THREE-PEAT! '88 Tigers Capture 3rd ACC Title


by - Correspondent -
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1988 (10-2-0, 6-1-0 ACC Champions))


Ranked 8th UPI, 9th AP, 10th USA Today

S 3  40-7   W H  Va. Tech (4-NR)
S 10 23-3   W H  Furman (3-NR)
S 17 21-24  L H  FSU (3-10)
S 24 30-13  W A  Ga Tech (12-NR)
O 8  10-7   W A  Virginia (11-NR)
O 15 49-17  W H  Duke (11-22)
O 22 3-10   L A  N.C. State (9-24)
O 29 38-21  W A  W Forest (15-NR)
N 5  37-14  W H  NC (17-NR)
N 12 49-25  W A  Maryland (16-NR)
N 19 29-10  W H  SC (15-25)
J 1  13-6   W N1 Oklahoma (9-10)
N1 at Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL

As we continue to sing the praises of the Danny Ford era,
the 1988 Tiger football team is our pick for the sixth greatest Clemson
team of all time, giving coach Ford five teams in the top ten thus far.
The 1988 Tigers finished the season with a 10-2-0 record, and a 6-1
record in the ACC as conference champions. The only two losses were a close
21-24 loss to Florida State in the legendary Puntrooskie game, and a low
scoring 3-10 upset at N.C. State. But during the remainder of the season,
the Tigers demonstrated their uncanny ability to put points on the scoreboard
and win by large margins.


Under quarterback Rodney Williams in 1988, Clemson scored at least twenty
points in ten games. The Tigers ran over Virginia Tech with a
40-7 win before giving Duke and Maryland a lesson in total offense and point
scoring by putting 49 points on the board in both games. Clemson scored 28
points in the 4th quarter on only nine offensive plays in the Maryland game,
and the win gave the Tigers their third straight ACC title. Clemson had a
incredible three games during the season with a total offense of 500 yards or
more, the most notable being 533 yards in the 49-17 win over Duke.
The most effective trait of the Tigers' 1988 team was the ability to get
the job done on both sides of the ball. Not only was the offense explosive,
but the defense managed to hold nine of the twelve teams played during the
season to less than 20 points.


Quarterback and team captain Rodney Williams finished his final season at
Clemson with impressive stats. He threw 122 consecutive passes without
an interception, and holds the Clemson record in interception avoidance at
.0192. Williams also completed 78 passes for 1144 yards in 1988, adding to
his career total of 333 passes for 4647 yards.


Wide receiver Keith Jennings caught 30 of Williams's passes for 397
yards, and receiver Gary Cooper set a Clemson record for yards per reception.
Cooper caught 13 passes for a total of 417 yards, averaging an incredible
32.1 yards per reception.


But this team was know for its ability to run the ball, and leading the
charge behind the line were superstar tailback Terry Allen and fullback Tracy
Johnson. With these two power-backs running the ball, Clemson was able to
accumulate 3241 total rushing yards, and win four games in which they rushed
for over 300 yards.


Sophomore Terry Allen alone caused substantial damage to any
opponent's defensive self-esteem. He ran for 167 yards against UNC and 154
against Wake Forest, and finished the season with 216 carries for 1192 yards
and 10 touchdowns.


Kicker Chris Gardocki set a new record as a freshman by making 19 field
goals, 2 of them in the close 13-6 win over Oklahoma in the Citrus Bowl.
Clemson's special teams also set a record in kickoff return yards by
returning the ball a total of 231 yards in a single game against Duke.
The Clemson offense was able to score almost at will, but the 1988 Tiger
defense was personally responsible for holding their opponents to such low
scores. Behind the defensive line was an army of pass rushers, sack artists, and
pick-happy defensive backs, led by future pro bowler Levon Kirkland. Inside linebacker Ed
McDaniel led the 1988 team in tackles with 104, while Jesse Hatcher led the
team in sacks with 7.5 from the outside linebacker spot.


The defensive backfield proved to be deadly for risky quarterbacks as strong
safety Gene Beasley picked off 3 passes during the season, and recovered 2
fumbles in a single game against Furman. Donnel Woolford broke up a total of
15 passes from the cornerback position, helping the 1988 Clemson defense
finish as the 12th-best unit nationally.


The highlight of the regular season was the win over South Carolina, who had
beaten the Tigers during the previous season. The Gamecocks fell by a score
of 29-10 in a game that marked the end of quarterback Rodney Williams'
career. Williams still holds a Clemson records with 32 wins as starting
quarterback.


The 1988 Clemson Tigers set some records as individuals and as a team,
but it was their ability to effectively work together that gave them an
outstanding record and a bowl win.


Offense

TE: James Coley, 6-5, 250, Sr. (11)

LT: Frank Deluliis, 6-5, 280, Sr. (12)

LG: Jeb Flesch, 6-3, 270, Fr. (9)

C: Jeff Bak, 6-2, 265, Sr. (12)

RG: Eric Harmon, 6-1, 265, So. (12)

RT: Jeff Nunamacher, 6-2, 300, Sr. (11)

FLK: Ricardo Harper, 5-10, 171, Sr. (9)

QB: Rodney Williams, 6-2, 210, Sr. (12)

TB: Terry Allen, 5-11, 195, So. (12)

FB: Tracy Johnson, 6-0, 230, Sr. (10)

WR: Keith Jennings, 6-4, 235, Sr. (12)

PK: Chris Gardocki, 6-2, 185, Fr. (12)

Defense

OLB: Levon Kirkland, 6-1, 215, Fr. (7)

LT: Vance Hammond, 6-7, 280, So. (7)

MG: Mark Drag, 6-4, 255, Sr. (12)

RT: Richard McCullough, 6-5, 265, Sr. (11)

BAN: Jesse Hatcher, 6-2, 218, Sr. (12)

SLB: Ed McDaniel, 6-0, 220, Fr. (9)

WLB: Doug Brewster, 6-1, 195, So. (10)

LC: Donnell Woolford, 5-10, 195, Sr. (12)

FS: James Lott, 5-9, 175, Jr. (12)

SS: Gene Beasley, 5-11, 210, Sr. (11)

RC: Dexter Davis, 5-11, 175, Fr. (7)

P: Chris Gardocki, 6-2, 185, Fr. (8)

Number in parentheses is games started by that player regardless of position in that season.


Clemson All-Time Teams

#6 -- 1988

#7 -- 1982

#8 -- 1989

#9 -- 1983

#10 -- 1979


Look for the #5 All-Time Clemson team on Friday, August 11

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