TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It's not been that long ago that Willie Simmons was
lighting up scoreboards at Shanks High School in Quincy, Fla.
Fans of the high school perched firmly in the shadow of Tallahassee grew
accustomed to Simmons' high-flying exploits at quarterback. As a senior,
Simmons threw for 2,505 yards and 32 touchdowns, while running for 510 yards
and eight more scores.
He finished his sterling prep career with 6,097 passing yards and 96
touchdowns, running an offense very similar to the one he directs now for
So tonight is more than just Simmons' first start at quarterback vs. Florida
State. It is a homecoming, one which will be witnessed by a good number of
friends and family up close and personal at Doak Campbell Stadium.
"I would think he will be highly motivated and very excited," Clemson head
coach Tommy Bowden said. "I'm sure he's been to a lot of games there; he only
lives about 20 miles down the road. That's all he read in the paper every
single day. He was recruited by Florida State.
"I think he will be excited to come home and play in front of his family and
friends. His attitude will be different because he comes into the game with
a chance to win
the game from the get-go."
With that, Bowden said, comes pressure.
"It will be his first time down there as starter," Bowden said. "He knows
that we are heavy underdogs and will have to execute pretty good to win."
Because of the aggressive nature of Florida State's special teams, don't be
surprised to see the Tigers pull some hijinx in the kicking game.
It happened a year ago, when Clemson executed a fake punt seemingly to
perfection. But at the end of the long touchdown run, a mysterious flag
appeared and the Tigers were whistled for illegal procedure.
The call shot the momentum and, at least partially, the game for Clemson. But
don't expect Bowden to be gun-shy about trying such tactics again.
"Most of the tricks are used based on the style of the opponent," he said.
"They are real aggressive on punt blocks and field goal blocks. Anytime you
are that aggressive, there are some pros and cons. The pros are that you can
block some kicks and make some things happen. One of the cons is that you
leave yourself susceptible to different kinds of fakes."
J.J. McKelvey had a career-high 10 catches for 123 yards in the Tigers 30-7
win over Ball State ... Clemson has won three in a row following its
season-opening loss at Georgia ... the last five times that Clemson lost its
season opener, the Tigers have gone on to a bowl game or won at least nine
games ... Clemson has increased its total offense yardage in each of the four
games this season (233-336-371-412) ... over his last three games sophomore
tailback Yusef Kelly has run for 285 yards (95 yards per game) and three TDs
... Kelley is fifth in the ACC in rushing yards per game (75.5) and seventh
in scoring (7.5) ... WR Kevin Youngblood leads the ACC in receptions per game
(5.5) ... QB Willie Simmons is fifth in the ACC in total offense (186.8) ...
the Tigers lead the ACC and are ninth in the nation in total defense allowing
254.8 yards per game as compared to 395.0 yards allowed per contest last
Head coach Bobby Bowden is second all-time among Division I-A coaches with
327 career victories ... despite being held to a season-low 32 yards in the
Louisville loss, junior TB Greg Jones is third in the ACC in rushing (93.6);
Jones is averaging 5.4 yards per carry with no run longer than 20 yards ...
QB Chris Rix is third in the ACC in total offense (219.2) and in passing
efficiency (138.2) ... Rix had two touchdown passes against Louisville and
has thrown a TD pass in 15 of his 16 games and over 200 yards in 11 of his
last 13 ... freshman Leon Washington leads the ACC and is 21st in the nation
in punt returns (14.9) ... WR Anquan Boldin is third in the ACC in receptions
(4.8) and receiving yards (75.2) ... after having only one QB sack in FSU's
first four games, DE Alonzo Jackson came up with five in the loss to