CLEMSON - While there wasn't much substance to the first varsity football
game played at Riggs Field since 1941, Clemson's annual Orange-White spring
game proved to be a decent enough show for the 8,000-plus who jammed their
way into what normally serves as the school's soccer facility.
Playing against a non-blitzing, very generic defensive scheme Saturday,
Clemson's offense managed 44 points on its defense in four quarters of play.
Rising junior quarterback Willie Simmons led the Tigers' first team offense
to 27 of those points, scoring on four of the last five possessions he
directed the unit.
"It's kind of a play-callers dream," head coach Tommy Bowden said. "You've
got a limited front, no blitzes and generic coverages. Certain plays can work
over and over and over. And I thought a couple of them did."
For the record, Simmons was 13-of-25 for 198 yards and one touchdown, a
beautiful 19-yarder he floated over the outstretched arms of a pair of
Clemson defensive backs and into the waiting hands of Derrick Hamilton.
His backup, freshman Charlie Whitehurst, also played well. Whitehurst was
20-of-26 for 174 yards, though he was sacked six times for 42 yards in losses
and threw two interceptions.
But the points and firepower meant little. Bowden, notoriously conservative
with his play-calling in the spring anyway, likely played it even closer to
the vest Saturday because the game was taped for playback on television.
So without the complex formations, schemes and coverages to judge his
players' performance, Bowden and his staff will be scouring the game film for
the most basic signs of a good football team.
"You look more for effort, leadership skills and things like that," Bowden
said. "Some of the effort you have to wait (to see on film). But I thought we
had a really productive spring as far as guys staying healthy, getting work
accomplished and making improvement from the first day to the last day."
Still, watching running back Chad Jasmin step forward with the first team and
rush for 68 and three touchdowns on 13 carries, or linebacker John Leake make
a team-high 13 tackles, or interceptions by Toure Francis and Terrence Huey,
was pleasing to the coaching staff.
And Simmons continues to exert himself as the solid No. 1 quarterback despite
the impressive play of the younger Whitehurst.
"All (Simmons) needs is just to go do it," Bowden said. "He's had all the
preliminary, all the quizzes...he just needs the test, the final exam. That
won't come until Athens. He's been in big games, he's played against Florida
State, he played against North Carolina down 17-0...
"He needs to just go through a spring and summer with the team on his
shoulders. But he doesn't have to carry them as much as just steer the car."
Clemson Spring Game Statistics
Chad Jasmin 13-68-3; Tye Hill 13-50; Willie Simmons 6-48; Bernard
Rambert 3-23; Kyle Browning 4-20; Keith Kelly, 5-20; Lionel
Richardson 7-17; Cliff Harrell 5-10-1; Britt Sherman 1-3; Tyrone
Lee 3-3; Brandon Holmes 1-1; Charlie Whitehurst 9- (-23)
Willie Simmons 13-25-0-198-1; Charlie Whitehurst 20-26-2-174; Joe
Eugene Koon 6-54; Derrick Hamilton 4-74-1; Bobby Williamson 4-47;
Jeff Scott 4-35; Airese Currie 3-99; Jackie Robinson 3-21; Ronnie
Thomas 3-15; Tony Elliott 2-24; J.J. McKelvey 2-12; Gene Pate
1-30; Ben Hall 1-6
Terrance Huey 1-52; Toure Francis 1-0
Fumble Recoveries: Meekins, McClinton
Caused Fumbles: Mance, Feaster
Passes Broken Up: Monts, Fudge, Johnson, Burnett
Leake 13, Hill 12, Meekins 9, Monts 7, Pugh 7, Dunham 7, Fountain 6,
Burnette 5, Fudge 5, Johnson 5, Feaster 5,