Saturday, November 9, 2002
Chapel Hill, NC
Television: Jefferson Pilot
Play By Play: Steve Martin
Color: Doc Walker
Sideline: Mike Hogewood
Radio: Clemson Tiger Sports Properties
Play By Play: Jim Phillips
Color: Rodney Williams
Sideline: Pete Yanity
Series History: Clemson leads 31-18-1
Clemson Can Become Bowl Eligible This Weekend Clemson has three games remaining and a 5-4 record. The Tigers need just one win to become bowl eligible. If the Tigers advance to a bowl, it would be the first time since the 1988-91 era that Clemson has gone to a bowl game at least four years in a row. It would be special for Clemson's senior class. No Clemson senior class has gone to four bowls since the senior class of 1991 led by Levon Kirkland and Ed McDaniel.
Tommy Bowden's Tigers have been to a bowl each of the last three years. He is already the first Clemson coach to take the Tigers to a bowl game in each of his first three years with the program. He took the Tigers to the Peach Bowl in 1999, the Gator Bowl in 2000 and the Humanitarian Bowl in 2001.
Clemson has been to a bowl game 14 of the last 17 years. The three years Clemson has failed to reach a bowl during that time frame have been in even numbered years (1992, 1994 and 1998).
Clemson's remaining games are against North Carolina (2-7), Maryland (7-2) and South Carolina (5-4). The teams that have beaten Clemson so far this year are a combined 29-8; Georgia (8-1), Florida State (6-3), Virginia (6-3) and NC State (9-1).
Whitehurst Establishes Clemson Records
Freshman quarterback Charlie Whitehurst set or tied five Clemson records in his first start as Tiger quarterback in Clemson's 34-31 win at Duke. He established seven Clemson freshman records in the process.
Many of the records were of major proportions and his accomplishments put him in high company. For instance, he joined Woody Dantzler as the only Clemson players to accumulate at least 400 yards of total offense in a single game. Whitehurst had 414 yards of total offense in the performance. Dantzler had three 400-yard games in his celebrated career.
Whitehurst completed 34-52 passes for 420 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Duke. Whitehurst's passing yardage total was the most by an ACC player this year. He set a Clemson mark for completions and yards passing and tied the touchdown record. His completion total was seven ahead of the previous mark and the yardage total was 77 yards better than the previous marks. In other words, he enhanced the completion record by 25 percent and the yardage record by 22.4 percent. Both records were held by Brandon Streeter.
Whitehurst was especially effective in the clutch in the win at Duke. He was 11-17 for 215 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth period alone. He completed 7-7 passes at one juncture in the fourth period. He led the Tigers to three touchdowns in 4:05 off the clock, all touchdown passes, as he connected on 5-5 for 132 yards during that time in which he led the Tigers from a 24-10 deficit to a 31-24 lead.
Throughout the game he was 9-15 for 148 yards and two scores on third and fourth down plays. Five times he completed passes on situations in which Clemson was facing third or fourth down and eight or more yards to go. His biggest completion came on a fourth-and-10, a 47-yard play to Airese Currie in the fourth quarter that brought Clemson to 24-17. An incompletion there would have given Duke the ball at midfield with a 14 point lead and just 10 minutes left.
For the season, Whitehurst has completed 52 of 82 passes for 600 yards and five touchdowns. He has thrown just one interception. His 63.4 percent completion mark is just ahead of Brandon Streeter's single season mark of 63.1 set in 1999.
Records Set by Charlie Whitehurst at Duke
Freshman Single Game Records
Whitehurst Victorious in First Start
Charlie Whitehurst had the most impressive passing performance in Clemson history for a player making his first start. Based on the records he set at Duke for passing yardage, completions and touchdown passes, you could make a case that it was the greatest passing performance in Clemson history, regardless of class. He did not throw an interception in 52 attempts in addition to all the aforementioned statistics.
Whitehurst was the ninth Clemson freshman since 1952 to start a game at quarterback. The previous eight Clemson freshmen to start were 3-5 in their first game as a starter and 12-17 overall, including 5-12 away and 7-5 at home. Whitehurst was the first freshman to start a game for the Tigers since the 1998 North Carolina game in Chapel Hill when Woody Dantzler was the starter, a game Clemson lost 21-14. Whitehurst was the first freshman to start and lead the Tigers to a victory since Nealon Greene won over Georgia Tech as a freshman in 1994.
Whitehurst was the first Tiger freshman to win on the road since Greene won at North Carolina in 1994. Finally, he was the first freshman to win his first start in a road came since Dexter McCleon quarterbacked Clemson to victory at South Carolina in the season finale of 1993, the last game for Ken Hatfield as Clemson head coach.
The finest season by a Clemson freshman quarterback in terms of wins and losses was established by Rodney Williams in 1985. With Clemson sputtering with a 1-3 season to start the year, Head Coach Danny Ford put Williams into the starting lineup for the fifth game of the season, a home contest against Virginia. Williams led the Tigers to a 27-24 victory. He posted a 5-3 record as the starter overall that year and that is the most wins by a Clemson freshman quarterback in a season. Williams went on to win an ACC record 32 games as the starting quarterback.
Clemson Overcomes 14-Point Deficit
Clemson overcame a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat Duke on November 2. It marked just the second time in school history that the Tigers have overcome a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to gain victory. It was just the seventh time in Clemson history that the Tigers have trailed at any point in a game by 14 points or more, then came back to gain victory.
The only other time Clemson has overcome a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit was in 1980 at Virginia. Ironically, Clemson trailed by the exact same score as this past Saturday's game with Duke, 24-10, as the game entered the fourth period. But, Clemson scored the last 17 points of the game, all in the fourth period, to win the contest. Obed Ariri kicked a 52-yard field goal with just six seconds left to win. Bill Smith, now on Clemson's Board of Trustees, returned a blocked punt for a touchdown with just four minutes left to provide a key play during the comeback.
The Tigers trailed Duke 17-10 entering the fourth period, then Duke scored on a 54-yard touchdown pass to take a 24-10 lead with just 11:11 left. But, Clemson scored three touchdowns in a 4:05 span to take a 31-24 lead before eventually winning 34-31 on a 21-yard field goal by Aaron Hunt with eight seconds left.
Tommy Bowden coached Tiger teams have shown an ability to come back, this year and in previous years. Clemson has now overcome a 12-point deficit to gain victory 10 times in history and three of these comebacks have been coached by Bowden. The others took place at North Carolina in 2000 (17 down in first half) and at Georgia Tech (12 down in the first half) in 2001.
Clemson overcame a nine-point second-half deficit against Wake Forest earlier this year. The Tigers trailed 23-14 in the third period in a 31-23 victory on October 19. Thus, each of Clemson's last two victories have come in games in which the Tigers have trailed by at least nine points.
It is interesting to note that 13 of the 19 times Clemson has overcome a double digit deficit at any time in a game to gain victory have taken place on the road.
The Clemson record for points overcome for victory is 28, set at Virginia in 1992. Clemson trailed 28-0 with 32 minutes left in that game, then won 29-28. Clemson trailed by only nine points heading into the fourth period of that game. That is also the ACC record for a comeback in a game involving two conference teams.
Clemson Has Depth at Quarterback
With the emergence of Charlie Whitehurst in the win over Duke, Clemson now has one of the deepest quarterback positions in Clemson history. How many schools in the nation can say they have two quarterbacks who have throw for four touchdowns in a game and have had over 300 yards total offense in a single game.
Clemson can make that statement. Simmons threw for a school record tying four touchdowns at North Carolina in 2000,while Whitehurst did it last week at Duke. Whitehurst had a 414-yard total offense day at Duke last week, while Simmons had a 343 yard day at Florida State earlier this year. Both rank among the top 10 single game performances in Clemson history.
Both players have also led Clemson to a come-from-behind victory. In 2000 as a freshman Simmons led Clemson to a 38-24 win at North Carolina. Clemson trailed by 17 points in that game and it is the second greatest comeback in Clemson history. Last week at Duke, Whitehurst led Clemson to victory after the Tigers trailed by as many as 14 points.
So far this season, Simmons has throw for 1503 yards and six touchdowns. Whitehurst has thrown for 600 yards and five scores. Whitehurst has completed 63.4 percent of his passes, while Simmons has clicked on 58.1 percent of his passes.
Tigers Scored Three times in Four Minutes at Duke
Clemson scored 24 points in the fourth period to defeat Duke 34-31 on November 2. That was the fifth highest scoring fourth quarter in Clemson history, the most points scored in the final period by the Tigers since 1988 when Clemson scored 28 in the final period at Maryland in a 49-25 victory.
It was the most points scored in any quarter since last year's Humanitarian Bowl when the Tigers scored 28 in the third period against Louisiana Tech. The Clemson record for any quarter is 35 points, scored in the second period against Wake Forest in 1981, a game Clemson won, 82-24.
Clemson scored 21 of those 24 fourth-period points at Duke in a 4:05 time span. It was the quickest Clemson has scored three touchdowns in a game since the 2000 Missouri game when Clemson scored three touchdowns in just 3:14. The Clemson record for scoring three touchdowns in a short period of time is 2:30. Clemson took just two minutes and 30 seconds to score three touchdowns and 21 points at Maryland in 1988.
Clemson vs. North Carolina Series
Clemson holds a 31-18-1 advantage in the series with North Carolina that dates to 1897, the second year of football at Clemson. That 1897 game was just the sixth game in Clemson football history and the Tar Heels won the contest 28-0. It was the first game for the Tigers against a team that is currently in the ACC. Obviously the league was not formed until 1953.
Clemson has won 11 of the last 16 games and 15 of the last 21 in the series, but North Carolina has won four of the last six. North Carolina defeated Clemson last year at Clemson on homecoming, 38-3. Clemson was coming off consecutive victories over Georgia Tech and NC State and had accumulated over 500 yards total offense in each game.
Clemson has a 14-10-1 advantage in the series in games in Chapel Hill, including a 13-9-1 record in Kenan Stadium. The landmark game of the series took place at North Carolina in 1981, a 10-8 Clemson victory. Clemson entered the game undefeated and ranked second in the nation, while North Carolina had one loss and was ranked eighth. It was the first battle of top 10 ACC teams over the first 45 years of the ACC.
Tommy Bowden is 2-1 against North Carolina. He guided the Tigers to a 31-20 victory at Clemson in his first year, a win that ended a three game winning streak for North Carolina against the Tigers. In 2000, Clemson won in Chapel Hill, 38-24 behind four touchdown passes from Willie Simmons.
Last Year vs. North Carolina
At Clemson Memorial Stadium
North Carolina's ability to contain quarterbacks Woody Dantzler and Willie Simmons led to its fifth straight win of the season and first victory over the Tigers since 1998.
The high-powered Clemson offense that entered the game with consecutive games of at least 500 yards total offense in a pair of road wins, was limited to 209 total yards and failed to reach the end zone in a 38-3 loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels. It was Clemson's worst ACC home loss since 1975. Tar Heel quarterbacks Ronald Curry and Damien Durant combined for 294 yards of total offense, completed 14 of the 18 passes and did not commit any turnovers against the Tiger defense.
While the Tar Heel quarterbacks led the team to 425 yards of total offense, the Tar Heel defense held Clemson to its lowest point total since 1998 and also held Clemson's offense to three points or less for just the third time since 1993. It was the fewest yards and points scored by a Tommy Bowden coached team.
Clemson quarterback Woodrow Dantzler was held to 116 yards of total offense, a performance that was 401 yards short of his record setting 517-yard performance the previous week at NC State. Dantzler completed 10 of his 25 passes for 73 yards, was intercepted once on a brilliant play by Julius Peppers. Dantzler was also held to 43 rushing yards on 12 carries.
Running back Andre Williams jumpstarted the Tar Heel offense mid-way through the first quarter. Leading a six-play, 80-yard drive, Williams capped off the offensive effort with a four-yard touchdown run that gave North Carolina a lead from which it would never look back. Clemson's only counter would come on their ensuing drive that kicker Aaron Hunt finished off with a 48-yard field goal. It was the longest field goal of his career and longest by a Tiger since the Auburn game in the 1998 Peach Bowl.
Trailing 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, and riding on the momentum from their previous scoring drive, Clemson's scoring hopes were crushed when Peppers intercepted a Dantzler pass in acrobatic fashion at the Tiger 27-yard line. North Carolina would extend its lead shortly thereafter; with 12:40 remaining before halftime, when Bosley Allen's 22-yard touchdown reception from Durrant gave the Tar Heels an 11-point lead. Clemson never threatened the rest of the game.
Clemson was led defensively by Charles Hafley, who had 19 tackles, most ever by a Clemson defensive back. A bright spot on offense was the play of freshman Airese Currie, who had five catches for 59 yards.
Clemson's last Trip to Chapel Hill
Clemson 38, North Carolina 24 in 2000
Freshman quarterback Willie Simmons threw four touchdown passes to help Clemson erase a 17-0 first-half deficit and defeat North Carolina, 38-24. Simmons entered the game when Woodrow Dantzler injured his right foot on a 24-yard keeper with 6:32 remaining in the first half. Simmons exceeded all expectations by completing 10 of 18 passes for 228 yard. The game featured the largest Tiger comeback since 1992, when Clemson rallied from a 28-0 halftime deficit to defeat Virginia.
Simmons entered the game with the luxury of having Rod Gardner in the receiving core. Gardner finished with seven catches for a school record 182 yards. The three-touchdown effort earned him ACC Offensive Back-of-the-Week honors and it tied the Clemson single game touchdown reception record.
Clemson outscored the Tar Heels 38-7 after falling behind early. Clemson's prime-time players rose to the occasion as the Tigers faced the most urgent situation of the season. Chad Carson had a team-high 16 tackles. Keith Adams registered 15 and Robert Carswell had nine. Adams and Carswell each came up with timely second-half interceptions to help seal the victory. The 34-yard interception return was the first of the year for Carswell, who led Clemson with six picks in 1999. Sophomore defensive end Nick Eason recorded five tackles and two sacks for loss of 11 yards.
Jeff Reed kicked a 26-yard field goal to put the Tar Heels on the board first. Clemson failed to earn a first down on its opening two possessions of the game. Brandon Russell ran for a two-yard touchdown to complete a six-play 81-yard drive that took only 2:12 off the clock. On their next possession, Ronald Curry connected with Sam Aiken for a 57-yard completion as the Tar Heels again drove over 80 yards on six plays. Clemson trailed 17-0 with 12:18 remaining in the second quarter.
Dantzler suffered a bruised foot at the end of a 22-yard in the second quarter, so Simmons came off the bench. His first completion of the game came in the form of a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jackie Robinson with 5:42 left before the half. Robinson finished with four receptions for 76 yards, career highs. On a third-down play on North Carolina's next possession Keith Adams forced a fumble for a two-yard loss. Joe Don Reames returned the ensuing punt 51 yards to the Tar Heel 26. Simmons connected on all three of his attempts on Clemson's drive. A 20-yard Gardner reception cut North Carolina's lead to 17-14 by halftime.
Early in the third period, Bosley Allen muffed a Jamie Somaini punt and Clemson recovered the ball. After a 27-yard pass to Robinson, Aaron Hunt tied the game with a 22-yard field goal.
Simmons connected with Gardner for touchdowns on two consecutive possessions to complete the 31-0 scoring run. The Tar Heels made it a one-possession game when Saunders rushed for a touchdown with 9:17 remaining in the contest.
With about four minutes left, North Carolina took over the ball down seven points. But, Keith Adams intercepted a Curry pass and retuned the first interception of his career 27 yards to the North Carolina 2. Travis Zachery pushed into the endzone on his second attempt to make the score 38-24.
Clemson Veterans vs. North Carolina
* Altroy Bodrick (LB)-Had four tackles in 25 plays as a reserve at North Carolina in 2000. He did not play in the 1999 game due to an ankle injury, or in the 2001 game due to a torn ACL.
* Airese Currie (WR)-Had career high five catches for 59 yards against North Carolina in 2001.
* Nick Eason (DT)-Has had at least on tackles for loss in each of the last three games against North Carolina. Played just 13 sacks in the 1999 game, but had a sack, his only tackle of the game. Had a sack for 11 yards and five tackles overall as a starter in 2000. He a tackle for loss and three total tackles against North Carolina in 2001.
* Mo Fountain (DE)-Had four tackles, including a tackle for loss against North Carolina in 2001 as a first-year freshman. It was his season high in terms of tackles.
* Leroy Hill (LB)-Led Clemson in tackles with 11 in the victory over Duke in 2001.
* Aaron Hunt (PK)-Booted a 48-yard field goal against North Carolina in 2001, the longest field goal of his career. He had one field goal and 5-5 on extra points in the 2000 game.
* Wynn Kopp (P)-Had a 40.7 average on seven punts in one of his top punting performances as a Clemson player in the 2001 game in Death Valley.
*John Leake (LB)-Had eight tackles in 63 plays as a starter in the 2001 game.
* Brian Mance (CB)-Did not play against North Carolina in 2001 due to the death of his brother the previous week.
* J.J. McKelvey (WR)-Had 3-24 receiving in the 2001 game in Death Valley.
* Bryant McNeal (DE)-Had one sack for nine years in 1999, then had one tackle in 32 plays in the 2000 game in Chapel Hill. Had six tackles, including a sack in the 2001 game at Clemson.
* Eric Meekins (SS)-Had eight tackles, including seven first hits in 62 snaps as a starter in 2001.
* Jackie Robinson (WR)-Had his career best game at North Carolina in 2000 when he had four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown.
* Willie Simmons (QB)-Completed 10-18 for 228 yards and four touchdowns in Clemson's 38-24 win in Chapel Hill in 2000.
* Rodney Thomas (LB)-Had four tackles in 52 plays in the 2001 game.
* Khaleed Vaughn (DE)-Had a sack at North Carolina in 2000 and six tackles and a tackle for loss in the 2001 game.
* Donnell Washington (DT)-Had four tackles in 38 plays in 2001 game at Clemson.
* Kevin Youngblood (WR)-Caught one pass for 17 yards at North Carolina in 2000.
Clemson Has Played 13th Toughest Schedule
Clemson has a 5-4 record against a schedule ranked as the 13th most difficult in the nation by the Jeff Sagarin computer poll, a rating published by USA Today. The Tigers are ranked 41st overall in that ranking.
Clemson has losses to three top 20 teams according to the Sagarin rankings. Clemson's highest final 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 has done a good job of not getting upset under Head Coach Tommy Bowden. The Tigers are 14-1 in four years against teams who ended the season with losing records. The only loss to a team that concluded the year with a losing record took place last year against Virginia, who concluded the year 5-7. North Carolina, this week's opponent has seven losses and will not have a winning record this year. After this week, Clemson will close the season at home against Maryland (7-2) and South Carolina (5-4).
Meekins Defends in the Clutch
Senior strong safety Eric Meekins is third on the Clemson team this year with 69 tackles. He has been known for his run support this year, but has not had that many opportunities to make plays in the secondary on pass plays.
He made up for that last week at Duke when he had three passes defensed, two PBUs and his first interception of the season. All three of his passes defensed took place in the fourth period. So, he had just one pass defensed in the first 35 quarters of the year, then had three in the fourth period at Duke.
First, he broke up a pass in the endzone on a fourth down play with just five minutes left to preserve a 31-24 Clemson lead. He then broke up a pass on a first down play with just three minutes left. Then, on Duke's final play, he intercepted at midfield to clinch the Clemson victory.
Meekins had a similar season in 2001 when it came to passes defensed. In a high scoring game at NC State, Meekins had three passes broken up. He had just four passes defensed all season.
For his career, Meekins has now played in 45 games, 19 as a starter. He has 176 career tackles, nine passes broken up and three interceptions for 12 passes defensed.
Eason Has Two-Sack performance
Clemson graduate student Nick Eason had another strong performance in Clemson's win over Duke. The native of Lyons, GA had his second two-sack performance of the year in Durham, just the third time in his career he has had multiple sacks in a single game.
Eason had seven tackles overall, including the two sacks at Duke. He also had four quarterback pressures and broke up a pass. For the season, Eason now has an even 50 tackles, fifth best on the team and the top figure among defensive linemen. He also has 14 quarterback pressures, second best on the team.
Eason has played wel of late, recording 20 tackles over his last three games, including a season high eight stops in the win over Wake Forest. His other two-sack game came against Georgia Tech this year.
For his career, Eason now has 14 sacks and 28 tackles for loss. His career high for a season is seven in 2000, so he is just one off his single season best. Overall, Eason now has 141 career tackles and has played in 44 games, 32 as a starter.
Clemson Pass Defense Improved
Clemson has improved on defense this year, but that is especially the case when it comes to pass defense. Clemson gave up 240 yards per game a year ago through the air and ranked 66th in the nation in pass defense on a yards per game basis.
In 2002, Clemson is 19th in the nation in pass defense, allowing just 176 yards per game through the air. Clemson has allowed just 18 pass plays of 20 yards or more and has given up just one pass over 36 yards all year. Clemson has 15 interceptions as a team, eighth best in the nation on a per game basis and best in the ACC. No other ACC team has more than 12.
The solid effort in the pass defense area continued against NC State. Philip Rivers entered the game ranked first in the nation in passing efficiency with a 170 rating points figure. But, against the Tigers his rating was just 99.0. Rivers threw for just 129 yards, his low mark of the season. And, it was not because he just threw a couple of passes, he threw 24, meaning he averaged just 5.4 yards per attempt, also a season low. No NC State receiver had more than 29 yards receiving in the game.
As stated above, opponents are throwing for just 160 yards per game. If the season ended today, that would be the best Clemson pass defense figure on a per game basis since the 1989 team gave up 168 yards per game.