NOTES: S.C. State Clemson

Clemson Memorial Stadium will be the site of a Hamlin family reunion this weekend.

Hamlin Family Reunion
Clemson Memorial Stadium will be the site of a Hamlin family reunion this weekend. There will be three brothers on the field with that last name, Clemson starting safety Michael Hamlin and South Carolina State defensive backs Markee Hamlin, a junior, and Marquais Hamlin, a freshman.

This is the first time brothers will be on opposite sidelines in a Clemson game since 1981 when Mark Richardson was a defensive end for Clemson and Jon Richardson was a receiver for North Carolina. Both Richardson's had outstanding games in that 10-8 Clemson win 27 years ago.

Mark had a career high seven tackles from his defensive end position and Jon had four receptions for 48 yards to lead North Carolina receivers. There were actually a couple of plays where Mark tackles Jon after a reception and of course they engaged many times on running plays. Both now work in the front office of the Carolina Panthers.

All three Hamlins are defensive players and likely won't go against each other on special teams or scrimmage plays on Saturday. But that doesn't mean there won't be a strong competition going. We are sure all three will be striving to win the interception and tackle race on the final stat sheet.

Michael Hamlin is arguably Clemson's top defensive player and the same can be said for Markee on the South Carolina State side. That was actually the case a year ago when Michael was voted Clemson's top defensive player and was named permanent defensive captain for the 2007 season. Markee was named South Carolina State's top defensive player last year.

Michael was tied for the Clemson team lead in interceptions a year ago with four, while Markee led South Carolina State with five. Michael was second on Clemson's team in tackles last year with 97, while Markee led South Carolina State in tackles last year with 51.

This year both players are second on their respective defenses in tackles. Michael has a 3-0 lead in interceptions so far as he tied a Clemson single game record with three picks in the win over The Citadel. Both were second- team all-conference selections last year, Michael in the ACC and Markee in the MEAC.

So far this year both Hamlins are second on their respective teams in tackles. Michael has 28 to rank second on the Clemson team and he is fourth in the ACC. Markee is second on South Carolina State's team with 15.

We don't mean to leave Marquais out of this comparison. He is just a red-shirt freshman and just learning the system. He has one tackle so far as a reserve defensive back, but he is also destined to be an outstanding player for the Bulldogs.

It should be noted that all these Hamlins come by this football ability naturally. Their father, Michael Hamlin, once had five interceptions in a high school game at Timmonsville High (the rival of sons high school, Lamar) and that is still the record for a high school game in South Carolina. The proudest of all will probably be their mother, Jeanette Hamlin, who will be attending Saturday's game with many family members.

Blackwells on Both Sidelines
While there will be a brothers on each side Saturday, there will also be a coaching brother combination. Each coaching staff has a member of the Blackwell family. Clemson's linebacker coach is David Blackwell, who is in his sixth season mentoring the Tiger linebackers. Joseph Blackwell is in his sixth season as an assistant at South Carolina State. He currently coaches the Bulldogs guards and centers and is also the running game coordinator.

The Blackwell family is from Greenville so we are sure there will be many family members on hand Saturday.

David has been a big reason Clemson has finished in the top 25 of both polls three of the last five years, including last season. He has coached many outstanding Clemson linebackers, including 2004 ACC Defensive Player of the Year Leroy Hill. Clemson has finished in the top 25 in the nation in all four major defensive categories each of the last three years, a first in Clemson football history.

Joseph joined the Bulldogs program in 2003, the same year David came to Clemson. South Carolina State has led the MEAC in rushing each of the last two seasons. In 2005 they led the MEAC in fewest sacks allowed, and they rank fourth in the FCS level so far this year with just one sack allowed in three games.

Napier Coached at South Carolina State
Clemson assistant coach Billy Napier is another Clemson coach with a tie to South Carolina State. Napier, now in his third full season at Clemson, served as quarterbacks coach at South Carolina State in 2005. He helped the Bulldgos to a 9-2 record that year, including a 7-1 mark in the MEAC. South Carolina State averaged 34.4 points per game, 17th best in Division I-AA that year. They were also 12th in the nation in rushing and 15th in passing efficiency that year.

Napier is also the recruiting coordinator at Clemson and has had a positive impact on Clemson's recruiting rankings the last couple of years. Last year, Clemson's class was ranked second in the nation by Napier also coaches the Clemson tight ends and is a big reason Clemson led the ACC in scoring offense each year he has been at Clemson.

S.C. State Update
South Carolina State enters this game with a 2-1 record. The Bulldogs lost to Central Florida in the season opener 17-0, but have gained wins over Benedict College (42-3) and Bethune Cookman (28-19) in the last two outings.

South Carolina State has some outstanding numbers on both sides of the ball, but in particular on defense. The Bulldogs rank fourth in the nation in pass defense (85 yards per game allowed), sixth in total defense (243 yards allowed) and sixth in scoring defense (13.0 points per game). They held FBS team Central Florida to just 17 points in the season opener.

The South Carolina State defense has recorded nine sacks and allowed just one on offense so far this year. Six different players have recorded sacks on defense. Thirteen different players have recorded a tackle for loss, including Matt Key, who has a team best four stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Rafael Bush is the top tackler with 21, including 16 first hits. He also has a fumble recovery. Markee Hamlin and Desmon Benjamin are tied for second on the team in tackles with 15 apiece. Julius Wilkerson is a top defensive lineman with 14 stops.

The offense is led by William Ford, who has 334 rushing yards in just three games. He also has five touchdowns and ranks 11th in FCS in rushing yards per game at 111. He had 175 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns in the win over Bethune Cookman and leads the team in scoring with five touchdowns.

QB Malcolm Long completed 16-24 passes for 211 yards in the win over Bethune Cookman. For the year, Long is 40-64 for 458 yards and three scores. His top receiver in terms of receptions is Dusten Dubose, who has 11 catches for 79 yards. Oliver Young has 10 catches for 142 yards and a score, while Octavius Darby has nine receptions for 141.

Clemson Offense on Record Per Play Pace
Clemson has been productive on a per play basis so far this year. In fact, the team is averaging 6.79 yards per play, ahead of the record pace of 6.50 yards per play in 2006. The Tigers average just 380 yards per game, which means the Tigers have not run many plays so far this year.

Clemson has had just 168 offensive snaps and has not had as many as 65 plays in a game yet this year. That is an average of 56 snaps per game. The new 40-second rule must have something to do with that, and Clemson's quick score capability is a factor, as is the time of possession for the opposing offense.

It is interesting to note that both teams have combined for 127.7 plays per game over the first three Clemson games this year, down from 141.5 plays for the two teams combined for the 13 games during the 2007 season. This is down from the 2001 season when the two teams averaged 150.1 plays per game, the high figure in the last 10 years.

Clemson's game last Saturday started at 12:10 PM and ended at 3:10 for a time of 3:00. That was with television. Had we not had TV timeouts the game would have taken 2:50 PM to play.

Fans may have to realize a new standard in evaluating a team's offensive numbers. Yards per play may be the new yards per game because teams are just not going to have as many plays to accumulate yardage.

Buchholz Still Perfect as Kicker
Clemson placekicker Mark Buchholz is yet to miss a placekick this year. The graduate student from Georgia is a perfect 4-4 on field goals and 10-10 on extra points. He is now 58-58 on extra points in his career and is closing in on the Clemson record for consecutive PATs. Chris Gardocki has the record with 72 in a row between 1988-90. Gardocki never missed an extra point in his Clemson career. Bob Paulling made 70 in a row from 1979-81.

Buchholz set a Clemson single season record for scoring last year with 114 points. He is currently second on the Clemson team in that category with 7.3 points per game on 22 points in three games. Buchholz now has 26 field goals in 16 games in his Clemson career, an average of 1.625 made field goals per game. On a career basis, that is fourth among active FBS Subdivision players.

Clemson Has a Productive Ford as Well
While South Carolina State's top offensive player might be running back William Ford, one of Clemson's most productive players so far this year has been receiver Jacoby Ford. Jacoby missed the last five games last year with a broken ankle and it certainly hurt the Clemson offense.

Ford has been an All-American in track each of the last two years and has been clocked in the 40 at 4.03 by Clemson conditioning coaches on the Clemson track. That is the fastest by any football player in Clemson history.

So far this year, Ford has been very productive on the field with a team best 219 receiving yards and 54 rushing yards, third best on the team. He is second in all-purpose running yards behind C.J. Spiller.

Ford had what might have been his best all-around game last week against NC State when he had 106 yards receiving on six catches and added 48 rushing yards on just two carries. It was his first 100-yard reception game at Clemson and his six catches were a career high. It marked the second straight game that he had a career high in catches, as he had five the previous week in the win over The Citadel. Ford had 154 all-purpose running yards against NC State, tied for the second highest figure in his career. But all 154 yards were from scrimmage (receptions and rushing yards), his career high in yards from scrimmage.

In his three-year career, Ford has now touched the ball 123 times and gained 2009 yards. That is an average of 16.3 yards every time he touches the ball. He has averaged 15.9 on receptions, 12.2 on rushing plays, 10.6 on punt returns and 28.2 on kickoff returns.

Austin ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week
Thomas Austin graded 85 percent and had 12 knockdown blocks in Clemson's win over NC State as the Tigers gained 428 yards of offense. The leader of an offensive line that started three red-shirt freshmen for the first time since 1943, Austin did not allow a sack and had four knockdown blocks on Clemson's last drive of the game, a 96-yard drive that took 8:07 off the clock. Austin played all 59 snaps at center in the 91-degree heat. This is the second time in his career he has been named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week. He also won the honor for his performance against Central Michigan in 2007.

Tigers in the National Rankings
Clemson safety Michael Hamlin has three interceptions in the first three games of the year. All three came in the win over The Citadel. With his 1.0 average he ranks third in the nation in interceptions per game.

Hamlin is one of three Tigers ranked in the top 25 in various stat categories this week. C.J. Spiller is fifth in scoring average with 12.0 points per game, as he has six touchdowns in the first three games. He is also 11th in kickoff return average at 31.3 and is 24th in all-purpose running at 149.0 yards per contest. Cavell Conner is ranked 20th in the nation in tackles with a 10.0 average.

Spiller Leads nation in Yards/Play
C.J. Spiller is one of the top all-around backs in the nation. He ranks 24th in the nation in all-purpose running with 149.0 yards per game. He has achieved that average with 36 touches on rushing plays, receptions, and kick returns. That is an average of 12.4 yards every time he touches the ball.

Over his career, Spiller has gained 3,585 all-purpose yards on 422 plays in 29 games. That is an average of 123.6 yards per game and 8.50 yards per play. Among current FBS Division players, that is the best per play average in the nation. He now has 25 career touchdowns. The only other player in the nation with an average of over 8.0 yards per play among players with at least 400 plays is Brandon West of Western Michigan, who has an 8.02 figure.

Jacoby Ford has a 16.3 per play average for his career, but he has just 123 touches in his career, so he has a long way to go to reach the NCAA minimum of 400 attempts.

Spiller has shown his all-around abilities in many areas this year. He is the team's second leading rusher with 143 yards, but has averaged 7.9 yards per carry. He is fourth on the team in receptions with 8-94 and leads in kick return yards with 210. He also has six touchdowns and has scored them three different ways. He has four touchdowns rushing, one receiving and one on a kickoff return. Top Stories