CLEMSON, SC - Georgia Tech's Joe Hamilton is the kind of quarterback that gives defensive coordinators nightmares. He's quick, he can pass, he stirs a fast break offense with scrambling that keeps a defense honest.
Worst of all, he never gives up.
Not even with all the Heisman chips in other baskets, he's not giving up.
"Anytime you say to me there's no way, that's what motivates me," he told the Atlanta Constitution. "I've been going against odds all my life. It ain't over."
For Hamilton, his size is determined by his state of mind, not his body. That's the kind of thing that makes the opposition shudder - for good reason.
If Hamilton, who stands 5-10, isn't getting enough attention for the Heisman, it isn't because he hasn't run up numbers that would make someone at Florida State or Michigan a shoe-in for the award.
He's No. 1 in the nation in passing efficiency. He's completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,116 yards. It's a given that he'll end up with over 10,000 yards of total offense in his career - the first player in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference to do that.
Worst of all he doesn't sit in the pocket picking off receivers. He's a scrambler. He's got 1,540 yards rushing in his career.
Clemson could prepare for Georgia Tech by taking a look at its own offense if it weren't for Hamilton. He adds a dimension to a high-flying offense that is hard to replicate.
"They run a lot more option and that presents more problems at the defense," said Clemson coach Tommy Bowden. "We have a little bit of an option game, but we really have not run it that much. They move the quarterback and we move the quarterback. They use the shotgun and we use a lot of shotgun. The biggest difference that I see is that they have a four year starter at quarterback and they run much more option than we do."
Clemson backup quarterback Matt Schell usually runs the scout team offense. This week Bowden put freshman Willie Simmons, Bowden's hand-picked choice to run his offense one day, on the field to try to simulate some of what Hamilton does.
It would be hard to simulate Hamilton's determination. "When it counts, he makes things happen," said Clemson defensive lineman Jason Holloman. "As long as they're anywhere close, they're not out of the game. He's going to allow them to stay in the game until the last minute."
Clemson won't be able to rush the quarterback and leave Tech's receivers in man-to-man coverage, either.
"With any great quarterback, you try to take him out of his element," said Holloman.
In his element, Hamilton has led Tech to at least 30 points in every game this season.
"He makes quick and great decisions," said Bowden. "They spread the field and often times they have five receivers and no blockers for him in the backfield. In that type offense you have to have somebody that makes quick, accurate decisions."