CLEMSON - Instead of being phased out, Clemson quarterback Brandon Streeter is in the middle of a re-birth.
Streeter broke his own Clemson single-game passing record Saturday to lead Clemson (1-1 overall, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) to a 33-14 win over No. 19 Virginia (1-1, 1-1) in front of 65,000 at Death Valley.
Not bad for an old guy who, by all reports, was headed out to pasture when Tommy Bowden's new offense came to Clemson. Instead, he's throwing the ball down field, pumping his fist and handing out high fives.
"I feel more and more comfortable and more and more confident with this offense," said Streeter, who completed 24 of 32 passes for 342 yards, breaking the record of 329 yards he set last season against N.C. State. "I really can't remember having so much fun. It was so fun. This offense, in combination with scoring points and the victory, it's an unbelievable feeling that we all needed really bad and it's exciting."
Clemson jumped out to a 14-0 lead after two possessions and Virginia's main weapon, running back Thomas Jones, was never a factor.
"The key was to stop their running game because Jones had gained over a hundred yards against us in the past two games," said Bowden. "He managed to get some yards on us, but he never really did break a long one on us."
Jones rushed for 97 yards on 23 carries. He rushed the ball on seven of Virginia's first eleven plays, but Clemson's offense quickly took him out of Virginia's game plan.
"We just did not execute," said Virginia coach George Welsh. "We just had one of those days. A lot of this game is in the head, and we were just not there."
Virginia had problems on its first drive. Braxton Williams blindsided quarterback Dan Ellis. Ellis fumbled and Clemson's Jason Holloman recovered at the Virginia 43.
"They are very fast," said Welsh. "They speed of the game - we just weren't ready for that. We never stopped them."
Clemson scored on an 18-yard pass from Streeter to Brian Wofford six plays after the fumble.
Virginia was stopped six plays into its next drive and punted. Clemson took the ball and drove the ball 79 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown. Streeter threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Pat Cyrgalis to give Clemson a 14-0 lead. Welsh threw his game plan in the trash.
The Cavaliers started throwing the ball, but Streeter threw it better. Streeter completed 17 of 23 passes for 232 yards in the first half. Streeter led Clemson to two more scores before the end of the first half - two field goals (33, 21) by Tony Lazzara.
After the first two Virginia drives, Jones rushed for just 32 yards in the first half. Ellis competed just six passes for 102 yards in the first half. Meanwhile, Wofford caught six passes for 101 yards in the first half for Clemson.
"If we weren't throwing and catching we would have had problems," said Bowden. "They key for the pace being effective is to stay on the field. This week we made plays and kept their defense on the field. We didn't do that last week against Marshall."
Travis Zachary returned to Clemson's lineup after serving his one-game suspension imposed during the spring. He rushed for 46 yards and a touchdown with 12:09 left in the third quarter to give Clemson a 27-0 lead.
Javis Austin, who rushed for 41 yards, added a touchdown on Clemson's next possession to give Clemson a 33-0 lead before Virginia scored two touchdowns. Kevin Coffey caught a 1-yard pass from Ellis with 4:28 left in the third quarter and Jones scored on a 3-yard run with 11:54 left in the game.
"Part of it last week was that we were a little tentative and we weren't real comfortable with the new offense," said Streeter. "It was our first game. After last week we knew what we could do and we got excited about our first ACC game."