* First off, a big thank you to the hundreds of people that turned out for our broadcast Saturday afternoon at Jocks & Jills in Midtown Atlanta. Clemson fans literally took over the establishment starting around 1:30 and running right up until kickoff. A special thanks also to Mickey Plyler (The Overdrive 3-5 PM Weekdays on WCCP) and Will Merritt (Color Analyst and former Tiger offensive lineman) for stopping by and sharing their thoughts and analysis as well.
* We had heard rumors of the possibility of purple jerseys at various points throughout last week, and it was even reported on our Insider message board a few hours before kickoff. Me personally, I love the purple...but the orange numbers? That's going to have to grow on me, and I'm sure it will. Honestly, if this team could play at that level every week, I wouldn't care if they came out wearing all brown against Maryland.
* It looks as though Duane Coleman is finally starting to show us some of the big play capability that he was noted for at Naples High School during his senior season when he was the Sunshine Network's 5-A State Player of the Year. Coleman has scored a touchdown in each of the last three games, with his last two scores coming from 25-yards or further out. To me, he should be the running back that starts in College Park in two weeks. No knock on Kyle Browning, mind you, but Coleman really is starting to look like the complete package at running back.
* You had to figure that if Tramaine Billie was going to avoid a redshirt this season, he would have had to play Saturday evening in Atlanta- and he did. Billie is such an athlete that it just makes sense to get him in there during his freshman year. I know a lot of people are already drawing comparisons with John Leake during his freshman year when he basically only saw the field on special teams, but Billie could start seeing more time on the field in the secondary as the season goes on.
* Aaron Hunt missed an extra point for the second consecutive week. I still don't believe that's cause for yanking him out of the game, especially when he drilled his only field goal attempt of the evening. Hunt is seemingly a work in progress this year, but he's made his last two kicks. Let's see how he responds again next week.
* How much of a difference has wide receivers' Dabo Swinney made this year? I think it's immeasurable. You look at the statistics in the conference and you'll find three Clemson wide outs in the top 10 in both receptions and receiving yards. Once again, this unit was the difference maker in Saturday's game.
* Anybody see the score of the Middle Tennessee State game against 23rd ranked Missouri? The Tigers held off the Blue Raiders 41-40 in overtime. MTSU QB Andrico Hines completed 19-of-31 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown, and the Blue Raiders once again went over 180 yards on the ground. Maybe that wasn't too bad of a of a team that ventured into Death Valley last Saturday?
* Just as we said at the beginning of the season, we fully expect Charlie Whitehurst to break all sorts of offensive records this season- and it's already starting to happen. He already ranks first in Clemson history in completion percentage (61.1%) and passing efficiency (138.9). If the last two games are any indication, he could be well on his way in shattering 10-to-15 single season records before the 2003 season is complete.
* The off week comes at a good time for a number of reasons. The team is soothing with confidence, yet at the same time they know that a very dangerous Maryland team lurks in the horizon. The Terps have proved victorious in each of the last two seasons and everyone knows that they'll have to be on top of their game if they plan on pulling the upset. Maryland destroyed West Virginia this weekend, 34-7. Bruce Perry appears to be regaining his effectiveness after seeing only limited action in his first two games of the season. Against the Mountaineers, he rushed 14 times for 79 yards and a touchdown. Head coach Ralph Friedgen and company have one more warm up game against Eastern Michigan this weekend before taking on the Tigers on October 4th.
* I'm tired of hearing about how N.C. State, Maryland, and Virginia have all surpassed Clemson on the gridiron in recent years, so here's a different thought on the Tigers' upcoming contests in October. While the schedule looks to be extremely tough on paper, you have to believe that from a mental standpoint, it sets up quite nicely for the Tigers.
Even after an impressive performance this past weekend in Atlanta, there shouldn't be any problems with lack of concentration, lack of focus, or overconfidence headed into a road contest against a team that has beaten Clemson soundly in each of the past two seasons. Hopefully, that translates into a team that is clearly focused on the task at hand on October 4th and in the following weeks.
* An interesting note involving Georgia Tech defensive coordinator John Tenuta. Tenuta held the same position on UNC head coach John Bunting's staff back in 2001 when the Heels stomped the Tigers in Death Valley. A frustrated Woody Dantzler was unable to mount any sort of threat as Tenuta's defense stuck it to the Tigers all afternoon long. Isn't it ironic that Saturday night's score was almost identical to that very game? (2001: a 38-3 win, 2003: a 39-3 loss)
* Bobby Dodd Stadium looks a lot bigger with the addition of an upper deck around the north endzone. The only problem was that most of the new seating was occupied by Clemson fans Saturday night. Saturday evening was one of the more impressive displays of Tiger fans hitting the road in recent memory.
* My hat goes off to the entire offensive line for their performance Saturday evening. With all of the talk about the incredible success of the Clemson offense during the last two weeks, the big guys in the trenches are the ones that are usually forgotten. Nathan Bennett, Cedric Johnson, William Henry, Roman Fry, Marion Dukes, Greg Walker, Dustin Fry, Tommy Sharpe, and everyone else that's seen the field- you guys have really stepped up your play since late August.
* The Tigers will have Monday off before hitting the practice fields on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week in preparation for Maryland on October 4th.
* Finally, Toure Francis left the game with an ankle injury in the second half Saturday night. The Columbia native has really solidified himself at the right cornerback position this year and he continued his strong play against Georgia Tech by providing sound coverage and by making several hard hits on Tech's wide receivers coming across the middle of the field. While the injury isn't believed to be serious, it will be extremely important to get him back to 100% before the trip up to Maryland.
Monday Morning Quarterback
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