Clemson - Wake Forest News & Notes

Clemson enters this weekend's homecoming game with a 3-3 record. To those who have been around the program a few years, this year has brought back memories of the 1995 Clemson season. Tiger fans hope that this season turns out like the 1995 regular season did.

Game Seven: Wake Forest at Clemson

Saturday, October 19, 2002
3:30 PM (EST)
Memorial Stadium
Clemson, SC

Television: ABC
Play By Play: Tim Brandt
Color: Ed Cunningham
Sideline: Sam Ryan-Herbst
Replay Network: CSS
Matt Hogue and Will Merritt

Radio: Clemson Tiger Sports Properties
Play By Play: Jim Phillips
Color: Rodney Williams
Sideline: Pete Yanity

Series History: Clemson leads 52-14-1

Tigers Hope History Repeats
Clemson enters this weekend's homecoming game with a 3-3 record. To those who have been around the program a few years, this year has brought back memories of the 1995 Clemson season. Tiger fans hope that this season turns out like the 1995 regular season did.

That year Clemson opened with a 3-3 record in the first half of the season, losses to Virginia, Georgia and Florida State, the same three teams that have beaten Clemson through six games this year. The margins were even similar in two of the games. In 1995 Clemson lost to Florida State by 19 points, this year the margin was 17. Georgia beat the Tigers by two points in 1995 and by three points this year.

The chart below shows many other similarities. The 1995 team was winning the total offense margin by 47 yards per game through six contests, similar to the way Clemson has won the total offensive margin this year by 85 yards per game. Clemson had 21 touchdowns through six games in 1995 and 20 so far this year. Turnovers committed are identical, 14 each season at this point. The starting quarterbacks, Nealon Greene in 1995 and Willie Simmons this year, had nearly identical completion percentages.

Tiger fans hope the similarities continue. That 1995 team overcame the 3-3 start and ran the table over the last five regular season games to finish 8-3 and earn a bid to the Gator Bowl.

Clemson Has Played 7th Toughest Schedule Clemson has a 3-3 record against a schedule ranked as the seventh most difficult in the nation by the Jeff Sagarin computer poll, a rating published by USA Today. Sagarin is one of the computer rankings used by the BCS standings. The Tigers are ranked 34th overall in that ranking, ironically one spot ahead of Virginia.

Clemson has losses to two top 15 teams so far this year, an undefeated Georgia team and a 5-2 Florida State team that lost by a point to number-one ranked Miami (FL) last weekend. Florida State is ranked second in the Sagarin schedule rankings and fourth overall, the only team in the nation ranked in the top 10 in both areas.

Clemson's highest schedule ranking in the history of the Sagarin poll is a #7 rating in 1999, Tommy Bowden's first year as head coach. Clemson was 6-6 that year, but still had a final top 25 ranking (24th) according to Sagarin's computer rankings. Clemson's highest overall final ranking by Sagarin is #15 in 2000.

Clemson's Defense, You Gotta Lovett
Clemson is most improved when it comes to defense. The Tigers are ranked first in the ACC in total defense, allowing just 282 yards per game, and that figure ranks 10th in the nation. Clemson has allowed just 165 yards per game passing, 14th best in the nation. Last year Clemson ranked 71st in the nation in total defense and 66th in pass defense. Clemson is 37th in rushing defense, up from 69th in the nation last year.

While Clemson gave up 48 points to Florida State and 31 to Georgia, mistakes on special teams had a lot to do with those totals. Each team scored against Clemson on a kickoff return and six of the eight touchdown drives the opposition took over in Clemson territory. In 11 possessions in which Georgia and Florida State took over at their own 40 or worse, they combined to drive for a touchdown just twice, once by each team. One other drive (Florida State) the opposition drove for a field goal.

Clemson allowed just 293 yards of total offense to the Louisiana Tech, the second straight game the opposition failed to reach the 300-yard mark. Clemson had allowed the opposition at least 300 yards in 17 straight games heading into the 2002 season.

Clemson has now given up just 1693 yards of total offense in five games, an average of 282 yards per game. Clemson allowed 395 yards a game last year, so it is easy to see the 282 figure for the first six games this year is considerably better. Clemson has allowed just 4.2 yards per play, much improved from the 5.3 allowed per play a year ago.

Many of the times the opposition has scored it has been the result of difficult field position after a turnover or a long kick return. Over the first six games the opposition has taken possession of the ball at their own 38 or worse 48 times. They have driven for a touchdown just six times in those 49 possessions. The defense had a streak of 18 straight possessions without yielding a touchdown in that situation broken in the Georgia Tech game.

What is especially encouraging to Clemson coaches is that Clemson has achieved these numbers against teams that are solid on offense. Georgia has eight offensive starters returning from a team that averaged 432 yards a game last year, but got just 203 yards against Clemson. Louisiana Tech averaged over 400 yards and 30 points a game last year, but got just 13 points and 293 yards against Clemson. Florida State ranks first in the ACC in total offense and is in the top 20 in the nation.

Clemson Successful on Homecoming
Over the years Clemson has had great success on homecoming and Tiger fans hope that continues today. The first homecoming game at Clemson was in 1922, a 21-0 loss to Centre. Clemson was 0-4-1 through its first five homecoming games, so it is almost surprising that the tradition continued. But, Clemson defeated Auburn in 1927 by a 3-0 score for its first homecoming victory.

There is no record of a homecoming game in 1930 or 1938, but the event has been held in conjunction with a football game every year since 1939, even through the war years. Clemson has a 56-19-3 overall on homecoming games, a .737 winning percentage.

The Tigers are 26-3-2 on homecoming since the 1971 season. The only three losses have been to Georgia Tech in 1989, Virginia in 1997 and last year to North Carolina. Clemson has played Wake Forest for homecoming 12 times and the Tigers have a 10-2 record in those games. However, this is just the second time since 1975 that Wake Forest has been Clemson's opponent on homecoming. The only other occasion was in 1994, a 24-8 Clemson victory in Tommy West's first year.

Clemson vs. Wake Forest Series
*Clemson owns 52 wins over Wake Forest in history, its second highest victory total over any opponent. Clemson has 59 wins over South Carolina.

*Clemson leads the series 52-14-1 overall, including a 29-7 record in games played at Clemson and a 25-7 mark in games played in Death Valley.

*Clemson has won three in a row and seven out of eight against Wake Forest dating to 1994. The Demon Deacons won back-to-back games in 1992-93, the only time Wake Forest has won consecutive contests against Clemson since 1946-47.

*Clemson has a 3-0 record against Wake Forest under Tommy Bowden. The Tigers have outscored Wake Forest 88-24 in the three games.

*Wake Forest has scored more than 20 points against Clemson just once in the last 13 years, the Deacs 29-19 win at Clemson in 1998. Clemson won last year at Wake Forest 21-14 and the Tigers won the last time Wake Forest came to Clemson by a 55-7 score.

*The Clemson vs. Wake Forest series dates to 1933, a 13-0 Clemson win in Charlotte.

*Clemson won 15 games in a row in the series from 1977-91.

*Wake Forest enters this game with a better record than Clemson (4-3 to 3-3). You only have to go back to 1999 to find the last time that has happened. In 1999 Wake Forest entered the game at Winston-Salem with a 4-3 record, while Clemson was 3-4.

*The two teams have played at three neutral sites in history, including Tokyo, Japan. Clemson won that game in 1982 by a 21-17 score to close out an ACC Championship season.

Wake Forest Update
Wake Forest is off to a 4-3 start and the Deacons come into this game riding a two-game winning streak. That includes a 36-10 victory over Duke in its most recent game at Wake Forest's homecoming. That game was typical for Wake Forest in that they make the most of their opportunities, especially on defense and special teams. The Deacs gained just 224 yards of total offense against Duke, yet scored 36 points. Their scoring included a 90-yard missed field goal return and a 29-yard interception return. Wake Forest won the second half 22-0.

Coach Jim Grobe's team is living testimony to the importance of turnover margin in football. Wake Forest has averaged 383.3 yards per game on offense and given up 383.0 per game on defense. But, the Deacons have forced 22 turnovers and committed just five, a +17 turnover margin. Wake Forest is second in the nation in turnover margin per game.

Wake Forest likes to keep the ball on the ground and as a result they lead the ACC in rushing yards per game with 233.4 yards per game. They have accomplished that with a balanced attack as no Wake Forest back has averaged at least 55 yards per game and no Deacon back is in the top six in the ACC in rushing yards per game. Nick Burney is the top rusher with 375 yards in seven games, 53.6 yards per game. Tarence Williams is a senior who has missed much of the year with an injury, but he was a second-team All-ACC back last year when he had over 1000 yards. He is healthy now and had 14 carries last week against Duke.

Wake Forest is last in the league in passing, but quarterback James MacPherson has run the offensive efficiently. He has not thrown an interception in 133 passes and has completed 55.6 percent of his passes. His favorite receiver is Fabian Davis, who has 27 catches for 387 yards. Davis is second to Clemson's Derrick Hamilton in all-purpose running with 156 yards per game. Like Hamilton he returns punts and kickoffs in addition to his duties as a receiver.

Wake Forest has had a dominant player on defense in Calvin Pace. The senior has 16 tackles for loss and six quarterback sacks to rank among the ACC leaders. He is the team's top tackler with 53 stops in the seven games. He had an incredible six tackles for loss in the win over Duke.

Clemson Veterans vs. Wake Forest
* Altroy Bodrick (LB)-Had eight tackles and two tackles for loss in win at Wake Forest in 1999. Added season high 10 tackles and a sack against the Deacons in 2000.

* Nick Eason (DT)-Has played three games, two as a starter against Wake Forest. Had four tackles, including a sack in 2000 and had five tackles in 48 snaps in 2001.

* Ben Hall (TE)-Had three catches for 17 yards, including a touchdown at Wake Forest in 2001.

* Derrick Hamilton (WR)-Ha six catches for 91 yards and a score at Wake Forest in 2001.

* Aaron Hunt (PK)-Had seven extra points and a field goal in Clemson's win in 2000. Had 3-3 PATs at Wake Forest last year.

* Chad Jasmin (RB)-Had five carries for 25 yards in Clemson's win in 2001.

* Yusef Kelly (RB)-Red-shirted last year, but in 2000 had 16-93, his season high in terms of rushing yards.

* Wynn Kopp (P)-Had 40.0 average on four punts at Wake Forest in 2001.

* Brian Mance (CB)-Had three tackles in 39 snaps against Wake Forest in 2000, then had three tackles in 80 plays and added a PBU at Wake Forest in 2001.

* Bryant McNeal (DE)-Had three tackles, including a sack at Wake Forest in 1999. Had four tackles as a reserve in 2000 and a career high 11 tackles, including a sack in 2001.

* Eric Meekins (SS)-Had career high 13 tackles at Wake Forest in 2001.

* Bernard Rambert (RB)-Had 6-46 in 2000 against the Deacs and had 3-8 last year as a reserve.

* Jackie Robinson-had 3-31 receiving against Wake Forest in 2000.
* Eric Sampson (LB)-Had a career high 14 tackles when he came on for an injured John Leake in 2001.

* Willie Simmons (QB)-Had 1-2 for 30 yards and a touchdown against Wake Forest in 2000.

* Rodney Thomas (LB)-Had career high 16 tackles at Wake Forest in 2001.

* Donnell Washington (DT)-Had four tackles, including a tackle for loss at Wake Forest in 2001.

* Kevin Youngblood (WR)-Caught his first career touchdown pass, a 30-yarder from Willie Simmons, in the win over the Deacs in 2000.

Clemson Completion Percentage at Record Rate
Clemson is completing passes at a near 61 percent rate, a record pace. Clemson has completed 123 of 202 passes so far this season for a .609 rate. That is ahead of the .605 pace set by the 1997 Clemson team that was led by current Canadian Football league star Nealon Greene. The only other Clemson team to complete 60 percent over the course of the season is the 1989 Tiger team that was 117-195, exactly 60 percent.

Starting quarterback Willie Simmons has completed 58 percent of his passes so far this year on 109-188. He has thrown for 1199 yards and seven scores, an average of almost 200 yards per game. Clemson's reserves have had an impact on the percentage as Tony Elliott, Charlie Whitehurst and Jeff Scott are a combined 14-14 this season, including 11-11 by Whitehurst. The freshman is still six consecutive completions away from Nealon Greene's record of 17 straight completions during the 1997 season.

Clemson Converting Before Halftime
Clemson has done a good job of scoring just prior to the half in 2002. So far this year Clemson has recorded a touchdown on its last possession of the half with 80 seconds or less remaining in five of the six games. The streak started when Clemson scored at Georgia on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Willie Simmons to Kevin Youngblood with just eight seconds left. The Tigers failed to do it against Louisiana Tech, but have now done so the last four games. The streak continued last week when Tye Hill scored his first career touchdown on a 32-yard run with just a minute left in the first half. Brian Mance had set up the score with an interception.

Mance Now Has Nine Career Interceptions
Brian Mance recorded his third interception of the season and his ninth as a Clemson Tiger at Virginia. The play came just before halftime and led directly to a Clemson touchdown with just a minute left in the half.

Mance's nine career interceptions are best among active Tigers and his 10 total takeaways are also best among the active players. He is now ranked in a tie for 15th in Clemson history and one more will move him into the top 10. The senior from Alcolu, SC has now played 41 games at Clemson, 20 as a starter. He has missed just one game in his career when he brother was killed in auto accident last year after the NC State game. Tuesday, October 22nd will be his 21st birthday.

For the season, Mance hs 34 tackles to rank four the on the team. He has played more snaps than any other Tiger with 363 and he also leads the team in passes defensed with eight. Twenty-seven of his 34 tackles have been individual hits.

Tigers Average 6.4 Yards/Play...but 0-2 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.

Clemson followed that up with a 5.6 average at Virginia, yet lost the game. Over the last two games Clemson has gained 853 yards in 139 plays, an average of 6.4 yards per play. But, Clemson does not have a victory to show for it. The Tigers had 25 first downs at Virginia and held the Cavaliers to 80 yards rushing 40 attempts. Additionally, Clemson had a pair of drives of at least 92 yards, the first time in history Clemson has had a pair of 90 yards in the same game. But, Virginia came away with the victory.

Clemson Leads ACC in Total Defense
Clemson is most improved when it comes to defense. The Tigers are ranked first in the ACC in total defense, allowing just 282.2 yards per game, and that figure ranks 10th in the nation. Clemson has allowed just 165.2 yards per game passing, 14th best in the nation. Last year Clemson ranked 71st in the nation in total defense and 66th in pass defense.

Clemson allowed 395 yards a game last year, so it is easy to see the 282 figure for the first six games this year is considerably better. Clemson has allowed just 4.2 yards per play, much improved from the 5.3 allowed per play a year ago.

Many of the times the opposition has scored it has been the result of difficult field position after a turnover or a long kick return. Over the first six games the opposition has taken possession of the ball at their own 38 or worse 49 times. They have driven for a touchdown just six times in those 49 possessions.

Hamilton All-Purpose Performer
The all-purpose running statistic was made for Derrick Hamilton. The sophomore from Dillon, SC has averaged 174.7 all-purpose running yards/game this year and has been especially effective in the last four 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 and followed that with a 206-yard game at Virginia. 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 177 yards rushing, second on the Clemson team, has 238 yards receiving, third on the Clemson team, has 427 yards in kickoff returns and 206 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 175 yards in all four categories already this year.

His current average of 174.7 yards per game is 26 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 15 rushes on reverses from his H-receiver position and has 177 yards, a 11.8 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 15 carries have been for at least 10 carries, including a 77-yarder against Georgia Tech.

Entering the Wake Forest game Hamilton ranks eighth 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 Sets Clemson Record
Aaron Hunt established a Clemson record for extra points in a career when he booted two against Virginia. The junior now has 108 in 112 chances in his career. He went ahead of the 107 career extra points by Bob Paulling, who played for the Tigers from 1979-83.

Hunt scored five points in that game and now has 192 for his career, the same total Lester Brown had in his four years as a Clemson running back. Hunt has now made 28-39 field goals, including 8-11 this year. He ranks 23rd in the nation in field goals per game and is 60th in scoring.

Hunt made 4-4 field goals in the win over Louisiana Tech. 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.

Simmons On Record Rate for Completions
Clemson quarterback Willie Simmons has averaged 18.2 completions per game, ahead of Woody Dantzler's record of 16.9 completions per game set last yaer. Simmons has completed 109 of 188 passes so far this year for 1199 yards and six scores. He has a 58.0 completion percentage, a figure that would be fourth best in Clemson history given a minimum of 100 completions. The record is .631 by Brandon Streeter in 1999.

Simmons had made improvement each week during the 2002 season prior to the Virginia game. He completed 15-25 passes for 135 yards against the Cavaliers, his first decline from the previous week all season.

The chart below shows that his passing efficiency improved every game from game's 1-5, hitting a high of 163.8 at Florida State in the most recent game. He has completed at least 58 percent of his passes each of the last five games and at least 60 percent in three straight. He is 67 of his last 108 passes for 863 yards, a .621 completion percent over his last four games.

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 2400 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.

Clemson Offense Making Weekly Improvement
Clemson has averaged 367 yards per game so far this year, far below the 432 per game last year. But, the 2002 Tigers have shown improvement over the course of the season. In fact, Clemson improved its total offense figure four games in a row between weeks 1-5, then still had 412 yards at Virginia in the sixth game of the season. Clemson improved its total offense, passing efficiency and yards per play four straight from games 1-5, the first time that has happened in four straight games since 1983.

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 th 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 vs. Wake Forest in 2001
Clemson 21, Wake Forest 14
Clemson's defense forced a season high three turnovers and Woodrow Dantzler gained 330 yards of total offense to lead the Tigers to a 21-14 victory at Wake Forest on October 27, 2001. Clemson's defense forced two turnovers with the game on the line inside the last seven minutes to preserve the win.

Chad Carson led the Clemson defense with 23 tackles, the third highest single game total in Clemson history. Rodney Thomas gave great support with 16 tackles, while freshman Eric Sampson added 14. Wake Forest entered the game sixth in the nation in rushing offense with an average of 235 yards per game. But, the Deacs gained just 193 yards on the ground and 344 overall, their second lowest figure of the year in each area.

Dantzler paced the Clemson offense with 211 passing and 119 rushing. He connected on 16-27 passes for 211 yards and two scores. His 119 rushes came on 20 attempts. It marked the third straight road game that he had at least 100 yards rushing and 300 yards in total offense. Dantzler threw his completions to six different Tigers. Thirteen of the 16 receptions were made by freshmen. Derrick Hamilton led the Clemson receivers with six for 91 yards and a score. Ben Hall caught his second touchdown reception of the year.

The two teams battled to a scoreless tie in the first period. It was the first time in 15 quarters that Clemson had shut out the opposition. But, the Demon Deacons took the lead late in the second period. Tarence Williams scored on a four-yard run with 3;34 left in the period to complete a 12-play 68-yard drive that took 5:03 off the clock. Wake Forest threw just one pass on the drive.

Clemson came back quickly and drove 53 yards in six plays to tie the score just 1:16 before the half. Dantzler hit Hamilton with a 32-yard scoring pass to tie the count.

Clemson scored on its first possession after intermission. Clemson drove 75 yards in 11 plays with Dantzler hitting freshman Ben Hall with a three-yard score to give Clemson the lead. The Tigers scored again on their first play of the fourth period as Dantzler scored on a 10-yard run. It completed a nine -play 80-yard drive.

Wake Forest came back on the next possession however and drove 80 yards for a score, also in just nine plays. Clemson gained possession of the ball for just the third time in the second half, leading by seven. The Tigers drove to midfield, but Travis Zachery fumbled.

The Deacons had the ball with 8:49 left, down seven. But, on the second play of the drive, Chad Carson intercepted, his first career theft of his 42-game career. The return gave the Tigers the ball at midfield. Clemson's drive stalled and the Tigers punted.

Wake Forest then drove from its own 20 to the Clemson nine. On third-and-eight James MacPherson's pass in the left corner of the endzone was intercepted by Charles Hafley. Clemson ran out the final 2:09 of the game. A 19-yard run by Dantzler on third-and-seven with over a minute left iced the game.

In addition to the 53 combined tackles by Clemson's linebackers, Eric Meekins had 13 stops and Bryant McNeal added a career high 11, including a 17-yard sack. Top Stories