How Do You Stop Woody Dantzler?

by - Correspondent -
Dantzler has led Clemson to 92 points in wins over Georgia Tech and N.C. State.

CLEMSON - Woody Dantzler's astounding performance in his last two games has been enough to, simultaneously, resurrect his Heisman Trophy candidacy, reinvigorate the fans' view of the 2001 season and, most importantly, keep his team in the thick of the Atlantic Coast Conference title race.

In case you've been under a rock - or perhaps went into hiding after the Virginia loss - you've missed Dantzler personally accounting for 935 yards and 10 touchdowns, while leading the suddenly explosive Clemson offense to 92 points in wins over Georgia Tech and N.C. State.

But more than just the numbers, Dantzler's explosion has provided a quandary for defensive coordinators yet to face the senior quarterback.

Do you go with your strength on defense and risk adding to Dantzler's personal highlight film? Or do you weaken yourself by abandoning your base defense, choosing instead to modify it in some way that might slow Dantzler?

Such decisions are why major college coaches make huge salaries, and why job security can be as fickle as last week's performance.

"That's a decision all guys have to make," Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said following Monday's practice. "It's like us. How much do we adjust our system to account for (North Carolina defensive end) Julius Peppers? It weakens us at the other place, because that No. 87, he ain't bad either.

"Originally N.C. State put a linebacker eight yards back and they were going to shadow (Dantzler). That's not their base defense, but they had a plan. I'm sure North Carolina will do the same thing."

The adjustment did little to help the Wolfpack. State's very nature defensively is to get aggressively up the field with their defensive line. Georgia Tech shared a similar philosophy. So does North Carolina.

Dantzler shredded the first two. He gets his shot at the Tar Heels Saturday.

"They're not an East-West (defense). They're not read and react," Bowden said. "They go, they're charged, and they create havoc."

That style would appear to play into Dantzler's strength. But the Tar Heels had a solid game plan for him in 2000 and had a 17-0 lead before Dantzler was hurt and had to leave the game. Backup Willie Simmons then came off the bench to throw four touchdown passes and engineer a dramatic comeback victory in Chapel Hill.

While the head coach and defensive coordinator have changed, Bowden expects UNC's philosophy vs. Dantzler to remain very much the same.

"They had a pretty good plan against Woody last year, and they have that same coach (former defensive coordinator and current tight ends coach/recruiting coordinator Ken Browning) on the staff," Bowden said. "I'm sure they'll be sharing some ideas from last year, because they were pretty productive against us and hemmed ol' Woody up pretty good."


- Bowden said wide receiver Jackie Robinson, missing for the last two games with a broken jaw, could be back this week depending on an evaluation today.

Meanwhile, freshman wide receiver Roscoe Crosby's troublesome knee will be evaluated today, as well. His status for Saturday still remains questionable.

Defensive end Nick Eason (ankle) and guard T.J. Watkins (foot, knee) were in yellow jerseys Monday. They will be evaluated on a daily basis.

- Bowden said "MonitorGate," the controversy surrounding the alleged use of television monitors to chart plays at halftime by N.C. State assistants last Saturday, has been handles through the proper channels.

"I spoke with the proper authorities, and it's now a dead issue," he said.

He declined to elaborate further.

- Clemson dominated the ACC Performers of the Week list, released Monday.

Dantzler's well-documented performance earned him Offensive Back of the Week, while center Kyle Young was named Offensive Lineman of the Week after grading out at 90 percent and recording a season-high 19 knockdown blocks.

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Derrick Hamilton (8 receptions, 106 yards and a touchdown) was Rookie of the Week.

- Clemson's Oct. 27 game at Wake Forest will be a 12:10 p.m. kickoff and be televised by Jefferson Pilot.

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