Clemson - Maryland Notebook

College Park, Md. - Clemson's offense finally showed the diversity that it can be both, quick striking and methodical. And that was never better on display than on the Tigers' first and last possessions of the game.

On Clemson's first possession of the game, the Tigers, aided by a 15-yard penalty, held onto the ball an incredible 9:47 on 17 plays, before tailback Reggie Merriweather scored on a fourth-and-goal run from the 1.

The drive was the longest time wise in school history. The previous longest drive was 9:34, which came in 1992 against North Carolina.

Then in the fourth quarter when they needed it most, the Tigers compiled a five-play, 86-yard drive that took only 1:02, which was highlighted by a perfectly thrown 51-yard pass from quarterback Charlie Whitehurst to receiver Curtis Baham.

"I trust what (offensive coordinator Rob Spence) is calling up there 100 percent," Whitehurst said. "If you beat on people time and time again, in the fourth quarter they're going to wear down. They started bring people stopping (the run) and we had to go over their heads to make them back off a little bit."

Long snapper change
Nic Riddle, who was saved last week by punter and field goal holder Cole Chason with three bad snaps, had his worst yet of the young season.

Early in the second quarter, Riddle, a junior, sailed a snap some 10 feet over Chason's head, who was set up to punt. Chason finally recovered it on his own 2. Four plays later, Maryland scored its first touchdown of the game to take a 10-7 lead.

Colin Leonard replaced Riddle the rest of the way, and except of one snap that made Chason jump slightly, they were all on the target.

"We thought we'd give (Riddle) one more chance," Tigers coach Tommy Bowden said. "I told (Leonard) that if he had good snaps I'd quit calling him Colon and call him Colin. He's now Colin Leonard."

Spence returns to MD
Clemson's game at College Park meant a trip back to a former employer for Spence, who served as an assistant coach at Maryland from 1992-96.

While at Maryland, Spence helped guide the Terrapins offense to a 53-23 victory over Clemson in 1992.

"Maryland was five years of tremendous growth professionally," Spence said. "I worked for an excellent head coach in Mark Duffner. It was probably one of the toughest, toughest five years of my life. I won't lie to you. I was never home, I was never around. It was a very difficult time for me professionally in a sense that I just worked the entire time.

"It seemed like it was nonstop trying to get that program off the ground at that time. That was very difficult on my family. But I probably grew as much as a football coach during those five years as much as anytime in my life. I know that I also grew as a Christian during those five years because of the difficulties and the challenges."

Nelson leaves team
Third-team senior linebacker Roosevelt Nelson has opted to leave the team and concentrate on his academics, sports information director Tim Bourret said.

Nelson had come to the conclusion prior to the Texas A&M game and didn't suit up for it. But Bowden gave him another week to think about his decision.

Nelson had played in 34 games, but was in on only 66 plays. He had 13 career tackles. He is scheduled to graduate in December.

Quick hits
Chip Myrick got the start at left guard on offense, while Cory Groover got the start at defensive tackle. … Freshman tailback James Davis got the start over veteran Merriweather. … Receiver Rendrick Taylor made the first catch of his career and season in the first quarter. … Starting left guard Brandon Pilgrim didn't play due to the shoulder injury he sustained against Texas A&M. …

In one of the multiple formations on offense, usual offensive right tackle Barry Richardson lined up at right tight end in Clemson's goal line offense. … The 81.8 completion percentage by Whitehurst was the second best in Clemson history against an ACC school. … Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen is now 32-2 when leading at the half. His two losses are at the hands of Clemson in each of the last two years.

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