Clemson - Florida Atlantic Game Notes

Clemson has eight starters and 21 lettermen returning on offense for 2006. The list of starters on the August 27 depth chart has seven seniors on the first team, one junior and three sophomores.

Clemson Offensive Preview
Clemson has eight starters and 21 lettermen returning on offense for 2006. The list of starters on the August 27 depth chart has seven seniors on the first team, one junior and three sophomores.

The offensive line returns all five starters from last year, including seniors Roman Fry, Dustin Fry, Nathan Bennett and Marion Dukes, and junior Barry Richardson. Bennett is in his fourth season as a starter, while Dukes and Richardson are in their third seasons, respectively. Overall, nine of Clemson's top 10 linemen from 2005 return this year.

Will Proctor is the starting quarterback, his first year in that capacity. The senior from Winter Park, FL has started just one game and taken just 99 snaps from center in his career as a reserve behind 2005 senior Charlie Whitehurst, who was a three-year starter for the Tigers. Proctor was 13-21 for 201 yards in his only start last year, a victory over Duke. He has completed over 70 percent of his passes in the preseason scrimmages.

Clemson has depth at running back and in the secondary. Chansi Stuckey is the only returning first-team All-ACC player on the offense. He had 64 catches for 770 yards and four scores last year and was also Clemson's top punt returner. Aaron Kelly and Rendrick Taylor have been in a battle for a starting wide receiver position all fall. Kelly had 47 catches as a freshman, the second highest freshman total in Clemson history. Taylor, who was injured much of last year, had a strong spring, including a record 174 receiving yards in the Spring Game.

The running back position is led by James Davis, the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2005 when he gained 879 yards and scored nine touchdowns. He ranked fourth in the ACC in rushing yards per game, a figure that was enhanced by his 150 yards rushing in the Champs Sports Bowl against Colorado, the second best bowl game rushing total in Clemson history.

Reggie Merriweather gained 715 yards rushing and scored seven touchdowns last year. He had three straight 100-yard rushing games at midseason. Freshman C.J. Spiller is also slated to see playing time at running back, as is Demerick Chancellor, who was Clemson's top ground gainer in scrimmages in the spring and fall.

Clemson will play as many as six tight ends this year. Players in that position caught 35 passes last year, most by Clemson tight ends since 1975 when all-time great Bennie Cunningham was a Tiger.Thomas Hunter is the top player at that position after he had 13 receptions for 120 yards last season.

Clemson Defensive Preview
Clemson has seven starters and 22 lettermen returning in 2006. The defense is led by seniors Gaines Adams and Anthony Waters, two players who considered turning pro last January. Adams is a first-team All-American by many services and is on the preseason list for five different college football awards in 2006. He had 15 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks last year.

Waters was the team's top tackler last year with 109, including 13.5 tackles for loss. He is the top returning tackler in the ACC. He had six different double figure tackle games last year. Sophomore Phillip Merling is another lineman who figures to have a strong year, while many sophomores lead the defensive tackle position. Senior Donnell Clark is coming off a torn ACL suffered in the middle of last season.

Nick Watkins and Antonio Clay figure to join Waters on the second line of defense. Watkins is a junior from New Orleans who had 99 stops last year, second best on the team. Clay had 27 tackles last year as a reserve. He was in a battle for a starting spot with senior Tramaine Billie in the fall, but Billie suffered a broken foot and will be lost for at least the first four games. He could decide to red-shirt the season.

The secondary must replace firstround draft choice Tye Hill and reliable safety Jamaal Fudge. Duane Coleman is one of the leaders of the defense, remarkable considering he did not enter the starting lineup until the 10th game last year. But the former running back finished strong with 21 tackles in the last three games (all Clemson wins), including a team best nine against Florida State. Michael Hamlin made some freshman All-America teams in 2005, and at 6-3 has the ability to roam the secondary. He had his first career interception last year at Georgia Tech while covering All- American Calvin Johnson.

Clemson has a young defense overall with six sophomores slated to start for Vic Koenning's unit. Clemson has not had six players who were sophomores or freshmen in the starting lineup for the course of the season since 1994. There are just three seniors slated to start on defense and two juniors.

Special Teams
Clemson has a preseason All- America kicker in Jad Dean. The senior from Greenwood, SC led the ACC in field goals and scoring last year when he scored 106 points, second most in Clemson history for a kicker. Cole Chason has been challenged by walk-on Jimmy Maners and it will be a game time decision as to the punter position against Florida Atlantic. Punting is an area Tommy Bowden is looking for improvement. Clemson averaged just 33.5 yards a punt last year when it had five punts blocked.

The return game will apparently feature a pair of first-year freshmen in Jacoby Ford and C.J. Spiller.

2006 Schedule Notes
•Clemson will play 11 consecutive weeks to open the season, the first time Clemson has played 11 consecutive weeks since 1986. "That is a positive if you get on a roll, like we did in 2000 (when Clemson played the first 10 weeks of the season), but it can be a negative if you run into injury problems," said Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden. Clemson actually doesn't play 11 consecutive Saturdays, the Tigers have a pair of Thursday night games (October 12 vs. Temple in Charlotte and October 26 at Virginia Tech).

•Clemson's 2006 football schedule includes six bowl teams, including road games at Atlantic Division rivals Boston College and Florida State to open the ACC schedule in early September. Clemson also travels to Virginia Tech for a Thursday evening game in late October.

•Clemson will have a 12-game regular season schedule in 2006, the third time Clemson has played a 12-game regular season schedule. The other seasons were 2002 and 2003.

•The Tigers will open and close the 2006 season against teams led by coaches who have won the national championship. Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger guided Miami (FL) to the 1983 National Championship and he will bring his team to Death Valley in the season opener. Steve Spurrier will bring the South Carolina Gamecocks to Death Valley in the season finale November 25. Spurrier coached Florida to the 1996 National Championship. Bowden has gained seven wins over coaches who have won the national championship since 2003.

•Clemson's next two games are on the road against ACC upper echelon teams Boston College (September 9) and Florida State (September 16). It will be Clemson's first trip to Boston since 1983 when Doug Flutie handed the Tigers their only loss in a 9-1-1 season. This will be the earliest date on the calendar that Clemson has played in Tallahassee since 1993. The Tigers have not won at Florida State since 1989.

•Clemson will return home to face North Carolina on September 23. It will be North Carolina's only game at Clemson between 2004 and 2011. The Tigers won a thrilling 36-28 game at Death Valley in 2003 the last time the two teams met. Clemson will celebrate its 25- years anniversary of the 1981 National Championship on this weekend.

•Clemson will meet Louisiana Tech on September 30. The Bulldogs are coached by Jack Bicknell, whose father brought Boston College to face the Tigers in Death Valley in 1982. it is the only father-son opposing coaching combination in Clemson history. Bicknell also brought Louisiana Tech to Clemson in 2002 for the season opener.

•The Tigers will travel to Wake Forest for the third time in the last four years on October 7, when Clemson travels to Wake Forest. Clemson has beaten Florida State two of the last three years, but has lost at Wake Forest two of the last three years.

•Clemson will have just five days to prepare for Temple on October 12, a game that will be played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. This will be Temple's home game.

•Four of the last five games will be at home. Clemson will attempt to end its two-game losing streak against Georgia Tech when the Yellow Jackets come to Death Valley on October 21. The two teams have played games decided by five points or less nine of the last 10 years.

•Clemson will then play at Virginia Tech in a Thursday night match up on ESPN on October 26. The contest will be just five days after the Georgia Tech game and will be just the fifth time (twice in October 2006) since 1933 that Clemson has had just four days in between games.

• It will be the first meeting between Clemson and Virginia Tech since the Gator Bowl at the conclusion of the 2000 season. They also met in the regular season in 1998 at Clemson and at Virginia Tech in 1999 in Tommy Bowden's first season as Tiger head coach. Clemson has not won at Virginia Tech since 1989.

•Clemson concludes the season with three consecutive home games for the first time since 1998. Maryland travels to Death Valley on November 4. The Tigers have won consecutive games by four points or less on touchdowns inside the last three minutes by Reggie Merriweather against the Terps.

•NC State will close Clemson's ACC schedule on Saturday November 11. It will be just the second time in the last five years that the two teams have played on a Saturday. Clemson and Florida State are the only two ACC teams who will conclude their ACC schedule on November 11.

•The Tigers will have two weeks to prepare for South Carolina, as the annual state rivalry game will be played the Saturday after Thanksgiving for the first time since 1984. The November 25 date is the latest for the South Carolina game since the two teams played on the same date in 1978.

•Clemson will not play ACC teams Miami (FL), Duke or Virginia during the regular season. It will be the first time Clemson has not played Duke since 1964.

Clemson Corners Have Experience on Offense
Clemson starting cornerbacks C.J. Gaddis and Duane Coleman both have experience on offense in their Clemson careers. Gaddis is a red-shirt junior from Raeford, NC, while Coleman is a red-shirt senior from Naples, FL.

Coleman was Clemson's leading rusher in 2003 as a freshman when he gained 615 yards on 133 carries. He also had 34 receptions for 309 yards, becoming the second player in Clemson history to gain at least 600 yards rushing and 300 yards receiving in the same season.

A year ago at this time, Coleman was a running back and he had 10 carries in the opening game victory against Texas A&M. Coleman moved over to the defensive side last season after the Maryland game in week II, and became a starter for the last three games of the year. Clemson won all three games, as he had 21 tackles in the three games. He had nine stops in the win over Florida State, his first career start at cornerback to lead the team.

Coleman has 50 career pass receptions and 35 career tackles. With 15 more tackles he will become the first Clemson player on record to have 50 tackles and 50 receptions in a career. (Tackle stats only go back to 1976.)

Gaddis came to Clemson as a quarterback and spent his freshman year playing that position as a red-shirt behind Charlie Whitehurst and Chansi Stuckey. He moved to the secondary for spring practice prior to the 2004 season. Last year, as a sophomore, he had 59 tackles, fifth on the Clemson team in that category. He made five starts last season.

Three Tigers Have Degrees
Three current Clemson players have already earned their undergraduate degrees. Punter Cole Chason earned his degree last May in marketing, wide receiver Chansi Stuckey earned his degree in August in sports management and defensive end Brandon Cannon earn his degree in May in management.

A total of 36 student-athletes have played for Clemson under Tommy Bowden (eight seasons) with their undergraduate degree already in hand. There are nine seniors on this year's team scheduled to graduate in December, including defensive leaders Gaines Adams and Anthony Waters.

In the seven years Tommy Bowden has completed at Clemson he has had 121 senior lettermen. Ninety-four of those 121 have earned their degrees, 78 percent. Some of those former players are still in school pursuing their degree so that number should increase.

Clemson Has 14 Fifth-Year Seniors
Clemson has a veteran team in many ways in 2006. The active roster has 22 seniors, 18 of whom are on scholarship and 14 of those are in their fifth seasons with the program. The leadership is widely distributed as each position coach has at least one fifth-year senior. The area of the team with the most seniors is the offensive line where four are starting and another is a primary backup.

This year's senior class already has 23 wins in the bank and has a 23-13 record, a .640 winning percentage. That includes a 7-5 record against top 25 teams. The last Clemson senior class to defeat eight top 25 teams was the senior class of 1993. The record is 10 wins by a senior class, held by many. This group of seniors is 15-4 at home and has a 2-0 record in bowl games, wins over 6th ranked Tennessee and Colorado.

The seven wins over top 25 ranked teams ranks tied for 10th in the nation among 2006 senior classes. Ohio State has the most with 13, followed by Texas with 12. Clemson's 2006 senior class is also tied for 10th in wins over top 20 teams with six. LSU has the most in that category with 11.

Two New Coaches on Staff
Clemson has two new coaches on its staff and both played college football in the state of South Carolina, but not for Clemson. Billy Napier, a former Furman quarterback is Clemson's tight ends coach, while Chris Rumph, former South Carolina defensive lineman, is the Tigers defensive line coach.

Napier is a 2003 Furman graduate, who at 27, is one of the youngest full time Division I coaches in the nation. He played at Furman from 1999-2002 and was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award in 2002 when he completed 68.5 percent of his passes and was named the Furman team captain. Napier had been at South Carolina State in 2005. Rumph played at South Carolina from 1991-94. He played the 1994 season under Brad Scott, Clemson's current offensive line coach and assistant head coach. Rumph had a strong senior year when he had a career high 52 tackles and helped the Gamecocks win their first ever bowl game. Rumph coaches the Clemson defensive line and among his protege's is Phillip Merling, a sophomore who is Rumph's nephew. Rumph had coached under former Clemson Head Coach Tommy West at Memphis the last three seasons before coming to Clemson.

Simmons Named Video Graduate Assistant
Former Clemson quarterback Willie Simmons has joined Tommy Bowden's staff as a video graduate assistant for the offense. He replaces Richie Wessman, who resigned in July to take a position with the Tennessee Titans of the NFL. Simmons came to Clemson as a freshman in August of 1999. After red-shirting that season, he played for the Tigers from 2000 through 2002. He earned his marketing degree in May of 2002. He played the 2003 season for The Citadel. Simmons played in 24 games, eight as a starter for the Tigers.

He completed 204 of 391 yards for 2530 yards and 16 touchdowns in his career. He is 12 th in Clemson history in passing yardage and 11th in completions.

As a freshman in 2000 Simmons threw eight touchdown passes in just 92 attempts as a backup to Woodrow Dantzler on Clemson's 9-3 team that finished 14th in the final AP poll. That year he threw four touchdowns passes in the victory at North Carolina, tying the Clemson single game record. Simmons was named ACC Rookie of the Week for that performance.

He played in just five games as a backup to Dantzler in 2001, then played in 10 games in 2002, eight as a starter. He completed 142 of 244 passes for 1559 yards in 2002. He was named the Chevrolet ABC Player of the Game in Clemson's victory over Wake Forest in 2002.

In 2003 at The Citadel, Simmons completed 153 of 300 passes for 1864 yards. The 1864 yards rank fifth in The Citadel history in passing yards for one season. His season included a college career high 32 yards against Western Carolina. At the conclusion of the 2003 season, Simmons was named first-team All-Southern Conference quarterback.

Simmons was the offensive coordinator at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee in 2005. Bowden Seeks Seventh Straight Winning Season Based on the preseason rankings, the Clemson players and coaches have goals higher than achieving just a winning season in 2006. However, a winning season would give the program seven in a row, the second longest streak in Clemson history and the longest for the program since a record eight years in a row from 1977-84.

Charlie Pell (two years) and Danny Ford (last six) combined for that eight-year streak of winning seasons. Bowden can break the Clemson individual coaching record for consecutive winning seasons if he can record a winning year in 2006. Ford had the six-year streak mentioned above and Frank Howard had six consecutive winning seasons from 1955-60.

Clemson Enters 2006 on Four-Game Winning Streak
Clemson won its last four games of the 2005 season to finish with an 8-4 record. Finishing strong has been the norm for Clemson the last three years. The Tigers won five of their last six in each of the last four in 2003, then won five of the last six in 2004 before winning six of the last seven of 2005. The 2005 season marked the first time since the 1991 season that Clemson won six of its last seven games.

Clemson has a 6-9 record in the first five games of the year over the last three years, but is 17-4 in the remaining games of the year over the last three years.

A win over Florida Atlantic would give Clemson five straight wins. Clemson has not won five in a row since winning the last four games of 2003 and the first game of 2004. The longest winning streak under Tommy Bowden took place in 2000 when Clemson won its first eight games of the season and reached a #5 Associated Press ranking, and a #3 ranking in USA Today.

Clemson is one of just nine teams nationally entering the 2006 season with a winning streak of at least four games. Texas has the longest winning streak entering this year at 20 in a row. TCU is the only other school with a double digit win streak, as the Horned Frogs have won 10 in a row dating to a loss to SMU early last year. Ohio State and West Virginia have both won seven in a row, while Louisiana-Lafayette, Penn State and Nevada have a five-game winning streak entering this year. Clemson and Tulsa have won four in a row.

All Five Offensive Line Starters are Back
Clemson returns all five starters in the offensive line for 2006. That has been a good indication of a successful season, as the Tigers are a combined 39-9 the last four seasons Clemson has returned all five starters in the offensive line. The stat dates to the 1981 season when Clemson had all five starters back on the way to a 12-0 record and the school's only National Championship. The other seasons in the last 25 years that Clemson has had all five starters back are 1987 (10-2), 1995 (8-4) and 2000 (9-3). Clemson ranked in the final top 16 of each poll in each year but 1995. Clemson was a combined 39-9 overall, including 24-5 in ACC games (.828).

This year's five returning starters on the offensive line include center Dustin Fry, a preseason selection for the Dave Rimington Award, offensive guard Roman Fry (no relation), a preseason list selection for the Outland Trophy, offensive tackle Barry Richardson, the only junior of the group who has been a preseason All-American by at least one service, offensive guard Nathan Bennett and offensive tackle Marion Dukes. Roman Fry was a second team All-ACC selection last year.

Florida Atlantic Overview
Florida Atlantic comes to Clemson led by a legendary head coach. Howard Schnellenberger won a national championship as an assistant under Bear Bryant at Alabama in the 1960s and won a title as a head coach at the University of Miami (FL) in 1983. When you look at the history of the University of Miami (FL) it is Schnellenberger who got the program going in the early 1980s. The program was near extinction before he got there in 1979. He has also been the head coach at Louisville and Oklahoma and was the head coach of the Baltimore Colts in 1973 and 1974. He has won 128 games as a college head coach. Schnellenberger took on a great challenge when he became the head coach at Florida Atlantic in 2000. The Owls didn't even have a program. It can't be easy to start from scratch, but that is what Schnellenberger did and he has had some fine teams. The best Owl squad was the 2003 team that finished 11-3. He followed that with a 9-3 campaign.

Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden said Schnellenberger will bring a sound team to Clemson from a fundamental standpoint.

"They like to use a lot of two-back on offense and they will be multiple on defense. When I was a graduate assistant at Florida State and he was the head coach at Miami (FL) he was certainly a coach that you watched with interest. He always had fundamental teams that out executed teams."

This year's team has 42 returning lettermen and 17 starters back. They lost just nine lettermen off last year's team. Jervonte Jackson is a defensive lineman the Tigers will have to account for today. He is a preseason first-team All-Sun Belt selection according to many preseason publications after he had 38 tackles as a freshman in 2005. Troy Pindell is a big play guy on defense after he led the team in interceptions with four and blocked kicks with three in 2005.

Charles Pierre led Florida Atlantic in rushing last year as a freshman with 517 yards and three touchdowns. Casey McGahee is the top returning receiver with 23 catches last year. He has played on both sides of the ball over his career.

Bowden vs. National Championship Coaches
Tommy Bowden has had a habit of defeating veteran coaches who have won the National Championship since he has been the head coach at Clemson. He has a chance to enhance that number on Saturday when Clemson takes on Florida Atlantic and Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger.

Schnellenberger led the University of Miami (FL) to the national championship in 1983 with an Orange Bowl win over Nebraska, just two years after Clemson had captured the title with an Orange Bowl win over the Cornhuskers. Bowden already has 10 wins over coaches who have won the national championship since 1999, his first year at Clemson.

Entering Saturdays game he has actually done it in two of the last three games. He defeated his father, Bobby Bowden of Florida State, last November 12 by a 35-14 score, then ended the regular season with a win over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina. Spurrier won the national championship at Florida in 1996 and his father won the national title at Florida State in 1993 and 1999. Only two other coaches have defeated both Bobby Bowden and Steve Spurrier in the same year. Phillip Fulmer did it for Tennessee in 1998, the year his Volunteers won the National Championship, and Butch Davis did it in 2000, his last year at Miami (FL).

Tommy Bowden already has 10 wins over five different coaches who have won the National Championship in their careers. He had three of the 10 wins in a four-game span to end the 2003 season.

Bowden had five wins over Lou Holtz, who led Notre Dame to the title in 1988, between 1999-2004. Tommy Bowden defeated Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee in the 2003 Peach Bowl, 27-14. Fulmer led the Volunteers to the title in 1998. He has twice beaten his father, Bobby Bowden, who won the title in 1993 and 1999 with Florida State, and defeated Larry Coker of Miami, last year at the Orange Bowl, 24-17. Coker led the Hurricanes to the National Championship in 2001.

Bowden already has the Clemson record for coaching wins over coaches who had won a national championship. Danny Ford had seven such victories in his Clemson career between 1978-87. The national championship coaches Ford defeated were Woody Hayes of Ohio State, Barry Switzer of Oklahoma, Dan Devine of Notre Dame, Joe Paterno of Penn State and Vince Dooley of Georgia (three times). He also defeated Tom Osborne of Nebraska, but Osborne had not yet won a national championship when Ford beat him in the 1982 Orange Bowl.

First time Winners at Death Valley
Florida Atlantic will attempt to become just the third first-time visitor in the last 29 years to win at Death Valley. The only opponents since 1978 to win in their first visit to Clemson have been Marshall, a 13- 10 winner in the season opener of the 1999 season, and Miami (FL), last year in a 36-30 triple overtime game. Prior to that, the last firstappearance winner at Clemson was Notre Dame in 1977. Florida Atlantic is the 47th different team to come to Clemson Memorial Stadium and the previous 46 have a record of 12-33-1 in their first game at Clemson. Three of the 12 first-time winners (Alabama, Kentucky, Marshall) have beaten the Tigers by the exact same score, 13-10.

A look to Clemson's home record over the years shows why the Tigers enjoy playing in Death Valley. Clemson has a record of 304- 116-15 at home over the years, a .716 winning percentage. Clemson is 248-257-25 away from home, a .492 winning percentage for those 530 games on an opponent's home field. Clemson is 56-44-5 in neutral site games. You might notice that Clemson now has 608 all-time victories, 304 at home and 304 away from home. Clemson has a 231-90-7 record in Death Valley (since 1942), a .716 winning percentage for 328 games. Tommy Bowden has followed the lead of his predecessors when it comes to playing at home. He is 33- 12 so far in his 45 home games, a .733 winning percentage. Clemson has won 16 of the last 19 at home with the only three losses in overtime or within the last 10 seconds of the game, all by six points or less.

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