Ball and Daniels Make Dangerous Duo

Forget about Clemson's 39-3 win in Atlanta last year. It's a new year, and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets present a whole host of new problems to deal with. All-ACC running back P.J. Daniels returns this year, and sophomore quarterback Reggie Ball is no slouch himself.

When the Clemson Tigers take the field Saturday night to take on Georgia Tech, thoughts of last year's 36-point romp in Atlanta will be the furthest thing from the team's mind.

"It gives us just a little bit of confidence, but last year is last year," said senior DT Eric Coleman. "But it's not like we can go back to that game and take anything from it because we've got different players and they've got different players. We've got to be ready for anything they can possibly throw out us."

Now just a few days removed from a thrilling 37-30 double overtime win over Wake Forest, the focus for the Tigers remains clear: the defense must contain Georgia Tech's two big weapons in RB P. J. Daniels and QB Reggie Ball.

Both players looked strong in the Jackets' 28-7 season opening win over Samford last weekend, and both players present different problems for the Tigers' defense.

Daniels rushed for a mind-boggling 1,447 yards last year, averaging 111.3 yards per game, and Ball set freshman records for Georgia Tech in both passing yards (1,996), total offense (2,380).

"From film, and from playing against last year, we know that he's bigger than a guy like Chris Barclay," said Coleman of Daniels. "He's a hard runner and follows his blocking well so we have to make sure we get him down early and make the tackle. We had a little bit of a problem last week with that, so we just have to make sure we wrap up."

For defensive coordinator John Lovett, quarterback Reggie Ball presents an even bigger problem than what he did a year ago as a true freshman.

"We stopped their running game pretty good last year, and their quarterback didn't have a lot of success throwing the ball," said Lovett. "But their quarterback is a lot different than he was a year ago at this time. He's matured, he's throwing the ball better and he's making better decisions."

Ball was instrumental in helping lead the Jackets to a 7-6 record last year, and that came with 10 players being suspended before the start of the season. He also led Tech to an upset win over nationally ranked Auburn and directed the Yellow Jackets to wins in six of their last nine games last year.

And now, with a year of experience under his belt and his overall decision making vastly improved, there's little doubt that Georgia Tech's offense will present much more of a challenge than it did just one year ago.

"Reggie Ball is a great athlete, a dual threat quarterback," said senior end Maurice Fountain. "He can throw the ball exceptionally well or run it. For us, we've got to key on two things, we have to get a good pass rush and also keep a spy on him in case he slips out of the pocket."

There's also concern that the Tigers had a tough double overtime win over Wake Forest, while Georgia Tech seemingly cruised through a 21-point win over Division I-AA Samford.

Daniels rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns and Ball passed for two touchdowns to lead the way for Georgia Tech. And Daniels, the ACC's rushing leader from a year ago, also caught a 25-yard scoring pass from Ball.

"We know what those guys are capable of," said Fountain. "They're a great team and very hungry after playing Samford. They are probably a little more fresher than we are, and they'll try to attack us in every aspect of the game. We have to be ready for anything they can possibly throw at us." Top Stories