Clemson - Virginia Tech Game Notes

Clemson has a 17-10-1 lead in the series with Virginia Tech, including a 6-2 advantage in games played in Blacksburg, and a 4-1 lead in games played in Lane Stadium.

Clemson vs. Virginia Tech Series
Clemson has a 17-10-1 lead in the series with Virginia Tech, including a 6-2 advantage in games played in Blacksburg, and a 4-1 lead in games played in Lane Stadium. Virginia Tech's only win over Clemson in Lane Stadium took place in 1999. That Virginia Tech team led by Michael Vick went on to the national championship game that year against Florida State.

The Hokies have won each of the last three games in the series, one at Clemson, one at Virginia Tech, and one in the 2001 Gator Bowl. Those three consecutive wins all came under Frank Beamer in 1998, 1999 and 2000. The 1998 victory was in Tommy West's last year and the 1999 and 2000 wins for Virginia Tech took place against Tommy Bowden. The two teams have not met since the 2001 Gator Bowl at the end of the 2000 season.

Clemson's last victory in the series took place in 1989 at Blacksburg, as a seventh-ranked Clemson team that had just won at Florida State, defeated Virginia Tech 27- 7. Virginia Tech's only score came on a 90- yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Marcus Mickel.

Here are some other notes on the series:

•The Clemson vs. Virginia Tech series is one of the oldest in the Clemson history books. The two teams first met in 1900 when the Tigers won 17-5 during John Heisman's first year as head coach. That was Clemson's fifth straight win in a 6-0 season in Heisman's first year. That game was played in Charlotte, NC.

•Clemson actually had a nine-game winning streak in the series from 1955-89, including a 6-1 record against the Hokies in the decade of the 1980s.

•Virginia Tech won in the last game played in Blacksburg, a 31-11 Hokie victory in a Thursday night game on ESPN. Clemson trailed just 17-11 late in the game, but Virginia Tech scored two touchdowns in the last four minutes. Clemson held Michael Vick to 7-16 passing for 88 yards and intercepted three of his passes, the most effective pass defense against Vick during that season.

•The 1956 Clemson vs. Virginia Tech game was a battle of top 15 teams at Clemson. The Tigers won that game 21-6. Last Saturday Clemson defeated Georgia Tech 31-7 in a battle of top 13 teams at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Those are the only two games in Clemson history that Clemson has won in Death Valley when both teams were ranked in the top 15 in the nation entering the game.

•Virginia Tech upset Clemson in the season opener at Clemson in 1986 by a 20-14 score. That was one of just two season opening losses in Danny Ford's Clemson career. A blocked punt by Virginia Tech's Mitch Dove was a key play in the game. Clemson's punter that day was Bill Spiers, who went on to a 10-year major league baseball career.

•Clemson won the 1985 game at Virginia Tech by a 20-17 score on a 36-yard field goal by David Treadwell on the last play of the game. That was the season opener for both teams.

•Clemson had a three-game winning streak in the series between 1987-89. Clemson's defense was prominent, allowing just 24 points and two offensive touchdowns in those three games combined.

Last Meeting with Virginia Tech
2001 Gator Bowl
Virginia Tech 41, Clemson 20

Michael Vick rebounded from an ankle-injury to lead Virginia Tech to a 41-20 win over Clemson victory in his final college game at the Gator Bowl. The quarterback finished with two touchdowns while completing 10 of 18 passes for 205 yards. The contest was a battle of mobile quarterbacks, as Clemson's Woodrow Dantzler gained 261 yards of total offense for the afternoon. Both teams were ranked in the top 20 of both polls entering the game. The Hokies capitalized on early costly Tiger mistakes. The uncharacteristic play began on the first drive when snapper Henry Owen bounced his delivery to punter Jaime Somaini, who was tackled for an eight-yard loss by Lee Suggs. Tech scored on its first offensive play of the game when Vick threw to Jarrett Ferguson on a 23-yard touchdown play.

Later in the quarter, Terry Jolly jumped off-side to preserve an 11-play, 59-yard drive that ended in a six-yard touchdown run for Vick.

Clemson got back into the game, but at a heavy cost. Dantzler found Travis Zachery for a 23-yard touchdown early in the second quarter. However, Zachery's missed the rest of the game due to a broken foot that occurred as the tailback leaped into the endzone. On the play, Zachery also snapped Lester Brown's single-season Clemson record of 17 touchdowns in a season.

Two possessions later, Keith Adams sacked Vick for 18 yards, forcing a fumble that Terry Bryant recovered on the Hokie 13. Clemson had to settle for an Aaron Hunt field goal, bringing the Tigers to within 14-10. But, that was as close as Clemson could get. Suggs scored his first touchdown of the day on a three-yard rush on the next possession to give the Hokies a 21-10 lead.

Hopes of a second-half rally were shattered when Vick found Andre Davis for a 55-yard touchdown on the first drive of the second half. Willie Simmons relieved Dantzler in the final quarter. On his first possession, Simmons led the offense on an 11-play, 71-yard drive that ended in a 23-yard touchdown pass to Rod Gardner. With seven catches, Gardner surpassed Terry Smith's Clemson record for career receptions, finishing his career with 166.

Both quarterbacks were prominent in the much-anticipated match-up between Vick and Dantzler, although the Hokie quarterback left with both a Gator Bowl and a MVP trophy. Vick had the advantage in the passing game, his numbers slightly besting Dantzler's 15-32 for 180 yards.

Tigers from Virginia
Clemson has just two players on its roster from the state of Virginia, but both are prominent players. Chris McDuffie is a redshirt junior offensive guard who will make his first college start at Virginia Tech this Thursday.

McDuffie is from Danville, VA and will be replacing Roman Fry in the starting lineup at a guard position. Fry suffered a torn ACL against Georgia Tech and is lost for the season. McDuffie will thus be making his first college start in his home state.

McDuffie came on in the fourth play of the Georgia Tech game and had an immediate impact as James Davis followed his block for a 17-yard run and a first down. McDuffie played 39 plays in the Georgia Tech game and had an 82 percent grade from the Clemson coaches. He had 10.5 knockdown blocks, the high total in the game among Clemson linemen.

Kavell Conner is a red-shirt freshman linebacker from Richmond, VA. He has played in all eight games and has played 104 snaps so far this season. He has 24 tackles to rank 10th on the team, second among non-starters. He had seven of those tackles in the win over Louisiana Tech to lead the team in that category. He had four tackles in 11 snaps in the win over Georgia Tech.

Virginia is proving to be a good state for athletic talent for Clemson. The starting point guard on the Tigers basketball team is Vernon Hamilton, a native of Richmond, who was a member of the All-ACC defense team last year.

Anniversary Season at Clemson
So far the 2006 Clemson football season has the makings of a special year. The Tigers are 7-1 for just the second time since 1987 and are ranked in the top 10 for the first time since 2000.

This is an anniversary season for the Clemson program in many ways. First, this is the 25-year anniversary of Clemson's 1981 national championship, the only national championship in the programs history. That team finished 12-0 under Danny Ford and defeated Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, 22- 15.That anniversary was celebrated on September 23 at the North Carolina game. That team was inducted as a team into the Clemson Ring of Honor at Memorial Stadium. This is also the 50-year anniversary of Clemson's 1956 team that went to the Orange Bowl. The last two seasons Clemson has been to the Orange Bowl have been the 1981 and 1956 teams, squads celebrating their 25th and 50th anniversaries, respectively. The 1956 team will be honored at the Maryland game on November 4.

As far as Clemson tradition, this is the 40-year anniversary of Howard's Rock and its placement at the top of the hill at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Clemson players rub Howard's Rock before they run down the hill prior to each game. It was first place on the pedestal for the Virginia game in 1966.

From a campus standpoint, this is the 100th year of The Tiger student newspaper, the 40-year anniversary of the Cooper Library, and the 200-year anniversary of the birth of Thomas Green Clemson, the university's founder. Clemson just had its 50th Tigerama, the homecoming celebration prior to the homecoming game. That homecoming contest was October 21 against Georgia Tech.

Reliving 1989
There are many similarities between this Clemson team and the 2006 Tigers. First, Clemson is starting a fifth-year senior quarterback in his first year as the starter. Will Proctor was a backup to Charlie Whitehurst before finally getting his shot this year. Whitehurst won 25 games as the Clemson starting signal caller, the second most wins in Clemson history. In 1989, Chris Morocco was a fifth-year senior in his first year as the starter after serving behind Rodney Williams for four years. Williams is Clemson's winningest quarterback with 32 career victories.

This season Clemson won in Tallahassee by a 27-20 score on a one-yard touchdown run by James Davis with eight seconds left. The last time Clemson had won in Tallahassee was in 1989, a 34-23 victory engineered by Chris Morocco.

Thursday night Clemson will travel to Blacksburg, VA to take on Virginia Tech. The last time Clemson defeated the Hokies was in 1989 in Blacksburg, a 27-7 Clemson victory. In that game Clemson used a strong running back tandem to gain the victory. Wesley McFadden had 20 rushes for 93 yards and Terry Allen added 17-74 and a touchdown to key the victory. Allen had a key play in the game when he completed a 66-yard halfback option pass to Gary Cooper to give Clemson a 20-0 lead. Of course, the 2006 Clemson team features a dynamic pair at running back in James Davis and C.J. Spiller.

Clemson held Virginia Tech to 243 yards of total offense behind top tackler Levon Kirkland, who also had a 47-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Clemson working on quick Turnaround
Clemson has a quick turnaround in playing at Virginia Tech on Thursday night. The Tigers defeated Georgia Tech this past Saturday and will attempt to sweep the ACC Tech's within a five-day period. Clemson also defeated Louisiana Tech earlier this year. This is the second time this year Clemson has had a quick turnaround. Clemson defeated Wake Forest on October 7, a Saturday, then defeated Temple on Thursday night October 12 in Charlotte. That marked the first time since 1929 that Clemson has won two games in five days. That year Clemson defeated The Citadel at Clemson by a 13-0 score on November 23, then defeated Furman five days later (Nov. 28) by a 7-6 score at Clemson.

Overall, this is just the fifth time since 1933 that Clemson has played two games within five days. The other occurrences took place in 1982, 2002, 2003. The 2002 and 2003 occurrences were ESPN Thursday night games, while the 1982 schedule was a Monday night game at Georgia followed by a home game against Western Carolina.

Playing games in short periods of time were commonplace in the early days of football. Clemson played three games in seven days twice, once in 1907 an again in 1911. In 1907 Clemson lost to Auburn on Nov. 4, to Georgia on Nov. 7 and to Davidson on Nov. 9. In 1911, the Tigers defeated South Carolina on Nov. 2, defeated The Citadel on Nov. 4 and lost to Georgia on Nov. 9.

Clemson on ESPN Thursday Night
This will be Clemson's eighth appearance on ESPN's Thursday Night College Football Package. Clemson is 1-6 in its previous appearances, including a 1-5 under Tommy Bowden. That one win, however, took place in Clemson's last appearance, a 31-10 win last season at NC State.

Clemson lost to Georgia Tech in the 1998 season under Tommy West, then lost at Virginia Tech and Michael Vick on a Thursday night in 1999, Tommy Bowden's first year. The Tigers lost a pair of Thursday night games in 2002, at Florida State and at home against NC State. In 2003 Clemson lost at NC State, 17- 15, in a battle of current San Diego Charger quarterbacks (Phillip Rivers and Charlie Whitehurst). The Tigers dropped a 30-10 decision to a #12 Virginia team in 2004.

While Clemson has a 1-6 mark on Thursday night, it should be noted that five of the six losses have been to top 25 teams and four of the six have been on the road. Clemson played at home on a Thursday night in the ESPN package against Georgia Tech in 1998 and against NC State in 2002. Georgia Tech entered that 1998 game ranked 22nd in the nation, but finished the season 10-2 and ranked ninth in the nation. The 1999 Virginia Tech team finished 11-1 and ranked second in the country. The 2002 NC State team finished with a school record 11 wins and a top 20 ranking.

Playing on Thursday is not new for Clemson historically. Clemson and South Carolina used to play on "Big Thursday" every year between 1909 and 1959. The game was played in Columbia in conjunction with the State Fair. Clemson did not win a Thursday game between 1964 and 2004. The Tigers played on Thanksgiving Day in 1963 due to the death of President Kennedy. Overall, Clemson has played 124 games on Thursdays in its history and the Tigers are 54-60-10 in those games. Clemson has won two in a row on Thursday, including this year's 63-9 win over Temple in Charlotte on October 12.

Thunder and Lightning
Clemson running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller both went over 100 yards rushing in Clemson's win over Louisiana Tech, two of three running backs to go over 100 in that 51-0 Clemson win. (Demerick Chancellor was the third). Davis had 11-143 and two touchdowns, while Spiller gained 127 in 15 carries and scored once. That marked the first time since 1982 that three backs went over 100 yards in a game for the Tigers, the first time since 2002 that two went over 100 yards in the same game.

That combined 270 yards by Davis and Spiller was trumped in the win over Georgia Tech when they combined for 332 on 37 carries and scored a combined four touchdowns. Davis had 216 yards in the contest, his career high, and had a pair of runs over 50 yards. Spiller added 116 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown run and added a 50- yard touchdown reception off a shot pass in the flat from quarterback Will Proctor. It marked the first time in Clemson history that the Tigers had had a 200-yard rusher and 100-yard rusher in the same game. The closest occurrence came in 1974 when Ken Callicutt had 197 and Mark Fellers had 106 in a victory over South Carolina at Death Valley.

The combined 332 yards rushing ranks by Spiller and Davis against Georgia Tech ranks second in Clemson history for two Clemson players in the same game, the most since Raymond Priester and Nealon Greene had a combined 358 against Duke in 1995. It was quite an accomplishment considering Georgia Tech was seventh in the nation in rushing defense entering the game, allowing just 72 yards per game.

During the ESPN broadcast of the Georgia Tech game, color commentator Todd Blackledge referred to Davis and Spiller as "Thunder and Lightning" because of their respective running styles. Davis has more of the power game and Spiller has lightning quick speed. The players were interviewed on the ESPN Gameday set at Death Valley immediately after the game.

So far this year, Davis and Spiller have combined for 1484 yards in eight games, an average of 185.5 yards per game. The duo has those 1484 yards on just 216 attempts, for a per carry average of 6.87 yards per rush. They also have a combined 23 rushing touchdowns. They are ahead of the Clemson record pace for combined yards rushing per game by a duo over the course of a season. They are just three touchdowns short of the rushing touchdown record for two backs combined. Top Stories