Louisiana-Monroe Game Notes

Clemson has a quick turnaround in playing Louisiana- Monroe on Saturday after playing Florida State on Monday night.

Clemson working on quick Turnaround
Clemson has a quick turnaround in playing Louisiana- Monroe on Saturday after playing Florida State on Monday night. The last time Clemson had to prepare on a short week, it lost the second game at Virginia Tech. The Tigers had defeated Georgia Tech the previous Saturday, then lost to the Hokies in Blacksburg on Thursday (Oct. 21-26, 2007).

Clemson last won two games in five days last year. Clemson defeated Wake Forest on Saturday October 7, 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.

So, a win over Louisiana Monroe on Saturday would give Clemson two wins in five days for just the second time since 1929.

Overall, this is just the fifth time since 1933 that Clemson has played two games within five days. The other occurrences took place in 2002, 2003 and twice in 2006. The 2002 and 2003 occurrences were ESPN Thursday night games. Clemson played a Monday night game at Georgia in 1982, but did not play the following Saturday. They had 12 days to prepare for a September 18 game with Boston College.

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 and 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.

So, since 1933, Clemson is 1-3 when having just four days to prepare for a game. The one win was the victory over Temple last year.

Clemson KOR Coverage Much Improved
One of the areas Clemson Coach Tommy Bowden wanted to see improvement in 2007 was kickoff return coverage. The Tigers struggled in that area last year as opponents had a 23.9 return average and had an average start of the 30-yard-line. Boston College returned a kickoff for a touchdown in their overtime victory last year in Boston. Had Clemson won that game it would have played in the ACC Championship game.

When running backs coach Andre Powell joined the staff from North Carolina in February he brought with him a resume that included serving as special teams coordinator. He had been especially successful in the kickoff return coverage area. North Carolina ranked second in the ACC in that area in 2006.

His hard work in the area paid off in Clemson's 24-18 win over Florida State on September 3. The Seminoles, who have a history of returning kicks for scores against Clemson, averaged 19.8 yards per return on their five kickoff returns. This includes the kickoff return after the Clemson safety.

Florida State's average start after kickoffs (not including the start after the safety) was its own 21.4 yard line. That is obviously much improved over the 30-yard-line for the 2006 season. That nine-yard difference was realized even though the kickoffs were moved back to the 30 from the 35 this year.

Florida State's started at their own 21, 12, 22, 32 and 20 after Clemson kickoffs. They had a return to the 41 after the safety and that is factored into the official kickoff return stats.

Clemson place kicker Mark Buchholz had a positive impact on the coverage. His kickoffs were high and deep. He had two kickoffs to the one and two that reached the end zone, including one touchback. The fifth kickoff from the 30 reached the eight.

Tigers Face Non-BCS Division I Opponent
Clemson will face Louisiana-Monroe, a member of the Sun Belt Conference, on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 PM. Clemson has had success over the years against Division I teams not in BCS conferences. The Tigers are 16-1 against non-BCS Division I schools since 1975, including a 9-1 mark under Tommy Bowden.

Clemson's only loss to a Division I non-BCS conference team since 1975 is a 13-10 loss to Marshall, then of the Mid-American Conference, in 1999. That was Tommy Bowden's first game as Clemson coach. That Marshall team, led by current New York Jets quarterback Chad Pennington, went on to a 13-0 season and a #10 final national ranking in both polls. Marshall is now a member of Conference USA.

The last Division I team not in a BCS conference to defeat Clemson prior to the Marshall game in 1999 was Tulane, who gained a 17-13 win at Clemson in the 1975 season opener. Tulane was an independent then.

Clemson will have one more game against a non-BCS Division I school on October 20 when Central Michigan comes to Clemson.

Clemson vs. Sun Belt Teams
This will be Clemson's first game against Louisiana Monroe, but the Tigers are 2-0 against teams from the Sun Belt Conference. Both victories took place in the Tommy Bowden era. Last year the Tigers defeated Florida Atlantic 54-7 an in 2003 down Middle Tennessee State 37-14.

Tigers Look for Start 2-0
Clemson will be looking for a 2-0 start when the Tigers meet Louisiana-Monroe this weekend. Clemson last opened with a 2-0 record in 2005, the third time under Tommy Bowden that the Tigers have started 2-0. Historically, Clemson has struggled in the second game of the year and when the Tigers do start 2-0 it is usually the indicator of a strong season. Clemson has been 2-0 just 10 times since 1971 and the Tigers have gone on to have a 75 percent winning percentage in those 10 years.

Clemson Played Seven First-Year Freshmen in Opener
Clemson's 2007 freshman class was regarded as among the best at Clemson in many years and among the best in the nation according to many services. Seven first-year freshmen played in the opener against Florida State.

The list of first-year freshmen who played against Florida State included tight end Brian Linthicum, who caught an 11-yard touchdown pass for Clemson's first score of the season. He became the first Clemson first-year freshman to score in his first game since Bernard Rambert scored two touchdowns against Maryland in 1999 in his first game.

DeAndre McDaniel had six tackles and two pass deflections in the secondary in his first game, while Jarvis Jenkins contributed a sack on his first career series. Scotty Cooper, Chad Diehl, Xavier Dye and Marcus Gilchrist were the other first year freshmen to see action in the opener against the Seminoles.

In the last 26 years (including 2007), Clemson has played 147 first-year freshmen, an average of 5.6 per season. Sixty-two of the first-year freshmen who have played have been offensive players, while 81 have been defensive players and four have been kickers.

Since Tommy Bowden came to Clemson in 1999, the Tigers have played 49 first-year freshmen, 18 on offense, 29 on defense and two special teams. That is an average of 5.44 first-year freshman per year, so Bowden is a bit below the Clemson average for the last 26 years.

The record for first-year freshmen played in one season is 11 in 1985. That year Danny Ford played six first-year freshmen on offense and five on defense. The 1994 Clemson team under Tommy West played 10 first-year freshmen, including a record nine on offense.

The most wins for a Clemson team that has played at least eight first year freshmen is 10, set in 1989, a Clemson team that played eight first-year freshmen in a 10-2 season.

The most first-year freshmen Clemson has played in the Bowden era is nine, in 2001. That year Bowden played three on offense and six on defense on the way to a 7-5 season.

Clemson has played at least one first- year freshman for all 25 years of the rule. The fewest was the one used in 2002 (Justin Miller).

Clemson Has Five Straight Wins over Top 25 Teams
Clemson's 24-18 win over 19th ranked Florida State on Labor Day night was the fifth straight victory for the Tigers against a top 25 team. This is the first time since the 1988-89 era that Clemson has had five straight wins over top 25 teams and it is just the second time in history. The next time Clemson faces a top 25 team it will have a chance to establish a new school record for consecutive top 25 wins.

Clemson's streak of top 25 wins dates to November 12, 2005 when Clemson defeated a 16th ranked (USA Today) Florida State team at home. The next week the Tigers won at 19th ranked South Carolina. The Tigers then had two top 25 wins last year, a 27-20 win at ninth-ranked Florida State and a 31-7 win over 13th ranked Georgia Tech.

After a 3-14 record against top 25 teams to start his Clemson career, Bowden has now won 10 of his last 14 since 2003. Two of the losses against ranked teams since 2003 are in overtime. Clemson's win over Florida State was its 58th top 25 win in history, its 26th in Death Valley.

Bowden to Coach 100th Game at Clemson on Saturday
Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden will coach his 100th game with the school on Saturday when the Tigers play host to Louisiana- Monroe. Bowden has a 61-38 record for his first 99 games. His winning percentage is second best in Clemson history among coaches who have coached at least five years at the school. Only Danny Ford's .760 figure is better among coaches who have been at Clemson at least five years.

Bowden is now third in games coached with 99. Frank Howard coached 295 between 1940-69 and Danny Ford coached 129 between 1978-89. Bowden is also third in total wins, trailing only Howard (165) and Ford (129). Bowden is second in top 25 wins with 13, trailing only Ford's 20, and is tied for second in bowl wins with three.

Davis and Dawson Good Running Back Match-up
Fans will witness a good matchup of running backs in Saturday's game between Clemson and Louisiana Monroe. Clemson features a duo of runners with James Davis and C.J. Spiller, while Calvin Dawson will be the leader of Louisiana Monroe offense.

Davis and Dawson have very similar stats as you can see by the chart below. Both had 100-yard rushing games to open the season, Davis with 102 against Florida State and Dawson with 150 against Tulsa. Dawson has six straight 100-yard rushing games, the third longest streak in the nation behind Tashard Choice of Georgia Tech (8) and Ian Johnson of Boise State (7). Dawson has 10 overall 100-yard games to eight for Davis.

Dawson, a senior, is already fourth in LM history in career rushing, while Davis is 14th in Clemson history, but needs just 89 yards to reach 10th place.

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