 tackles, including a sack in his 438 snaps from scrimmage. He had nine of
those tackles in the opener at Georgia, the second highest total for the Tigers
in that game.
Eason-McNeal Top Tacklers Up Front
Seniors Nick Eason and Bryant McNeal have had a lot to do with Clemson's
improvement up front on defense. They are side by side on the Clemson tackle
chart as McNeal is sixth on the team in tackles with 40, while Eason is seventh
with 38. McNeal has seven tackles for loss to lead the team, plus five sacks,
one of the top totals in the ACC.
Eason has five tackles for loss, including four sacks.The graduate student
had two sacks in the victory. He was a big reason Tech quarterback A.J. Suggs
had -50 yards rushing in the game.It marked the first time in Eason's career
that he had two sacks in the same game. He now has 26 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 281 yards per game for the
McNeal has been very consistent throughout his career. He has never missed a
game and the NC State game will be his 44th in a row. He led the team in sacks
last year with eight and now has 13 over two seasons.
Miller Becoming Rookie of the Year Candidate
Freshman defensive back Justin Miller made his first career start against
Wake Forest and had an outstanding contest. The first-year freshman had 10
tackles, an interception and a pass broken up to pace the Clemson secondary
along with Brian Mance.
The tackle total was the most by a freshman cornerback since 1986 when James
Lott had 10 in the 1986 Gator bowl win over Stanford. Miller's interception in
the third period helped change the momentum of the game. He had a touchdown
saving pass broken up and defended Wake Forest stat Fabian Davis most of the
game. Davis had just three catches the entire game.
Miller had a reception and an interception against Louisiana Tech, an example
of his fine all-around abilities. The first-year player had a nine-yard
reception in the first half and an interception in the endzone at a key juncture
of the second half to thwart a Bulldog drive. He was named ACC Rookie of the
Week for his performance against the Bulldogs.
It marked the first time since 1964 that a Clemson player had an interception
and a reception in the same game. Pat Crain was the last to do it as he had a
15-yard interception return and a reception against Virginia on Halloween of
1964. It should be noted that players went both ways in those days, so Miller
was the first to do it in the two-platoon era. Miller also had three tackles in
the game and played 29 snaps. With the season ending injury to starter Toure Francis, Miller will get a lot of action this season.
Miller was named to the ESPN.com all-first year freshman team for September.
He was joined in the secondary by J.J. Billingsley of Colorado, O.C. Collins of
Memphis and Matt Fawley of Arizona State. Other ACC players named were D'Quell Jackson of Maryland (LB), Darryl Blackstock of Virginia (LB), Kwakou Robinson of
Virginia (DL), T.A. McLendon of NC State (RB), and D'Brickashaw Ferguson of
Miller is second on the team in interceptions with three and has 48 return
yards in the process. He has 29 tackles for the year, including a six on special
teams, tied for second on the team. He has had at least one pass defensed in six
straight games, including a touchdown saver against Virginia's Billy McMullen in
the fourth quarter on October 12.