CLEMSON --- Almost a week after producing a horrendous performance against Duke, Clemson starting cornerback Sergio Gilliam is no longer a starter. Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said those duties will be turned over to either Duane Coleman or true freshman Haydrian Lewis when Clemson kicks off against Florida State Saturday in Death Valley.
The change comes because Gilliam allowed almost 140 of Duke’s 328 passing yards in last week’s 49-20 victory. Koenning and head coach Tommy Bowden both lit into the junior from Greer during the game. Bowden said after last week’s win, he would probably have to apologize for some of what he said to Gilliam, but only about 20 percent of it.
Koenning said he did give Gilliam a lot of love after the game, only because he was on him the whole day. Gilliam graded out at 60 percent for the Duke game, far below the passing grade of 93 which Koenning uses as a benchmark for his corners.
“When you grade in the 60s, that’s just not acceptable,” he said.
Coleman has played in six games since moving to corner early in the season. Thus far he has 14 tackles and no pass breakups in 90 snaps.
“I don’t know in my heart if he is the answer, but I think he is part of the solution,” said Koenning about Coleman. “I think part of the solution is also getting Sergio to play better.”
Lewis, who allowed a 66-yard touchdown pass last week and missed an open tackle on a 32-yard run against Georgia Tech on Oct. 29, has five tackles and no passes broken up in 92 snaps.
“Haydrian has not played that poorly and he actually played fairly well last week. He did get exposed on that one play (against Duke), and we have to help that schematically,” Koenning said.
The change comes as Clemson prepares for Florida State and an offense which is averaging an ACC best 309.1 yards through the air and 33.9 points a game.
“We just have to put our best players on the field without weakening other positions,” said Koenning.
Gilliam took over the corner position when Justin Miller, a second round draft choice of the New York Jets, decided to turn pro last winter. He has started every game this season, but breakdowns in coverage and run responsibility in several games has forced Koenning to go in a different direction.
“(Gilliam) is an awfully good person and had given us a lot of good football this year and it is not all on him, but that’s a start,” Koenning said. “Everybody, though, has to do their part to do better this week.”
Florida State (7-2, 5-2) is coming into Memorial Stadium leading the ACC in total offense with a 420 yards per game average. Florida State likes to spread the field and is primarily a throwing team. Freshman Drew Weatherford has thrown for 2,323 yards and 15 touchdowns so far this season.
But Koenning isn’t forgetting about Seminole tailbacks Lorenzo Booker or Leon Washington.
“They’re still a good running team back there,” he said. “I don’t know how many Parade all-Americans they have back there. They do spread, and we will do what we have done when we have played other spread (teams). I want them to get into situations where they have to go to spread because it’s a long yardage situation and you get them behind schedule.
“You can’t let any offense get two-dimensional. If you get someone one-dimensional then you have a better chance for success.”
Clemson-USC game at Littlejohn. Clemson officials are examining the possibility of televising the Clemson-USC football game on Nov. 19 at Littlejohn Coliseum, but no plans have been finalized.
Mom is coming. At his Tuesday press conference, Tommy Bowden said his mother had reservations about coming to Saturday’s Bowden Bowl. But on Wednesday, Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden said his wife Ann was going to make the trip after all.
Celebration. Tommy Bowden said he read his team an article from the USA Today and retrieved film of last week’s Florida-Vanderbilt football game, in which Vanderbilt players received an excessive celebration penalty after moving within one-point of upsetting the Gators in Gainesville.
The penalty forced Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson to kick the extra point in the final moments which put the game into overtime, instead of going for two, which he said after the game was his plan.
Florida won the game in double overtime by a score of 49-42.
With two emotional games ahead against Florida State and South Carolina, Bowden warned his team that this can happen to them and he wants them to think about how they celebrate a play or touchdown.