Clemson vs. Georgia Football Game Sold Out
The season opening game between Clemson and Georgia at Clemson Memorial Stadium on August 30 is a sellout. Clemson Associate Athletic Director and Ticket Manager Van Hilderbrand made the announcement on August 22nd.
A crowd of over 83,000 is expected for the contest. The largest Clemson vs. Georgia attendance in Death Valley was the 1990 game when 83,127 fans attended a 34-3 Clemson victory. This year's game with Georgia will be the largest crowd for a home opener in Clemson history. The current record for an opening day home game is a crowd of 81,482 for the Central Florida game on September 1, 2001.
The record crowd for a game in Clemson Memorial Stadium is 86,092 set in 1999 when Clemson met Florida State in Bowden Bowl I, the first meeting of father and son head coaches in Division I history. That record will not be threatened at this game or this year. Clemson administrators have reduced the number of general admission seats for games at Clemson Memorial Stadium this year in order to enhance security efforts.
Howards on Both Sides Saturday
Howard will be a prominent name in Clemson Memorial Stadium on Saturday when Clemson meets Georgia. First, the game will be played on Frank Howard Field. It is named in honor of the legendary Clemson coach who led the Tigers to eight conference championships and six bowl games from 1940-69.
Both teams have a Howard on their roster, brothers J.J. Howard of Clemson and Marcus Howard of Georgia. J.J. Howard is a starting defensive end for the Tigers and a graduate student who will be looking to make his first college start in the Georgia game. He has played 37 consecutive games as a reserve and special teams player, but is ready to move into a starting role this year. He has been one of Clemson's top defensive players in the preseason. He had 34 tackles, including four tackles for loss in 13 games and 269 snaps last year.
Marcus Howard, who was recruited by Clemson, is a linebacker who comes to Georgia this year with outstanding credentials. The first-year freshman was the Class AA Defensive Player of the Year in South Carolina a year ago when he had 89 tackles, three interceptions and nine tackles for loss. He also gained nearly 1000 yards as a running back. It is not known at this time whether or not Marcus Howard will red-shirt this year, but he is expected to be at Death Valley on Saturday. Both Howards played at Hanahan High School for Jeff Cruce, a former Clemson offensive lineman who was a member of Clemson's National Championship team of 1981.
It is the first time brothers have been on opposing sidelines n Death Valley since 1980 when Mark Richardson played for Clemson and brother John played for North Carolina. They also faced each other in the 1981 game in Chapel Hill. John was a senior in 1981 and Mark a junior. Both now work for the Carolina Panthers under their father, owner Jerry Richardson.
This has happened in other sports at Clemson. As recently as last spring, Colin Mahoney played for Clemson and Ryan Mahoney played for South Carolina on the baseball diamond. In 1996-97 Clemson golfer Jonathan Byrd, and his brother, Jordan Byrd, who played for Furman, competed against each other in the same golf tournaments. Jonathan is now on the PGA Tour.
Clemson vs. Georgia Series
* Georgia holds a 40-17-4 advantage in the series that dates to the 1897 season. Georgia won that first meeting 24-0 in Athens in the season opener that year. It was the fourth game in Clemson history and the first time Clemson played a game outside the state of South Carolina. Georgia's football history dates to 1892 and that first meeting with Clemson was the 25th in Bulldog history.
* Georgia holds a 26-7-1 advantage in the series in games played at Georgia, including a 20-2 lead in games played at Sanford Stadium.
* Georgia has a 7-6-2 lead in games played in Clemson Memorial Stadium, one of just three opposing schools with a winning record over the Tigers in Death Valley, given a minimum of three games played. The others are Florida State (7-0) and Auburn (4-2). Obviously, a win by the Tigers will get them back to .500 against the Bulldogs in games played in Death Valley. Georgia has the most wins in Death Valley among non-ACC teams.
* Georgia won the first three games of the series, all in Athens between 1897 and 1899. Clemson's first win was a 39-5 triumph in Athens in 1900 behind head coach John Heisman. The victory gave Heisman a 4-0 record to open his first season. Heisman was a perfect 4-0 against Georgia as Clemson coach. Clemson actually won seven games in a row in the series between 1900-06.
* Clemson won at Georgia in 1914 by a 35-13 count and then did not post a win in Athens again until 1977 when Charley Pell led the Tigers to victory 7-6.
* The two teams were 8-8-1 against each other from 1897-1914, then Georgia went on a 21-1-2 run in the series between 1915-73. Clemson's only win during that time was a 26-7 win in 1955. Clemson broke an eight-game losing streak in 1974 with a 28-24 win at Death Valley.
* The two teams tied in a 1963 game played in Death Valley, 7-7. That game is noteworthy because it was played in a hailstorm, an event that delayed the game for 20 minutes. The temperature at kickoff was 83 degrees, but it dropped to 57 degrees just before intermission.
* The two teams split 11 games between 1977-87. The 11 games were separated by 12 total points as Georgia outscored Clemson 171-159 in those 12 games. When Danny Ford and Vince Dooley coached against each other nine times in that period the aggregate score was 153 for Georgia and 152 for Clemson. Ford and Dooley were 4-4-1 against each other in that time span.
* Georgia has now won the last four meetings, in 1991, 1994, 1995 and 2002. The last two meetings, although separated by seven years, were classics. The 1995 contest was a 19-17 Georgia win at Death Valley. Both teams went on to bowl games that year. Torin Kirtsey led Georgia with 38 carries for 195 yards in that game. It is the second most carries ever in a game against Clemson. Last year Georgia won 31-28. Clemson had a 46- yard field goal attempt to tie the game with a minute left, but Aaron Hunt's attempt was just short. Clemson held the Bulldogs to 203 yards of total offense in the game, a season low for the 13-1 Bulldogs of 2002.
* Clemson last defeated Georgia in 1990 by a 34-3 score under first-year head coach Ken Hatfield. Clemson's defense, led by future pros Levon Kirkland, Ed McDaniel, Brentson Buckner, Chester McGlockton and Robert O'Neal, held the Bulldogs out of the endzone all day.
Tigers from Georgia
Georgia has been a top recruiting area for Clemson for many years. The school is just 20 miles from the Georgia/South Carolina state line and, the distance between the Clemson campus and the Georgia campus is just about an 80-minute drive.
Clemson's National Championship team of 1981 had 22 players from the state of Georgia and 23 from South Carolina. Recent Clemson All-Americans who came to Tigertown from the state of Georgia are Robert Carswell, Keith Adams (now with the Philadelphia Eagles), and Chris Gardocki (now with the Cleveland Browns). Carswell and Gardocki were from Stone Mountain, while Adams was from College Park. Nick Eason, Clemson's only first-team All-ACC player last year, is now with the Denver Broncos and is from Lyons, GA.
This year is no exception when it comes to finding many Georgia natives on the Clemson roster. In fact, there are 23 players, four more than last year, including 22 currently on scholarship. Seven of the players are starters (including punter Cole Chason) and seven more are second team players. Fourteen of the players are freshmen. This year's list of Tigers from Georgia includes starting offensive tackle Nathan Bennett, starting punter Cole Chason, starting linebacker Leroy Hill, starting offensive guard Cedric Johnson, starting center Tommy Sharpe, starting defensive end Khlaleed Vaughn and starting quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.
Four Players Return/Added to Roster
While many teams are losing players during the preseason, Clemson has been adding to its roster. Since the end of spring practice, four players who did not figure to be with the program are now on the active roster for 2003.
Steven Jackson is a second-team fullback who has transferred from East Tennessee State. That program is dropping the sport at the end of this season, so the NCAA ruled he could play for Clemson immediately. He was a member of the All- Southern Conference rookie team last year as a defensive lineman.
Eric Sampson was suspended at the end of last season for a violation of team rules related to academics. He did not participate in the spring and it was not known if he would return. But he is back on the squad and is currently the second team WHIP linebacker. He had 79 tackles to rank fourth on the team and started all 12 regular season games.
Ben Hall was the starting tight end last year, but over the second semester did not go through spring practice and intended to transfer to another school. But, he reconsidered and is now back on the team. He caught a touchdown pass in the Tangerine Bowl and was a freshman All-American two years ago.
Finally, Roscoe Crosby is eligible to play this year. The red-shirt sophomore did not play last year after he withdrew from school for medical reasons. He received a medical waiver from the ACC and returned to the team on August 18. He has practiced since then, but will have very limited hitting opportunities prior to the Georgia game. He was a USA Today All-American in high school and started four games for the Tigers in 2001 when he had 27 catches for 465 yards. He was a second round draft choice by the Kansas City Royals out of high school and is still with the Royals organization in the offseason.
Clemson Depth Chart Breakdown
Clemson has a balanced depth chart from a class standpoint. A look to the 22 starters shows that there are eight seniors, seven juniors, six sophomores and one freshman listed as first team players heading into the week of the Georgia game. The only freshman on the first team is offensive guard Nathan Bennett.
The second team is made up of eight freshmen, five sophomores, eight juniors and one senior. Of the 22 starters listed for the Georgia game, 11 started in the bowl game at the end of last season against Texas Tech. However, just seven started in last year's game at Georgia.
The two-deep includes a pair of first-year freshmen on second team offensive line slots. Brandon Pilgrim is a first-year freshman listed second team behind Cedric Johnson at left guard, while Marion Dukes is a first-year freshman listed behind Gregory Walker at right tackle. Pilgrim is from Parkview High in Lilburn, GA, while Dukes is from Pickens High in Pickens, South Carolina.
Whitehurst Efficiency Passer
Charlie Whitehurst, a sophomore from Duluth, GA, will be Clemson's starting quarterback in the season opener against Georgia. It marks the first time since 1995 that Clemson has started a sophomore in the opening game. That year sophomore Nealon Greene called the signals in the opener against Western Carolina.
Whitehurst started the last five games of 2002 and set 22 records in the process. Granted, 13 of the records were freshman marks, but he did have some impressive performances. He threw for an ACC high 420 yards in his first start at Duke and led the Tigers to a 34- 31 victory. He threw for four touchdown passes the next week in a win at North Carolina, then led the Tigers to victory over South Carolina by completing 27-38 passes in a 27-20 Clemson win.
For the season, Whitehurst completed 123-214 passes for 1554 yards and 10 touchdowns. He threw six interceptions and had an efficiency rating of 128.3. He had at last 250 yards of total offense in four of his five starts.
Whitehurst is the son of former Green Bay Packers quarterback David Whitehurst. His sister Carrie will be a freshman on the Clemson women's basketball team this year.
Clemson vs. Georgia 1977-87
The Clemson vs. Georgia series reached its high point during the 11 games played between 1977-87. The two teams were 5-5-1 against each other during that period and nine of the 11 contests were decided by seven points or less. During that time, Georgia scored 171 points and Clemson scored 159 so there were just 12 total points difference between the two teams over an 11-game period. In the nine games involving Vince Dooley and Danny Ford as head coaches the difference was just one point (153 for Georgia and 152 for Clemson). The average margin of victory for the winner was just 4.7 points per game during those 11 years. The teams were fairly even in other categories also. Clemson averaged 311 yards per game during that period against Georgia and the Bulldogs averaged 286.3. Clemson had 11 more first downs in the 11 games combined.
Leake Named to Butkus Watch List
Clemson linebacker John Leake has been named to the list of preseason Butkus Award candidates as announced by the Butkus Award committee. Leake is a senior from Plano, TX in his third season as a starting linebacker for the Tigers. The Award is named after all-time great college and pro linebacker Dick Butkus. The award will be presented to the nation's top linebacker on December 12, 2003 in Orlando. Leake was one of nine ACC players named to the preseason list. The others are Darryl Blackstock and Ahmad Brooks of Virginia, Michael Bouleware and Kendyll Pope of Florida State, Daryl Smith and Keyron Fox of Georgia Tech, Ryan Fowler of Duke and Joe Leon of Maryland.
Leake has 312 career tackles, including 169 in 2002 when he ranked fourth in the nation. His tackle total was fifth best in school history for a single season. A starter in 25 consecutive games entering the Georgia game on August 30, he is tied for 13th in Clemson history in career tackles entering this season. He reached double figures in tackles in 11 of the 13 games a year ago.
Leake is one of three Clemson players on preseason award lists for 2003. Earlier, Justin Miller was named as a preseason candidate for the Jim Thorpe Award, which is given to the top defensive back in the nation, and Aaron Hunt was named to the Lou Groza Award list, which is given to the nation's top placekicker.
Phillips to Broadcast 400th Game
Jim Phillips, the voice of Clemson athletics since 1968, will broadcast his 400 th Clemson football game when the Tigers taken on Georgia on August 30. Phillips first broadcast of a Clemson sporting event was on September 21, 1968, a 20-20 tie against Wake Forest in a game played in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Phillips has missed just a few games in his career. The majority of the missed games have been the result of national radio contracts with bowls that did not allow local broadcasts in the 1970's and 1980's.
Phillips has a long resume of accomplishments. He broadcast his 1000th Clemson men's basketball game at the 2002 ACC Tournament. He is a member of the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame and is the dean of all ACC broadcasters in any sport. In addition to his work with Clemson football and men's basketball, he also broadcasts over 40 baseball games a year and as many as women's basketball games as will fit his schedule. He has done nearly 3000 Clemson athletic events over the years.
Bowden 10th among Winningest Active Coaches
Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden is 10th among winningest active Division I head coaches. According to NCAA policy, coaches must have been a head coach for five years to appear on the list. Bowden is in his seventh year as head coach, two at Tulane and his fifth season at Clemson. He is currently just ahead of South Carolina Head Coach Lou Holtz, who has a .6616 winning percentage compared to Bowden's .6620.
It is interesting to note that Bowdens hold down two of the top 10 positions on the list. Tommy's father, Bobby Bowden of Florida State who will be here on November 8 with the Seminoles, is ranked third with a .773 winning percentage. Tommy Bowden has taken the Tigers to a bowl game each of his first four years, the first coach in Clemson history to do that and just the third in ACC history. The only other coaches to achieve that distinction are Lou Holtz (NC State 1973-76) and Bobby Ross (Maryland 1983-86). No coach in ACC history has taken a team to a bowl game each of his first five years with a program. Bowden obviously could be the first to do it this year. Overall, Bowden has 29 wins in his first four years, seventh in ACC history in coaching victories over the first four years of a tenure.
Musburger Returns to Death Valley
ABC will broadcast the Clemson vs. Georgia game to over 40 percent of the nation. It will be shown on the Eastern seaboard (including New York City) with the exception of the state of Pennsylvania, which is Big Ten country and will get the Illinois vs. Missouri game. Clemson was on ABC once last year and was victorious by a 31-23 score against Wake Forest. Clemson is 8-2 under Tommy Bowden in games televised by ABC, including his first victory as a Clemson coach, a 33-14 win over Virginia in 1999.
Providing the play by play of Saturday's game will be Brent Musburger. This will be the fifth time Musburger has done a game from Death Valley, his second as a commentator for ABC. He did the 1985 and 1987 Clemson vs. Georgia games, and the 1988 Florida State game for CBS, and also did the 1997 North Carolina game for ABC. He also made a trip to Clemson for the 1998 men's basketball game against Georgia Tech, Greg Buckner's Senior Night game, which also turned out to be Rick Barnes final game at Clemson.
Clemson Preseason Honors 2003
Five different 2003 Clemson players are ranked among the top 20 players in the nation at their respective positions according to various preseason publications. The list includes wide receivers Derrick Hamilton and Kevin Youngblood, linebacker John Leake, placekicker Aaron Hunt and cornerback Justin Miller.
The presence of Hamilton and Youngblood, along with returning starter and All-America track athlete Airese Currie, and red-shirt freshman Kelvin Grant, is a major reason Clemson's receiving corps is ranked among the best in the nation. That list also does not include Roscoe Crosby, who had 27 catches in 2001 and just joined the team in mid-August.
Miller is ranked as the number-two cornerback in the nation by Sporting News and the number-four defensive back in the nation by collegefootballnews.com. That internet site also selects Miller as a firstteam All-American and as the number-one rising star among defensive backs nationally. Collegefootballnews.com also ranks Miller as the 32nd best college football player in the nation regardless of position. He is on the Thorpe Award preseason list.
Miller, a native of Owensboro, KY, was a unanimous freshman All-American last year after leading the ACC and ranking fifth in the nation with eight interceptions. He tied the Clemson freshman record for passes defensed with 17 and the overall record for interceptions in a season, records set by Robert O'Neal in 1989. Miller also had 61 tackles and caused two fumbles during his freshman campaign. He led the ACC in interceptions and kickoff return average (35.1). His kickoff return average was the third highest in ACC history.
John Leake is ranked as the #17 outside linebacker in the nation by Lindy's and is 18th by Sporting News. Collegefootballnews.com ranks Leake 22nd among all linebackers nationally. The Sporting News also says that Leake is the hardest hitting linebacker in the ACC. He is on the Butkus Award preseason list.
Hamilton is ranked #16 nationally among wide receivers by Sporting News, while Youngblood is ranked 19th among receivers according to Lindy's. Athlon ranks Clemson's receiving corps fourth in the nation, while collegefootballnews.com lists it fifth best, The Sporting News ranks it eighth and Lindy's sees it as the 10th best group of receivers in the country.
Aaron Hunt is ranked s the 15th best placekicker in the nation by Sporting News, while collegefootballnews.com ranks Hunt 14th among all punters and placekickers in the nation. Charlie Whitehurst is listed as the number-six rising star among quarterbacks nationally. He is on the Lou Groza preseason list. He was a semifinalist for that honor last year.
Georgia is ranked ninth by USA Today and 11th by Associated Press in the two major preseason polls for 2003. The Bulldogs of Head Coach Mark Richt are coming off a 13-1 season and a number-three final ranking in both polls. They won the SEC Championship game in December, giving Georgia its first conference championship since 1982. Georgia returns some outstanding players on offense, defense and special teams off that 2002 team that defeated Florida State in the Sugar Bowl. Quarterback David Greene leads the offense. The junior from Snellville, GA completed 218 of 379 passes for 2924 yards and 22 touchdowns against just eight interceptions last season. He led Georgia to five fourth quarter comeback victories in 2002, including the 31-28 win over Clemson. Twice he tied the school record for touchdown passes in a game with four and his passing efficiency rating of 137.3 was best in the SEC and 18 th in the nation.
One of Georgia's top all-purpose players is wide receiver Fred Gibson. The junior from Waycross, GA has been named to many preseason All-America teams. He had 43 catches for 758 yards and four scores last year, a 17.6 average. He had a 24.2 average on 19 kickoff returns, including a 91 yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Tigers last year. He has seven 100-yard receiving games in his career, second in Georgia history.
The Georgia defense is anchored by junior defensive end David Pollack. Georgia was number-one in the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss and Pollack led the team in both areas with 14 sacks (7th best in the nation) and 23.5 tackles for loss. He also had seven passes broken up a very high figure for a defensive end. His pass deflection and interception against South Carolina was one of the top defensive plays of the year in college football.
Billy Bennett leads the Georgia special teams as the place kicker. Last year he converted all 52 of his extra point attempts and made 26-33 field goals. He converted 1-14 field goal attempts from the 40-49, many in clutch situations. His 130 kick scoring points last year broke the previous record of 94 set by Kevin Butler in 1981. Butler was recently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame so, Bennett is playing at quite a pace. He kicked game winners inside the last six minutes against Clemson, Alabama and Tennessee last year.
Both Coaches Have Ties to Florida State
Both head coaches in this Saturday's game have connections to Florida State, but neither played for the Seminoles. Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden is the son of Florida State Head Coach Bobby Bowden and served as an assistant for the sports second winningest Division I coach in 1978-79, 1981-82. He also played for his father at West Virginia in 1973-75.
Georgia Coach Mark Richt, a graduate of the University of Miami, served as a graduate assistant coach at Florida State from 1985- 86, was a volunteer coach in 1987-88 and served as offensive coordinator from 1994-00. In fact, Richt replaced current Clemson offensive coordinator Brad Scott, as Florida State's offensive coordinator when Scott left FSU to become the head coach at South Carolina. Scott was the offensive coordinator of Florida State's 1993 National Championship team and Richt was the coordinator of the Seminoles 1999 National Championship team.
Richt started and ended last year with victories over Bowdens. He defeated the Tigers in the opener 31-28, and downed Bobby Bowden and Florida State in the Sugar Bowl, 26-13.
Clemson has Eight Graduates on Roster
The 2003 Clemson team has already tied a school record and the kickoff of the season opener has not even taken place. This year's team has eight graduates on its roster, tying the Clemson record set by last year's team. Now in his fifth year as Clemson head coach, Tommy Bowden has had 27 players earn degrees before the end of their eligibility, more than any other five-year period in Clemson history.
The current list includes two players, Khaleed Vaughn and William Henry, who have actually had their degrees for over a year. They are playing their final two seasons as graduate students. The current list is not filled with walk-ons. Seven of the eight players are starters, and wide receiver Tony Elliott can be a starter when Clemson goes to a four wide receiver lineup. He was among the team leaders in yards per catch last year.
All eight graduate student-athletes on the Clemson roster this year are African American. Each year the NCAA issues a graduation rate report that breaks statistics down by race. In this year's report, the 1996-97 academic year was used in its study. Clemson had a perfect 9- 9 in African American graduation rate from that class and an 82.4 percent overall.
Clemson in Openers
Clemson has won 15 of its last 19 season openers. The only opening losses since 1983 took place in 1986 at Clemson when Virginia Tech and Coach Bill Dooley upset the Tigers, 20-14, at North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1996, in 1999 at home against Marshall, Tommy Bowden's first game as Clemson head coach, and last year at Georgia. That 1986 game with Virginia Tech was a battle of eventual bowl teams, as the Tigers ended the year 8-2-2 and ranked 17th in the nation, while Virginia Tech was 9-2-1 and ranked 20th in the final poll. The 1999 13-10 loss to Marshall was also a battle of bowl teams. Clemson 2-2 under Tommy Bowden in its first game of the season. As stated above, he has faced a difficult opening game schedule. Georgia was a top 10 team last year and Marshall, his first game as Clemson coach, ended the 1999 season with a 13-0 record and ranked 10th in the nation.
The Tigers are 79-20-8 (.781), regardless of site, in their first game of the season in its previous 107 seasons. Even though this is the 108th season of Clemson football, Clemson has had just 102 home openers in its history because five seasons Clemson did not play a game at home. In the 102 home openers Clemson has a 78-16-8 record against 29 different opponents.
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