Clemson - Virginia Notes

Clemson holds a commanding 34-6-1 lead in the series with Virginia, but the Cavaliers hold 6-5-1 advantage since 1990, including a 26-24 victory at Clemson last year. Clemson won the first 29 games of the series before Virginia cracked the win column with a 20-7 victory in Charlottesville in 1990.

Clemson vs. Virginia Series
Clemson holds a commanding 34-6-1 lead in the series with Virginia, but the Cavaliers hold 6-5-1 advantage since 1990, including a 26-24 victory at Clemson last year. Clemson won the first 29 games of the series before Virginia cracked the win column with a 20-7 victory in Charlottesville in 1990. Ironically, Clemson's first win in the history of the series (in 1955) was also by a 20-7 score.

Clemson's 29-game winning streak between 1955-90 is tied for the fourth longest winning streak in NCAA history for one team over another. The record is 38 in a row held by Notre Dame over Navy, a streak that is still active heading into the meeting between the two schools in Baltimore this year on November 9. Nebraska has a current streak of 33 wins in a row over Kansas, a streak that started in 1969. Oklahoma had a 32-game streak over Kansas State between 1937-68 and Nebraska had a 29-gamer against Kansas State between 1969-97.

Virginia has gained its most success against Clemson when the game has been in September, an example of the Cavaliers traditional good start to a season. Virginia has won five of its six games over the Tigers in the month of September, including last year's win in Death Valley on September 22, by a 26-24 score when Virginia scored with just one second left. Virginia is 5-1 against Clemson in the month of September since 1990, but just 1-4-1 in October and November since that year.

Overall, Clemson is 24-1-1 against Virginia in October and November, but just 10-5 against the Cavs in September. Virginia's only win over Clemson in October or November took place in 1997 when the Cavs won at Clemson 21-7 on October 11th.

Virginia has won at Clemson as many times as it has won in Charlottesville. Clemson is 18-3-1 against Virginia in Death Valley and 15-3 in Charlottesville. Clemson won in Richmond in 1971, 32-15, the only neutral site game in the history of the series.

The only tie in the series took place in 1991, a 20-20 score at Clemson. The Tigers had 511 yards of total offense in that game and did not win, the only game in Clemson history in which Clemson has picked up at least 500 yards, yet did not win the game.

Clemson is 2-1 against Virginia under Tommy Bowden. Bowden picked up his first win as a Clemson head coach in 1999 against George Welsh and the Cavaliers, 33-14 in a game at Clemson. Clemson led that game 33-0, 35 minutes into the game. In 2000 Woody Dantzler led the Tigers to victory with a dazzling performance. Dantzler rushed for 220 yards and passed for 154 leading Clemson to a 31-10 victory. Virginia won on a touchdown with one second left last year, 26-24.

The two teams have been ACC rivals since that first meeting in 1955, but the two teams have not played every year since the league was formed in 1953. The two teams did not play in 1961, 1962, 1967, 1968, 1975, and 1976.

Clemson Has Come Back Against Virginia
Clemson has come back from a deficit of 13 points or more to win seven times in its history and four of the victories have come against Virginia. Two of those wins have taken place in Charlottesville and two in Clemson.

Clemson's greatest comeback in history took place at Virginia in 1992 when it overcame a 28-0 deficit with 32 minutes left to win 29-28. Louis Solomon, now a high school coach in New Jersey, led that comeback with an option offense. His 64-yard run just before halftime gave Clemson some momentum going into the locker room at halftime. Nelson Welch booted a 32-yard field goal with 55 seconds left to provide the winning margin. Virginia was undefeated and ranked 10th in the nation heading into that game. That remains the greatest comeback in ACC history involving two conference teams.

Clemson's greatest comeback in Death Valley also took place against Virginia. Clemson trailed Virginia by 17 points at home in 1966, but came back to win 40-35. That was the first game that Howard's Rock was present in Death Valley. Coincidence?

Clemson also overcame a 14-point deficit to Virginia in 1980 to win 27-24 in Charlottesville. Bill Smith, now on the Clemson Board of Trustees, returned a block punt for a touchdown to provide a key play in the comeback.

Obed Ariri then booted a 52-yard field goal with six seconds left to win the game. During a timeout when Virginia tried to ice Ariri, he carried on a conversation with the Virginia team. After he booted the game winner Ariri was asked if he felt any pressure. A member of Nigeria's National Soccer team as a youth, Ariri replied, "Pressure?... there was no pressure. Pressure is playing for your country in front of 120,000 soccer fans in a foreign country." Clemson also overcame a 13-point deficit in 1973 to win 32-27.

Clemson Has Been Successful in Charlottesville
Clemson has a 15-3 record against Virginia in Charlottesville. Clemson won the first 12 games played between the two teams in Charlottesville, including the 20-7 victory in 1955, the first game in the history of the series. Clemson won the first 12 games played between the two teams in Charlottesville. Herman Moore and Shawn Moore led Virginia to victory 20-7 over Clemson in 1990, Ken Hatfield's first year. That Clemson team went on to a 10-2 record and final top 10 ranking. Virginia went to the Sugar Bowl that season and also won 10 games.

Clemson's other losses in Charlottesville came in 1994 and 1998, Clemson teams that ended the season with losing records. The 1994 team was Tommy West's first Clemson team and finished 5-6. That was the 1000th ACC game in the history of the league and Virginia won 9-6. Clemson forced seven turnovers, yet lost the game. Virginia also won in 1998, by a 20-18 score. Clemson finished that year, 3-8, Tommy West's final year as head coach.

Thus, Clemson has lost just three games by a total of 18 points in its previous 18 games played in Charlottesville. Unranked Clemson teams have upset top 15 Virginia teams twice in the last 10 years. In 1992 Clemson defeated a top 10 Virginia team and in 1996 Clemson won 24-16 over a 15th ranked Virginia team.

Hamilton All-Purpose Performer
The all-purpose running statistic was made for Derrick Hamilton. The sophomore from Dillon, SC has averaged 168.4 all-purpose running yards/game this year and has been especially effective in the last three games. He had 256 all-purpose yard against Georgia Tech on September 14, then followed that with 160 yards against Ball State. He added 248 yards at Florida State last Thursday night. As you can see by the chart below, he has had two of the top eight all-purpose running games in Clemson history over the last three weeks.

For the year, Hamilton has 174 yards rushing, second on the Clemson team, has 157 yards receiving, third on the Clemson team, has 320 yards in kickoff returns and 191 yards on punt returns. He leads the Clemson team in both return areas. Last year Hamilton finished third in the nation in kickoff return average and was the ACC champion in that category. Thus, Hamilton has at last 150 yards in all four categories already this year.

His current average of 168.4 yards per game is 20 yards per game ahead of the Clemson record of 148.5 yards per game set by Tony Horne in 1997.

Hamilton has been very effective when it comes to rushing. He has 14 rushes on reverses from his H-receiver position and has 174 yards, a 12.4 yards per carry figure. No Clemson rusher has ever averaged over 10 yards per carry given a minimum of 15 rushes for the course of a season. Five of his 14 carries have been for at least 10 carries, including a 77-yarder against Georgia Tech.

Entering the Virginia game Hamilton ranks ninth in the nation and first in the ACC in all-purpose yards per game. Horne ranked 14th in the nation in 1997, the highest final ranking for any Clemson player in history.

Hunt Needs 2 PATs for Career Record
Aaron Hunt established a career best for field goals in a game with four in the win over Louisiana Tech. The junior from Tennessee was 4-4 in the game and scored 15 of Clemson's 33 points. He became the first Clemson player to record four field goals in a game since 1998 when David Richardson had four in the season opener. Hunt's day included a 47-yard field goal, second longest boot of his career.

Hunt had field goals of 47, 22, 37 and 38 yards, distances that total to 144 yards. That was the seventh most yards on made field goals in a single game in Clemson history.

Hunt was 10-12 last year on field goals and is now 7-10 this year. He ranks 24th in the nation in field gals per game entering the Virginia game. He is also fifth in the ACC in overall scoring with 7.6 points per game.

Hunt has already moved into the top 10 in Clemson history in scoring. The junior has 106 extra points and 27 field goals for 187 total points. He needs six points to move ahead of Fred Cone and Lester Brown to move into seventh place.

Hunt is also just two extra points from becoming Clemson's career leader in that category, quite an accomplishment for a junior and a fact that gives testimony to Clemson's offense under Tommy Bowden. Bob Paulling holds the record with 107 and Hunt's 106 is second. Hunt is already just the second player in school history to reach 100 extra points in a career.

Simmons Has made Weekly Improvement
Clemson quarterback Willie Simmons has made improvement each week during the 2002 season. The chart below shows that his passing efficiency has improved each of the last four games, hitting a high of 163.8 at Florida State in the most recent game. He has completed at least 63 percent of his passes each of the last two weeks and at least 58 percent for four games in a row. He is 52 of his last 83 passes for 728 yards, an average of 242 yards per game over three contests.

He had his best all-around game as a Clemson quarterback at Florida State. Playing in front of his mother and 50 other friends, the native of Quincy, FL completed 17-27 passes for 293 yards and two scores. The yardage total was a career high, as was his 11 yards per attempt. Simmons also had a career high 50 yards rushing in 13 attempts, giving him 343 yards of total offense, the eighth highest single total in Clemson history. Only Woodrow Dantzler, Bobby Gage and Brandon Streeter have had higher figures for a single game.

Simmons set a school record for pass completions and attempts by an individual in a Clemson victory when Clemson defeated Louisiana Tech in the second game of the season. He completed 25-43 passes in that game for 242 yards. The Clemson team threw 44 passes in the game and it was just the second time Clemson had thrown 40 or more passes in a game and gained victory in the process. Clemson was 1-16 prior to the Louisiana Tech game when throwing at least 40 passes. The only other victory came at Wake Forest in 1999.

Simmons 25 completions against Louisiana Tech rank in a tie for fourth in Clemson history for a single game. The record is 27 set by Brandon Streeter against NC State in 1998 and at Virginia Tech in 1999. Simmons 43 attempts was tied for fifth highest, most ever in a Clemson victory. It was the most pass attempts by an individual without an interception in school history.

For the season, Simmons has completed 94-163 passes for 1064 yards and six scores. He is on pace to throw for over 2500 yards this season, something only Dantzler has done in Clemson history for a single season. Dantzler threw for 2578 last year, an average of 214 per game for a season. He has now completed 57.7 percent of his passes for the season and averages 212.8 yards per game threw the air.

Simmons is now fourth in the ACC in total offense and fourth in passing yards per game.

Clemson Offense Making Weekly Improvement
Clemson has averaged 359 yards per game so far this year, far below the 432 per game last year. But, the 2002 Tigers have shown improvement each week offensively, and we have the stats to back it up. A look to the chart below shows that first year starter, but graduate student Willie Simmons is becoming more and more confident in running the Clemson attack. Clemson has made improvement four games in a row in terms of total offense, passing efficiency and yards per play.

The Tigers recorded a season high 441 yards of total offense against Florida State thanks to a season high 334 yards passing. That passing yardage total was the fifth highest in Clemson history, the second best under Bowden. The record is 364 against Duke in 1963, and the best under Bowden is 343 against Virginia in 1999.

Clemson has also improved every week this season in passing efficiency. The team had a season best 173.8 figure against Florida State. Yards per play is a third area where Clemson has improved each week. Clemson averaged just 3.3 per game at Georgia, but had a 7.2 figure at Florida State, best ever for a Clemson team in a loss. This is the first time Clemson has improved its total offense total four straight weeks since 1983.

Tigers Recover On-Side Kick
Whenever the Bowden's get together chances are there will be some trickery involved. Tommy Bowden might have pulled off the most surprising play in the four Bowden Bowls when he had his team on-side kick after the Tigers first score, Clemson's first kickoff opportunity, in the first quarter. Stephen Furr and J.J. McKelvey had been practicing the play all week and they worked it to perfection, giving Clemson the ball after the Tigers had tied the game at seven.

"The thing about that is you can't practice it in pregame," said Bowden the next day. "Rodney Allison had noticed in his film study that the player on that side of the field was retreating early to get into blocking position, so we decided to try it."

McKelvey recovered at the Florida State 49 and Clemson drove for another touchdown, giving Clemson a 14-7 lead, its first lead in Tallahassee at any point of a game since 1989.

What was especially noteworthy is that the on-side kick was the first recovered by a Clemson team since the 1979 season. The Tigers last recovered an on-side kick in the fourth period of the 1979 Peach Bowl against Baylor. Clemson did not score on its extra possession that day and lost 24-19.

Tigers Average 7.2 Yards/Play...And Lose Clemson gained 441 yards against Florida State in just 61 plays, an average of 7.23 yards per play. That was the highest yards per play average in Clemson history in a game the Tigers lost. The previous record was a 6.78 figure in a 28-25 loss to Maryland in 1959. In that game Clemson had 434 yards in 64 plays. Clemson had won 33 in a row when averaging at least 6.5 yards per play dating to the 1975 season when Clemson averaged 6.61 yards per play in a 25-21 loss to Duke.

How do you lose a game in which you averaged 7.2 yards per play on offense? Clemson struggled on special teams, losing a fumble on a punt return and a kickoff return, and dropping a perfect snap in punt formation. All gave Florida State scoring chances. Clemson had outscored the opposition 41-10 through the first four games in terms of points off turnovers, then was outscored 17-0 in that area at Florida State.

Elliott Making Big Contribution
Walk-on senior Tony Elliott continues to make a big impact on the Clemson offense on a weekly basis. He is one of three Clemson receivers to catch at least one pass in every game this year and he actually has a six-game streak dating to last year's Humanitarian Bowl against Louisiana Tech. For the season, Elliott has seven catches for 128 yards, fourth on the team in yardage and tied for fourth in catches.

He has made many big plays, and has four catches for at least 20 yards, second on the team behind J.J. McKelvey's five. Elliott's 18.3 yards per reception leads the team. He scored his first touchdown as a Tiger on a 44-yard touchdown reception against Georgia Tech, a key play in Clemson's five-point victory.

Against Florida State he was at it again. A quarterback as a sophomore in high school at James Island High in Charleston, Elliott completed a 41-yard pass to McKelvey on an end-around play. It set up a Clemson field goal, giving Clemson a 17-14 lead at the time.

Elliott began his career at Air Force Prep School in Colorado, but transferred to Clemson in January of 1999. He has overcome much hardship. When he was nine years old his mother was killed in front of his eyes in an auto accident when their car was struck by a drunk driver.

Hall Over 100 Receiving Yards at Tight End Tight end Ben Hall had his top game as a Clemson player at Florida State with three catches for 69 yards. He did not score a touchdown, which he has done three times previously in his career, but the yardage total was a career high.

Hall now has eight catches for 112 yards this year, fourth on the team in receptions and fifth in yardage. The sophomore had eight catches for 79 yards and three scores all of last year. Hall is the first Clemson tight end to have over 100 yards receiving in a season since Pat Cyrgalis had 12-152 in 1999.

Clemson tight ends have been more involved in the offense since Brad Scott came to Clemson with Tommy Bowden in 1999. Clemson tight ends have caught eight touchdown passes the last four years (including one this year by Bobby Williamson). Clemson went nine years without a tight end catching a scoring pass between 1990-98.

Clemson does have a good tradition of tight ends. Bennie Cunningham was a two-time All-American in 1974-75 and was the only tight end named to the ACC's 50-year Anniversary team. Jim Riggs was a two-time All-ACC player in 1985-86 and played in the Super Bowl with the Cincinnati Bengals. Lamont Hall is currently with the New Orleans Saints, his fifth year in the NFL after player for Clemson from 1994-97.

Defensive Linemen Getting Pressure
One area of improvement for the Tigers and a reason Clemson has improved to 12th in the nation in total defense is the pressure Clemson is getting on the quarterback from the starting front four. The group of Nick Eason, Donnell Washington, Khaleed Vaughn and Bryant McNeal has recorded 11 of Clemson's 15 sacks through five games. The foursome also has 28 quarterback pressures.

Last year Clemson had just 27 sacks and the starting front four linemen recorded just 15 sacks overall. The group was credited with 53 quarterback pressures for the 12 games in 2001. The pressure provided by the front four is a big reason the Tiger s are 11th in the nation in pass defense and 12th in total defense entering the Virginia game.

That pass defense and rush will be challenged this week when Clemson travels to Virginia. Virginia quarterback Matt Schaub is ranked fourth in the nation in passing efficiency with a 161.1 figure. Schaub is third in the ACC in total offense, second in passing efficiency and third in passing yards per game (219.8).

Last year vs. Virginia
Virginia Cavaliers 26
Clemson Tigers 24

Billy McMullen made a leaping reception in the Clemson end zone with one second remaining to give Virginia a 26-24 upset victory in Death Valley on September 22nd. The Cavaliers' win was their first over the Tigers since 1998.

Virginia managed to escape with a win despite a strong offensive performance from Woodrow Dantzler and the Tigers. The Clemson graduate completed 25 of 34 passes for 251 yards. His 25 completions were a new career high, breaking his previous mark of 23 that he set against NC State in 1999. His mark also fell just two completions short of the school record of 27, set by Brandon Streeter in 1999.

Clemson accumulated 29 first downs in the game, just the second time in school history that Clemson has had that many first downs yet lost the game. The Tigers gained 433 yards of total offense and controlled the clock for over 35 minutes, yet lost.

Dantzler helped ignite the Tiger offense in the first quarter, going 4-for-4 for 44 yards on a scoring drive capped off by Terrance Huey's 16-yard "Panther Play" touchdown run that made the score 7-0 Clemson. Huey took a handoff through his legs from quarterback Woodrow Dantzler stood still for a split second, then raced the 16 yards for the score. It was not only his first career carry, it was his first career offensive play.

After Aaron Hunt kicked a 45-yard field goal with 14:09 remaining before half time to give Clemson a 10-0 lead, Virginia's David Greene countered with two field goals of 30 and 31 yards. Capping off drives of 14 and 10 plays, respectively, Greene's efforts cut Clemson's lead to four at the half.

With Clemson's defense reeling from injuries to Nick Eason (just five plays all day) and Eric Meekins, the Cavaliers jumped out to a 10-point lead behind two third-period touchdowns.. Quarterback Bryson Spinner's 6-yard touchdown run following a Dantzler interception made the score 13-10, and Spinner's 14-yard pass to McMullen with 8:24 remaining in the third quarter finished off an eight play, 52-yard drive that gave Virginia a 20-10 lead.

Clemson's offense responded on its next two possessions. Dantzler led the way on a 16-play, 80-yard scoring drive as he completed 7-7 passes for 61 yards on the drive. His one-yard run cut the Virginia lead to 20-17. On the next possession following a Virginia punt, Dantzler would complete two more passes before scrambling for an 18-yard run down to the Virginia 13-yard line. Travis Zachery's two-yard touchdown run capped off a seven play, 59-yard drive that gave Clemson a 24-20 lead.

When Clemson regained possession with 10:05 remaining, the re-juvenated offense seemed poised to put the Cavaliers out of reach. The Tigers were 3-3 on third-down conversions on the drive, but the march was abruptly stalled at the Virginia 31-yard line. Linebacker Almondo Curry's sack of Dantzler forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive end Larry Simmons.

The Tiger defensive effort, led by Charles Hafley with 16 tackles and an interception, was able to contain the Cavaliers. A Donnell Washington sack was big in forcing Virginia to punt.

The Cavaliers pinned Clemson at their own four. After the Tigers went three and out, Virginia took over the ball at the Clemson 44 with 1:44 remaining. Billy McMullen (eight catches, 88 yards, 2 TD) caught three passes for 29 yards on the Cavalier drive, which included a 17-yard reception off a fullback option pass from Tyree Foreman. Three plays later McMullen made his catch with just one second left on the clock.

Running Game Key to Success under Bowden How important is the running game to Clemson under Tommy Bowden? The Tigers are 16-1 under Bowden when the Tigers rush for at least 200 yards. That stat was enhanced in the Ball State game when the Tigers gained 203 rushing in the victory over Ball State.Clemson has won 13 straight when rushing for at least 200 yards dating to the 1999 Georgia Tech game when the Tigers rushed for 231 yards, yet lost the contest, 45-42.

Clemson is 23-4 under Bowden when the Tigers win the rushing yardage stat. That includes a perfect 3-0 record this year. Clemson is also 14-3 under Bowden when it has a 100-yard rusher. Clemson is yet to have a 100-yard rusher this year, but has come close with Yusef Kelly gaining 97 and 99 yards rushing in two games this year.

200 of Each Means Clemson Victory
Balance is obviously a hallmark of any successful offense. That has been the case for Clemson over the years and under Tommy Bowden. In its 1025-game history, Clemson has a 39-0-1 record when it has at least 200 yards passing and 200 yards rushing in the same game. The undefeated streak continued in Clemson's most recent game when the Tigers had 209 passing and 203 rushing in the 30-7 win over Ball State.

That marked the 13th time in Tommy Bowden's 41 games as Clemson coach that the Tigers had at least 200 of each. Clemson did it just 27 times in 985 games prior to his arrival. The only time Clemson did not win when it gained at least 200 of each was at Georgia Tech in 1976 when the two teams played to a 24-24 tie.

McKelvey/Youngblood One-two Receiving Punch Clemson receivers J.J. McKelvey and Kevin Youngblood have become quite a one-two punch among Clemson receivers so far this year. The tall duo has combined for 46 receptions in five games, nearly 10 catches per game, for 520 yards. Both players give quarterback Willie Simmons a big target, as McKelvey is 6-4 and Youngblood a 6-5 player.

Both have had career high performances of 10 catches in a game this year, the high reception total for an ACC player this year. This is the first time in Clemson history that two players on the same team have had at least 10 receptions in a game. They are just the seventh and eighth players in Clemson history to catch 10 passes in a single game.

McKelvey had 10 catches for 123 yards and a score in the win over Ball State on the 21st of September. Youngblood had his breakout game against Louisiana Tech with 10 catches for 85 yards. Both are in the top 10 in the ACC in receptions per game. Youngblood is among the top 30 in the nation on a per game basis.

The list of other Clemson receivers who have accumulate at least 10 catches in a game includes current Washington Redskins firs-round pick Rod Gardner, who did it three times, Tony Horne, who was a Super Bowl Champion with the St. Louis Rams three years ago, Perry Tuttle, a first-round pick off of Clemson's National Championship team of 1981, and Charlie Waters, one of the all-time greats in Dallas Cowboys history as a defensive back.

McKelvey added another 100-yard game at Florida State when he had 5-117 at Florida State. Thus, McKelvey has 15-240 yards over the last two games. He is the first Tiger to have consecutive 100-yard receiving games since Rod Gardner did it in 2000.

It is interesting to note that five of the 12 double figure reception games in Clemson history have come under Tommy Bowden.

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