* Clemson holds a 27-23-2 advantage in the series with Maryland. The first game of the series was played in 1952, one year before both teams became charter members of the ACC. Maryland won each of the first four games in the series.
* Maryland has won each of the last three games, two in College Park and one at Clemson, but the Tigers have won eight of the last 11. Clemson had won eight in a row and 13 of 14 prior to Ralph Friedgen's return to his alma mater.
* Clemson held Maryland to just 12 total points in winning every game between 1993-98. Clemson recorded four shutouts, including three in a row during that time period. During Clemson's eight-game winning streak in the series from 1993-2000, Clemson held Maryland to an average of 7.0 points per game, while scoring 26.8 points per game themselves.
* In 2002, Maryland defeated Clemson in Death Valley, its first win at Memorial Stadium since 1985. Clemson has won eight of the last nine between the two teams in Death Valley. Clemson has a 15-11 lead in the series in games played at Clemson and the two schools are 11-11-1 in College Park.
* Saturday's game will be a meeting of two of the traditional powerhouses of the ACC. Both Clemson and Maryland have been in the ACC since its inception in the fall of 1953. Both teams played their first ACC game against each other on October 3, 1953 at Clemson, a 20-0 Maryland victory.
* Clemson and Maryland have both won the National Championship, the Terps during that first ACC season in 1953, and Clemson in 1981. Clemson has the most ACC championships with 13, while Maryland is third with nine.
* The two teams played at the end of the season in most years between 1978-88 and the game usually decided the ACC championship. That was certainly the case in 1978 when the Tigers won 28-24 at College Park, clinching an undefeated season in the league over Maryland. It was 11th ranked Maryland's only league loss that season.
* Clemson also clinched the ACC championship with a November victory or tie over Maryland in 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987 and 1988. Maryland clinched the ACC Championship in 2001 with a 37-20 victory over Clemson in College Park. The Terps also clinched the title in 1985 with a victory in Death Valley.
* Clemson has a history of great return performances against Maryland over the years. In 2001, Derrick Hamilton had a 100 yard kickoff return for a score in a game in College Park. Darnell Stephens had an 89 yard punt return for a score against the Terps in Death Valley in 1991, one year after Doug Thomas had a 98-yard kickoff return against Maryland in Baltimore. The greatest return game in ACC history was recorded by Clemson's Don Kelley against Maryland in 1970. he had 224 total return yards on punt and interception returns in that game.
* Maryland is looking for its first four-game winning streak in the series since the 1972-77 era when the Terps won six in a row.
* This is the first time since 1998 that neither team enters the game with a winning record. That year Clemson was 1-4 and Maryland was 2-3 entering the contest that Clemson won 23-0.
Clemson Veterans versus Maryland
Cole Chason (P) -- Punted six times for a 36.2-yard average in 2003.
Duane Coleman (TB) -- Ran 11 times for 36 yards last season.
Eric Coleman (DT) - Had two tackles and two quarterback pressures in last year's game. Made three tackles in 2002.
Airese Currie (WR) -- Caught two passes for seven yards last year. Also had two grabs for nine yards in 2002. Caught two passes for 23 yards in 2001.
Maurice Fountain (DE) -- Had two tackles and two quarterback pressures last year. Made two tackles in 2002 and one in the 2001 game.
Jamaal Fudge (ROV) -- Had seven total tackles and two tackles for loss in last year's game. Made two tackles in 10 snaps in 2002.
Leroy Hill (LB) -- Had two tackles for loss,12 total tackles, and a fumble recovery last season. Had eight tackles two other career games against Maryland.
Tye Hill (CB) -- Made one pass break up and had two tackles in 2003.
Cedric Johnson (OG) -- Had a film grade of 92 percent last season.
Justin Miller (CB) -- Had six tackles including a tackle for loss and a pass break up last season. Had five tackles, two interceptions, and a pass break up in 2002 and was named ACC Defensive Back of the Week.
Chip Myrick (OG) -- Had a film grade of 89 percent in last year's game.
Travis Pugh (FS) -- Had eight tackles and a pass break up last year.
Charlie Whitehurst (QB) -- Has an 0-2 record as a starter against Marylnad and has completed 34-71 passes for 450 yards and a touchdown in two games.
Last Season: Maryland 21, Clemson 7
At College Park, MD
For the third consecutive year under Head Coach Ralph Friedgen, Maryland defeated Clemson, this time by a score of 21-7. It marked the first time the Terrapins have won three in a row over the Tigers since 1975-77. Scott McBrien threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns to lead a balanced Maryland attack. The Terrapins rushed for 159 yards, compared to just 10 for the Tigers.
Maryland opened the scoring mid-way through the first quarter. Following a missed field goal attempt by Tiger kicker Aaron Hunt, Maryland marched 68 yards on 12 plays before Steve Suter was the recipient of a 25-yard touchdown pass from McBrien.
The Terrapins extended the lead to 14-0 on the fourth play of the second quarter. This time, McBrien found Rich Parson on a 10-yard touchdown pass.
Following a series of punts between the two teams, Clemson found itself on the scoreboard. Derrick Hamilton caught a pass on the sideline from Charlie Whitehurst, then weaved his way for a 70-yard touchdown. The reception was the longest of Hamilton's career.
The half ended as Terrapin kicker Nick Novak missed a 48-yard field goal. Maryland led 14-7 at halftime. Clemson had -14 rushing yards in the half.
Clemson threatened on its opening possession of the second half. Duane Coleman had a 15-yard carry to move the Tigers into Maryland territory. However, Chad Jasmin was stopped short on fourth-and-two and Maryland took over. The Terrapins tacked on the final touchdown in the late portion of the third quarter. Following a punt by Clemson's Cole Chason, McBrien struck one more time through the air. He found Derrick Fenner for a 69-yard touchdown down the sideline. Clemson cornerback Tye Hill thought Fenner had gone out of bounds and then came back in to the field of play. Each of McBrien's touchdown passes occurred in third-and-long situations.
Clemson put together another scoring threat late in the third and into the fourth quarter. Whitehurst hooked up with Tony Elliott on a 21-yard completion, but his fourth down incompletion to Cliff Harrell halted the drive.
Whitehurst finished 22-45 for 320 yards, the second-highest yardage total in his young career at the time. However, he was sacked six times by the Terrapin defense. Hamilton caught seven passes for 175 yards, the second-highest receiving yardage total in Tiger history. Rod Gardner's 182-yard performance against North Carolina in 2000 is the record. The defense was led by LeRoy Hill, who totaled 12 tackles and two for loss. Vontrell Jamison had a 15-yard sack for the Tigers, while J.J. Howard forced a McBrien fumble and had a sack. Jamaal Fudge had seven tackles and two tackles for loss, while Travis Pugh had eight stops and a pass deflection.
Tigers Hope Revenge Trend Continues
Clemson will face Atlantic Coast Conference opposition in each of the next two Saturdays at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Clemson will play host to Maryland on October 23 and then NC State comes to town on October 30. Clemson hopes a recent trend continues over the next two games. In each of the first four conference games involving the Tigers this year, the team that won the game in 2003, lost the meeting in 2004. Clemson lost to Wake Forest last year 45-17, then won the contest against the Demon Deacons this year. Georgia Tech, Florida State and Virginia all gained revenge against the Tigers this year for losses in 2003.
Now Clemson faces Maryland, who defeated the Tigers 21-7 in 2003, and NC State, who downed the Tigers 17-15 last year.
Clemson-NC State Game To Kickoff at Noon
The Clemson-NC State game on October 30 has been set for a noon kickoff. The game will be televised by espn2.
Clemson Defense Coming off Record Setting Performance
Clemson's defense established two school record for performance against a Division I-A opponents in its victory over Utah State last Saturday. Clemson allowed the Aggies --20 yards rushing, and the defense recorded 11 quarterback sacks in the 35-6 victory. The --20 yards rushing was the third best rushing defense figure in Clemson history and best against a Division I-A opponent. The only two figures that are better both took place against Furman, a --29 against the Paladins in 1996, and a --21 at Furman in 1941.
The --20 yards rushing by Utah State was the second fewest by a Division I-A team this year. The best rushing defense game in the nation this year is a --24 recorded by Florida State against UAB in September. Thus, a Bowden coached team has the top two rushing defense games in the nation this year. Overall, there have been just seven games this year in which an opponent has held a team to minus yards rushing.
Clemson's 11 sacks were the second best single game figure in Clemson history, trailing the 12 recorded against Furman in the aforementioned 1996 contest. The previous best under Coach Tommy Bowden was eight, recorded on two occasions.
Clemson allowed just 139 yards of total offense for the game, the best total defense by the Tigers since Clemson allowed just 105 against The Citadel in 2000. It was the best against a Division I team since Clemson limited Maryland to 113 yards of total offense in 1996. Clemson almost recorded a shutout in the contest, as the Aggies scored on the last play of the game to make the score 35-6. The last time Clemson shut out a Division I-A opponent was a 23-0 win over Maryland in 1998.
The 139 yards of total defense recorded by the Tigers ranks as the 15th best single game performance this year. The best is an 82-yard total defense effort by Georgia Tech against Maryland two weeks ago. It is interesting to note that each of the top three and five of the top 15 single game total defense performances have been recorded by ACC teams this year.
Clemson's defense has allowed the opposition 4.8 yards per play so far this year, ahead of the 4.9 figure recorded by the 9-4 Tigers of 2003.
Clemson Records 11 Sacks vs. Aggies
As stated above, Clemson had 11 sacks against Utah State, the second best single game total in Clemson history and the best against a Division I opponent. The 11 sacks resulted in 83 lost yards rushing, which was a single game record in terms of yardage lost on quarterback sacks.
Clemson has had at least one sack in all six games this year and has a streak of 10 straight games with at least one sack over two years. The team now has 27 sacks for the year, an average of 4.5 sacks per game. This 2004 team is now ahead of the per game record for the course of a season. That record is 4.18, a figure set by he 1992 Clemson team that had 46 sacks in 11 games. The Clemson record for total sacks in a season is 47, set by Tommy Bowden's 1999 team, who had that figure in 12 games.
Unlike some recent seasons when one or two players dominated the sack totals, this has been a balanced effort in 2004. LeRoy Hill leads the way with six sacks, but 13 different players have at least one sack this year. That was the case against Utah State as eight different players combined for the 11 sacks.
|9-47||at NC State||35-34||10-27-1984|
|9-58||at Wake Forest||24-6||10-27-1990|
Tigers Gain 200 Yards Rushing
Clemson rushed for an even 200 yards in 48 rushes in its victory over Utah State. That was a season high for the Tigers, who had gained less than 100 yards on the ground in each of their losses at Texas A&M, Florida State and Virginia.
Clemson had entered the game with running backs averaging about five yards per rush for the season, but the group had just 86 total carries in the first five games of the year. But, Clemson running backs got 42 carries against Utah State, as Clemson had success moving the chains thanks to the running of Reggie Merriweather and Duane Coleman. And, Clemson never trailed in the contest as the defense continually forced three-and-out possessions. Coleman and Merriweather duo combined for 166 yards in 39 carries and scored three touchdowns.
Merriweather had 84 yards on 18 carries to lead the way, the second highest single game figure of his career, while Coleman had 82 yards on 21 attempts. The junior from Florida also had a 20-yard reception giving him a 100-yard day in terms of yards from scrimmage.
It was no surprise that Clemson gained victory after reaching the 200-yard rushing mark. Under Tommy Bowden, Clemson is 20-1 when it gains at least 200 yards on the ground, including a 17-game winning streak. Clemson's only loss when gaining at least 200 yards on the ground since Bowden has been the head coach took place at Georgia Tech in 1999.
Clemson averages 3.5 yards per rush as a team for the year, but has two players averaging over six yards per carry. Merriweather has a 6.3 average on 39 attempts and a team best three touchdowns, while Kyle Browning has a 7.5 average on 14 attempts.
Collins Posts Career Performance
Michael Collins was Clemson's leading receiver in the win over Utah State with a career high six catches for a career high 64 receiving yards. Not only were they career highs, his numbers exceeded his career totals entering the game. For Collins's first 18 games at Clemson he played 218 snaps on offensive scrimmage plays and had just four receptions for 49 yards. But, he had five catches in the first half against Utah State and six for the game.
Collins came to Clemson in August of 2002 after transferring from Tennessee. He spent the 2001-02 academic year in Knoxville where he practiced with both the basketball and football teams, but he red-shirted in both sports. He did the same at Clemson in 2002-03 due to the NCAA transfer rule. That was two full years of practice without playing in any games.
Patience is obviously a virtue of Collins. "Michael Collins is a true team player," said Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden after the Utah State game. "He plays hard at every practice and every game. He never complains, he just does whatever he can to help the team. It was very rewarding for all of us to see him lead us in receiving against Utah State."
Collins was a PrepStar All-American out of Commerce High School in Commerce, GA. He is from the same hometown that sent Terry Allen to Clemson and Allen is Collins's cousin. He was his team's quarterback as a senior when he rushed for 20 touchdowns and also made 134 tackles as a safety when he led his team to a 13-2 record. He averaged 26.8 points and 11 rebounds per game for Commerce High as a senior on the hard court.
Richardson Starting as First-year Freshman
Clemson starting offensive tackle Barry Richardson graded 82 percent in Clemson's victory over Utah State, the highest coaches film grade by a Clemson offensive tackle this year. The first-year freshman had two knockdown blocks and just one missed assignment for his 44 snaps in that game. Richardson did not allow a sack and now has gone 10 straight quarters without giving up a sack this year. He has played the majority of the snaps at left tackle since the second half of the Florida State game on September 25.
Richardson has now started each of the last two games, the first first-year freshman offensive lineman to start since Stacy Long started against Georgia in 1986. He is on pace to start over the course of this year and if he does, he will be the first first-year freshman offensive lineman in school history to start over the course of the season.
It is unusual for any first-year freshman to serve as a starter over the course of a season, regardless of position. Justin Miller is the last first-year freshman to serve as a starter for the course of a season. The current junior started eight games at cornerback in 2002. Prior to that Robert Carswell started six games at free safety in 1997. Anthony Simmons started 11 games as a first-year freshman linebacker in 1995 But that is it as far as first-year freshman starters for the course of a season over the last 10 years.
Richardson, 6-7 and 350 pounds, came to Clemson from Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, SC where he played for Coach Bob Hayes. The 18-year-old graduated a year early from high school, the first scholarship player to leave high school a year early to come to Clemson. His brother Nate Richardson, is 6-4 and 285 pounds and is a starting tackle at South Carolina State as a red-shirt freshman. Believe it or not, both brothers lived in the same room while growing up.
Note: List does not include special teams players. List is since freshman eligibility restored in 1972.Clemson Schedule ranked Second in the Nation
Clemson's 2004 football schedule is ranked as the sixth most difficult in the nation to this point in the season according to the Sagarin Computer rankings. The Tigers have a schedule ranking of 78.41 so far this season according to the service. Oregon State has the toughest schedule with an 82.12 figure.
Three of the top 10 teams in the nation in terms of schedule difficulty are in the ACC. North Carolina, who recently lost at Utah, is second at 80.76 and Florida State is eighth at 78.24. Another Clemson opponent, Texas A&M, is ranked ninth in schedule difficulty with a 77.51 figure.
Clemson recently finished a three-game stretch in which it played at Texas A&M, at Florida State and at Virginia. All three schools are ranked in the top 20 of the latest AP poll, with Florida State ranked fifth. When Clemson played at Florida State and at Virginia in consecutive games it marked the first time since 1966 that Clemson had played consecutive games on the road against top 10 teams. Clemson's major sports have played a difficult schedule of late. Last year the Clemson men's basketball schedule was ranked as the fourth most difficult in the nation by the Sagarin computer ranking with a 82.04 figure.
Williamson Scores, Records Sack
Clemson defensive end Bobby Williamson pulled off a rare double when he scored a touchdown and had a quarterback sack against Utah State. That is a rare double, in fact, it is just the fourth time it has happed since 1989. Williamson had one of Clemson's near record 11 sacks in the 35-6 victory, and he scored a touchdown when he recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown.
It was the second touchdown of Williamson's career, his first since 2002. A tight end prior to this year, Williamson scored on a touchdown reception against Georgia Tech on a pass from Willie Simmons in a Tiger victory.
You only have to go back to last year to find the last time a Clemson player scored a touchdown and had a sack in the same game, as J.J. Howard did it against Furman in 2003. The only other players to do it in the last 15 years are Chester McGlockton and Terry Jolly. Jolly had an interception return for a score and a sack against Duke in 1999, while McGlockton turned his double on the same play. McGlockton sacked West Virginia quarterback Major Harris, then recovered the ball in the endzone for a touchdown in Clemson's 27-7 Gator Bowl victory over the Mountaineers in 1989.
Technically, Williamson's score goes down as a punt return. He is the first Tiger to score a touchdown on a punt return and record a sack in the same game.
Williamson had been strictly a tight end in his first three years at Clemson. He played 24 games out of 26 possible contests at tight end in 2002 and 2003. In fact, he started 11 of the 13 games last year and had 12 catches for 205 yards, first among Clemson tight ends. He had five receptions at NC State, most by a Clemson tight end in a single game since 1975, a game that was also shown on ESPN's Thursday Night Package.
Maryland enters Saturday's game with some unusual statistics. Three weeks ago the Terps gained 685 yards of total offense in a victory over Duke, the second most total offense yards by any Division I team this year. But, over the last two weeks, Maryland has gained just 82 yards against Georgia Tech and 91 against NC State, the first and third lowest total offense games by a Division I team this year, respectively.
The Terps have beaten Clemson three years in a row, all under head coach Ralph Friedgen. In those three games the Terps offense has averaged 21 first downs, 212 yards rushing, 182 yards passing 394 yards in total offense and 29.3 points per game. What is most impressive is a 55.9 percent third down conversion rate during this three-game period on 29-52.
Despite the last two games, Maryland still averages 25 points and 331 yards per game in total offense. They have a balanced 157 per game on the ground and 175 per game through the air. Lading the way on offense are running backs Sammy Maldonado and Josh Allen. Maldonado has 418 yards and five touchdowns, while Allen, who has started five of the six games, has 392 yards and three scores.
Joel Statham has started all six games and has completed 73-129 passes for 961 yards and seven scores. Jordan Steffy is a freshman who visited Clemson out of high school, but chose the Terps. He has played in four games and has completed 7-20 passes for 66 yards.
Derrick Fenner, who has the same name as a former North Carolina All-America running back, is the top receiver with 16-245 yards and two scores. He had a 69-yard touchdown reception against the Tigers last year. Vernon Davis is the second leading receiver with 13-211.
The Maryland defense held the NC State to 13 points, even though the unit spent a lot of time on the field. D'Quell Jackson is a returning starter who has 60 tackles in six games, one of the top five averages in the ACC. He also has two interceptions and four passes broken up. Shawne Merriman was the Chevrolet Player of the Game according to the ABC commentators who covered the NC State game, as he had 15 tackles. He now has 50 tackles for the year, including 10 for loss, five of which are sacks.
Maryland is outstanding in terms of the special teams. Punter Adam Podlesh has a 45.6 average, and has eight punts in side the 20. He is the primary reason Maryland ranks first in the nation in net punting. Steve Suter is the ACC's career leader in punt return yards and he also averages 27 yards per kickoff return.
Miller in top 10 of Punt and Kickoff Returns
Clemson junior Justin Miller ranks second in the nation in kickoff returns with a 34.31 average and is now 10th in punt returns with a 16.2 figure. If the season ended today, his kickoff return average would be third best in Clemson history and his punt return average would be fourth best (given a minimum of 10 returns).
Miller is the only player in the nation to rank in the top 10 in both areas entering games of October 23. He is attempting to become the first Clemson player to rank in the top 25 in both categories in the same season since Antwuan Wyatt did it in 1995.
Miller did not have a kickoff return against Utah State, but had 4-86 in terms of punt returns, his high figure in terms of punt return yards in a game in his career. His day included a 54-yard return.
He set an NCAA record for kickoff return yards in a single game when he gained 282 yards in that category at Florida State on September 25. He shattered the previous mark (248 kickoff return yards on 10 returns by Tyrone Watley of Iowa State vs. Nebraska in 1997) by 34 yards. Miller had the record broken by his fourth return and it was just the third quarter.
Miller's day included an NCAA record tying two kickoff returns for touchdown to tie another NCAA record. His first quarter 97-yarder gave Clemson a 7-3 lead at the end of the first quarter and his 86-yarder off a Florida State free kick after a safety brought Clemson within 24-22 in the third period.
The native of Owensboro, KY became the first ACC player in history to have two kickoff returns for touchdown in the same game and the 10th different player (11th occasions) to have two kick returns for touchdown in the same game. Rocket Ismail of Notre Dame (1988-90) is the only player to do it twice. Miller was the first player to do it since Tony Lukins of New Mexico State against Tulsa on October 6, 2001.
He already has three kick returns for touchdowns this year, the two kickoffs against Florida State and a 69-yard punt return against Wake Forest in the season opener. Devin Hester of Miami (FL) is the only other player in the nation with three kick returns for touchdowns this year.
Miller has five career kick returns for touchdowns, three kickoff and two punt returns. The NCAA record for a career is eight, set by Cliff Branch of Colorado in 1970 and 1971.
Miller's season performance includes an NCAA record 282 kickoff return yards at Florida State on September 25, a game in which he also had two returns for touchdown, just the 10th player in NCAA history to have two kickoff returns for touchdown in the same game. Miller also has a punt return for a score He and Devin Hester of Miami (FL) are the only players in the nation with three kick returns for touchdown this year. All three of Hester's are punt returns.
With Miller's performance this year, he is now first in ACC history in career kickoff return average with a 30.9 figure, nearly three yards per return against of former South Carolina player Dickie Harris, who played at South Carolina from 1969-70. Miller is now third in Clemson history in total kickoff return yards with 1422. He is just 131 yards away from breaking Derrick Hamilton's record.
Tigers Faced Top 10 Teams in Consecutive Games
Clemson faced consecutive top 10 teams on the road against Florida State and Virginia recently. In the Associated Press poll of September 19, Florida State was ranked 8th prior to its game with Clemson, 11th by USA Today. In the October 3 poll, Virginia was ranked ninth by USA Today and 10th by AP. This was the first time Clemson played consecutive games against top 10 teams on the road since 1966 when the Tigers played at #9 Georgia Tech and at #4 Alabama in consecutive non-conference games.
Clemson has had to play consecutive games against teams ranked in the top dozen in the nation just four times in its history. In addition to the 1983 listing, the other seasons were in 1966 (vs. #9 Georgia Tech and #4 Alabama), 1963 (vs. #4 Oklahoma and #9 Georgia Tech), and 1955 (vs. #2 Maryland and #12 Auburn). Clemson did not win any of those games.
The Tigers then will go back on the road to face first-year ACC school Miami (FL) in the Orange Bowl on November 6, another team currently ranked in the top 10 (third this week). If Miami is still ranked in the top 10 at that time, it would be just the second time in Clemson history and first since 1966 that Clemson has played three road games against top 10 teams in the same season. The 1966 team played at #9 Georgia Tech, at #4 Alabama and at #5 Southern Cal, all within the first five games of the season.
Turnovers a Telling Stat
From a statistical standpoint it is easy to answer the question, "Why does Clemson have a 2-4 record?" Entering games of October 23, Clemson has committed 17 turnovers on offense, while forcing just four on defense. That is a --13 turnover margin in just six games, meaning Clemson ranks 116 out of 117 teams in Division I in that category.
In terms of points off turnover so far this year the Tigers are being outscored 35-0 in that area. Clemson has lost the turnover margin stat in every game this year, with the exception of the Virginia game when both teams had one apiece. When Tommy Bowden came to Clemson in 1999, his teams were noted for their excellence in that statistics. For the 1997 and 1998 seasons when he was the head coach at Tulane, Bowden's teams finished fifth in the nation in turnover margin.
Prior to this year, his five Clemson teams were 30-9 when at least breaking even in terms of turnover margin and 8-15 when they lost the turnover margin stat. In 2003, when Clemson won nine games, the Tigers were 6-0 when they won the turnover margin statistic. His 2000 team that also won nine games, had a 6-1 record when winning that stat.
Clemson has a history of doing well in this area. The Tigers are the co-holders of the national record for the fewest turnovers in a season with eight in 1940. Notre Dame also had just eight turnovers in 2000. Clemson is also the co-holder of the record for the fewest lost fumbles in a season as the Tigers lost just two in 1994. Fumbles by running backs have not been a problem of late. In fact, over the last 17 games a Clemson running back has lost just one fumble.
Hill Among National Leaders Again
Clemson linebacker Leroy Hill is picking up where he left off last season. During 2003, Hill ranked second in the nation in tackles for loss with 27 and he was also among the top 30 in quarterback sacks with eight in 13 games. This season, Hill already has 12 tackles for loss, including six quarterback sacks. He became just the second defensive player to sack a Virginia quarterback when he had a 12-yard sack at Virginia on October 7. He finished the game with 10 tackles, his third double figure game of the season.
Hill ranked eighth in the nation (prior to October 16 games) in quarterback sacks and he as in the top 20 in tackles for loss. Manny Lawson of NC State is also among the national leaders so that will be an interesting matchup of defenders on October 30 in Death Valley.
Hill was the ACC Defensive Lineman of the week in Clemson's loss to Georgia Tech when he had a season high 14 tackles, including three tackles for loss. He had 13 stops at Florida State, including three tackles for loss and a sack. For his career, Hill now has 262 tackles, 41 tackles for loss and 14 quarterback sacks. He has done this even though he has started just 19 games in his Clemson career. Over his first two years, he played just 182 snaps from scrimmage.
During the preseason, Hill was named to the Butkus, Lombardi and Nagurski Award lists, one of 16 players nationally to appear on all three lists. The only other ACC player on all three was Pat Thomas of NC State.
Special Teams Have Been Special
* Clemson is one of just three teams nationally to rank in the top 15 in the nation in punt returns and kickoff returns. Clemson averages 30.33 yards per kickoff return, fourth best in Division I-A and 13.87 yards per punt return, 15th best in the nation. Clemson, Alabama-Birmingham and Auburn are the only three teams in the nation to rank in the top 15 in each area.
* Clemson punt return coverage has been solid. It demonstrated this against Utah State, who had the nation's top punt returner in Kevin Robinson entering the game. He had a 36-yard average coming into the game, but had two returns for one yard against the Tigers.
* Clemson has blocked three punts this year, the most by a Clemson team since the 1997 team had four. The 1989 team also had four and the overall school record is five by the 1944 team. All three blocked punts have resulted in scores, two safeties and a touchdown. The touchdown was recorded this past Saturday when Gaines Adams had the block and Bobby Williamson scored the touchdown.
* Clemson has two kickoff returns for touchdowns, two punt returns for touchdown and two safeties for a total of 28 points scored off special teams this year. This is a Clemson single season record for points off special teams and we are just six games into the season. This is the first Clemson team in history to have four kick returns for touchdowns, two punt and two kickoff. (Statistically, the blocked punt for a touchdown counts as a punt return).
* Kickoff man Jad Dean has had 25 kickoffs this year and has had 13 touchbacks. Nineteen of his 25 kickoffs have not been returned past the 20 yard-line and he average starting field position after the kickoff for the Clemson opposition is its own 22. The average start for Clemson after a kickoff is its own 34, a 12-yard advantage for the Tigers.
* Punter Cole Chason has a 40-yard average and nine of his 35 punts have been inside the 20. Only 19 of his 35 punts have been returned and he has had just two touchbacks.
Currie Leads ACC in Receptions, Yards
If Reggie Jackson was known as Mr. October then Clemson wide receiver Airese Currie could be known as Mr. September. For the second year in a row the Clemson senior got off to a great start. A year ago, Currie had 26 receptions for 339 yards and three touchdowns before the end of that month. He then suffered some injuries and had just 17 catches the rest of the season.
For the month of September this year Currie had 23 catches for 325 yards and a touchdown. He added seven catches in the first game of October at Virginia, plus five against Utah State and now has 35 for the season. Currie leads the ACC in both receptions per game and reception yards per game is ranked in the top 30 in the nation in both areas.
Currie had nine catches for 152 yards in the season opener against Wake Forest. The 152 receiving yards in that game rank in a tie for sixth best in school history. He continued his fine performance at Texas A&M with five catches for 64 yards. His nine catches and 152 reception yards are still single game highest in the ACC this year. In addition to his receiving accomplishments, Currie has been outstanding in terms of kickoff returns when he has had the opportunity, averaging 37.3 yards per return. He is averaging 97 all-purpose yards per game.
Currie's reached the 100 mark in terms of career receptions with his three catches at Florida State and he went over the 1500 mark in yards at Virginia. He is just the ninth player in Clemson history with at least 100 receptions and 1500 yards.
The effect Tommy Bowden has had on the Clemson passing game is shown by the list of players below. Even though he is in just his sixth year as Clemson head coach, seven of the top 12 receivers in Clemson history have played under Bowden at some point in their career.
Clemson Career Reception Leaders
Clemson Career Reception Yardage Leaders