CLEMSON - If nearly four years ago can be considered old times, Clemson's
final first half possession last Saturday against Wake Forest harkened back
to that era.
Trailing 16-7 and taking possession at the 35 with just 1:23 left in the
half, off they went. It took just six plays, masterfully engineered by
quarterback Willie Simmons, to cover the 65 yards and find the end zone:
Five deadly accurate passes, including a beautiful 25-yard skinny post to
J.J. McKelvey down to the Deacs' 1-yard line, and the ensuing plunge by Yusef
Kelly to pull the Tigers within 16-14.
The entire drive took just 1:15. Finally, the fans seemed to say with their
cheers, the quick-strike offense is back.
Not so fast, if you'll pardon the pun.
"That was more of a two-minute situation because of the time," head coach
Tommy Bowden said. "We haven't thought about opening a game like that."
Bowden's pronouncement no doubt will come as a disappointment to many.
They recall his first year, 1999, when the offense operated at that breakneck
speed as a rule, rather than the exception. Being back on the line of
scrimmage, snapping the ball with as many as 18 seconds remaining on the
25-second play clock, lining up and doing it again while the opposing defense
struggled to keep up, tongue's dragging; those were the good ol' days.
Apparently those also were the days of infancy for Bowden's offense.
As time has worn on, Bowden said, the offense has evolved to the point that
running at such a tempo not only isn't possible, it isn't desirable.
"You're in throwing mode every single time (in the two-minute drill)," he
said. "If you're in running mode, it usually involves some checks being made
because of the different schemes and blocking assignments. It gets a little
"In 1999 our running game wasn't as diverse. Offensively and defensively
things evolve over four years. We're trying to do more in the running game.
Yeah, we were faster paced then, but the running game wasn't as involved as
it is now."
Clemson Offensive Stats Under
Year Nat. Rk Carries Yds Ydspg
1999 #44 463 1727 157.0
2000 #10 557 2600 236.36
2001 #33 463 2027 184.27
2002 #76 254 921 131.57
Year Nat. Rk Att Cmp Yds Ydspgm
1999 #31 367 227 2713 246.6
2000 #63 296 159 2311 210.1
2001 #48 366 210 2609 237.2
2002 #56 237 145 1564 223.4
Year Nat. Rk Plays Yds Ydspgm
1999 #36 830 4440 403.64
2000 #10 853 4911 446.45
2001 #31 829 4636 421.45
2002 #82 491 2485 355.00
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.