QUARTERBACKS- After the pounding Brandon Streeter took against Virginia Tech, many Tiger fans thought the fifth-year senior was indestructible. On a seemingly harmless play against North Carolina, Streeter showed that he is mortal when he suffered a broken collarbone that will likely end his Clemson career. In relief, Woodrow Dantzler stepped in and performed admirably. While Streeter will certainly be missed, Dantzler does add another dimension to the Tiger offense. Dantzler tore up the Tar Heels with his running ability and was effective enough passing the ball to propel the Tigers to a huge win.
RUNNING BACKS- Anyone who says they thought Travis Zachery would run for 129 yards against North Carolina should go into politics. After spending much of the pre-season in coach Tommy Bowden’s dog house, Zachery has finally regained the form that he displayed late last season. Add his two receptions for 31-yards and Travis makes the Dean’s list for this week.
RECEIVERS- Rod Gardner wasn’t his usual consistent self on Saturday. Instead, he was spectacular, as he broke loose for 49 score and pulled in an amazing fingertip catch inside the UNC 10-yard line. Brian Wofford reeled in three catches for only 22 yards while Mal Lawyer was held without a catch. Regardless, Gardner’s performance alone is worthy of a high mark.
OFFENSIVE LINE- In two Clemson victories, the Tiger offensive line has protected the quarterback and been relatively effective clearing the way for the run. In two losses, the Tiger front five have been about as tough as The Jackson Five. Could this be a pattern? Even after center Kyle Young limped off the field late in the second quarter, the Clemson grunts were impressive. This should be a performance the line can build on, especially since they will now be protecting a much more mobile quarterback.
DEFENSIVE LINE- If North Carolina was going to win this game, they would have to run the ball effectively. Thanks in part to a strong effort by Clemson’s defensive front, the Heels were held to a mere 113-yards on 41 caries. While Curry was able escape from a number of would-be sacks and burn the Tigers for 65-yards rushing, Clemson’s line play was generally solid. Anyone else notice that Jason Holloman seems to only make big plays?
LINEBACKERS- Keith Adams is pretty good. Against UNC on Saturday, he set the Clemson single-game record for tackles for loss with six, including two critical stops on third and short. Perhaps the most important thing to note about Adams is that he’s only a sophomore. In two years, this guy may be banned in some states. While Adams was menacing as usual, the rest of the tiger corps struggled to keep Curry from running wild. All in all, though, a strong effort by the young group.
SECONDARY- While the secondary was strong again, forcing four interceptions and holding Curry to 12-28 passing for only 162-yards, the Tiger defensive backs did allow a few deep balls. None the less, this unit again proved that they are one of the best in the nation. By this time next year, teams will have quit throwing to Alex Ardley’s side of the field altogether.
SPECIAL TEAMS- See Marshall, Virginia, Virginia Tech.
COACHING- While last week’s fake field goal was nice, the Tiger coaching staff put together their most effective performance as of yet against the Tar Heels. The Tiger offense took only one series with Dantzler behind center before it started to click. A few nice misdirection sweeps allowed Zachery to pick up big yardage and Rod Gardner finally broke a big one on a great pump fake by Dantzler. Quite simply, Bowden, Rodriguez, Herring and company made Carl Torbush look bad.