NOTEBOOK: Tiger Defense Still a Work in Progress

by - Correspondent -
J.J. Howard picks up a fumbled pitch from Furman quarterback Bo Moore and rumbles 17 yards for the score.

CLEMSON - As far as J.J. Howard is concerned, the Clemson defense still has a long way to go.

The Tigers limited Furman's option-oriented offense to just 174 total yards in Saturday's 28-17 victory, including a net of only 94 on the ground. But the fact that Furman was able to manufacture 17 points and hang close to the Tigers in Death Valley didn't set well with the fifth-year senior.

"That performance is still not what we're capable of doing defensively," said Howard. "The mood is mixed emotions. We were glad to win, but we would have liked to win decisively. We got a little complacent in the second half."

Senior linebacker John Leake agreed.

"At times we looked really well," he said. "We need to be a fierce defense and create some turnovers. We've just got to get better, and we look forward to it next week."

Individually Howard played well.

He recorded a sack for the second straight game, and of course scored one of Clemson's four touchdowns when he picked up a fumbled pitch from Furman quarterback Bo Moore and rumbled 17 yards for the score.

He finished the game with three total tackles.


After a subpar performance vs. Georgia a week ago that had backup Curtis Baham threatening to take his starting spot, senior wide receiver Kevin Youngblood stepped up his game Saturday.

Youngblood caught 10 passes for an even 100 yards, and did it in a variety of ways. He took short passes and turned them into good gains; he worked the sidelines well, and also caught a 26-yarder in the middle of the field.

It's the kind of game head coach Tommy Bowden had been waiting on from Youngblood.

"He played well. We went to him in a lot of critical situations and he came through for us," Bowden said. "He's worked hard throughout his career, overcoming injuries."


Clemson found out what other teams soon will discover about Furman quarterback Bo Moore:

He can take a shot.

Moore was sacked four times for 30 yards in losses, and was tackled hard on a number of his 13 rushing attempts.

But he hung in well enough to keep Furman close down the stretch, and that was a welcome site to Paladins head coach Bobby Lamb.

"He took some shots out there. He didn't run the option quite as well in the first half because he didn't have a feel for what Clemson was trying to do," said Lamb. "I was very proud of him...We just couldn't come up with that one big pass play that we needed.

"They batted a couple of them down, and if we had been able to make that one big pass play then we would have had a good opportunity at the end."

- Clemson announced a paid crowd (tickets sold) of 70,000, but in reality there were slightly more than 60,000 fans actually in the stands;

- Furman's first-quarter touchdown was the school's first vs. Clemson since Billy Canty scored on Nov. 18, 1961. Saturday was the first time the Paladins scored as many as 14 points vs. Clemosn since a 42-14 loss in 1960;

- Howard's fumble return for a TD was Clemson's first defensive score since the first game of last season, when defensive end Bryant McNeal returned a fumble 55 yards for a touchdown against Georgia;

- Aaron Hunt misfired on both his field goal attempts Saturday, making him 0-for-3 now on the season.

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