Simmons Continues to Improve for the Tigers


by - Correspondent -
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<font class=caption>Simmons rushed for 50 yards on 13 carries against FSU.</a>
Simmons rushed for 50 yards on 13 carries against FSU.

CLEMSON - For a few plays last Thursday, it was almost deja vu for the
Clemson offense.


There was quarterback Willie Simmons, in the shotgun vs. Florida State,
keeping the ball on running plays that made former Tiger Woodrow Dantzler so
dangerous. The fake to running backs Bernard Rambert or Keith Kelly and
keeper in the opposite direction worked for positive yardage almost without
fail against the Seminoles.


Because of that, and some internal evaluating, don't be surprised if you see
more of the same the rest of the way in 2002.


"You want to break tendencies," head coach Tommy Bowden said. "(Defenses)
read a certain angle by the back and a blocking scheme, and they take off
because (the running back) has the ball. We hadn't abandoned it completely.
It's just that we had given the ball to the back 100 percent. It wasn't
really anything Florida State did. It was more of a tendency-breaker than
anything else."


Simmons' rushing totals (13 carries, 50 yards) don't seem impressive until
you factor in he was charged with 17 yards in losses on two quarterback
sacks.


His effectiveness on the ground was a welcome compliment to the career-best
293 passing yards Simmons put up against FSU. And even his two interceptions
could be written off - one was a deflected pass which should have been
caught, and the other was a deep ball thrown from his own end zone on third
and long that actually served as more effective a punt than almost anything
Wynn Kopp got off during the game.


Simmons' performance pleased Bowden, who has seen his quarterback continue to
improve virtually every week.


"He's very accurate, very composed, he ran when he had to run and got
positive yardage," Bowden said. "On the deep throws he made, they were
accurate enough for the guy to catch it or to have an opportunity to catch
it. He made good decisions, and that might have been his most consistent
game."


Willie Simmons Weekly Stats in 2002

Opponent   Com-Att Yds TD-Int Eff    Pct Rush Yds Plays Tot Off 
Georgia      17-37 165 1-1    86.9  .459 8    -29 25    136 
La Tech      25-43 242 0-0    105.4 .581 6    -8  49    234 
Georgia Tech 18-31 176 2-1    120.6 .581 8     8  39    184 
Ball State   17-25 188 1-1    136.4 .680 3    13  28    201 
Florida St   17-27 293 2-2    163.8 .630 13   50  40    343 


Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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