NOTES: Middle Tennessee at Clemson

This will be just the second time Clemson has faced Middle Tennessee in its history.

The only previous meeting took place in 2003 when the Tigers downed the Blue Raiders by a 37-14 score at Death Valley. Clemson's offense gained 481 yards that day, 298 passing and 183 rushing.

Charlie Whitehurst led the Clemson offense by completing 23-of-28 passes for 298 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for 41 yards on nine carries in one of his finest all-around games as a four-year starter under center for the Tigers. Airese Currie set a Clemson single game record for receptions that still stands today as he caught 12 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. Derrick Hamilton had two touchdown receptions and caught four for 78 yards overall.

Jamaal Fudge led the Clemson defense with 17 tackles, while John Leake added 12. Travis Pugh had an interception and Leroy Hill had nine tackles and two tackles for loss.

Clemson in Season Openers
Clemson has won 19 of its last 25 season openers. That includes a 6-4 record the last 10 years when Clemson has played its most challenging season opening games. Clemson has lost three of its last seven season opening games, but all three were to top 25 teams, twice to Georgia (2002 and 2003) and last year to Alabama.

Clemson has played five openers against top 25 teams in the last 10 years after having played just five top 25 teams in opening games total between 1936 (first year of the AP poll) and 1999.

Clemson has had some exciting season openers in recent years. In 2004 against Wake Forest, Clemson won a thrilling 37-30 overtime victory in a game that was televised by ABC. It gave Clemson an 8-2-1 record against ACC teams in season openers. Clemson won at home in 2005 in thrilling fashion, a 25-24, win over 17th ranked Texas A&M on a 42-yard field goal by Jad Dean with two seconds left. Clemson also beat a 19th ranked Florida State team in the season opener of 2007.

The Tigers are 83-22-8 (.770), regardless of site, in their first game of the season in the previous 113 seasons. Even though this is the 114th season of Clemson football, Clemson has had just 108 home openers in its history because five seasons Clemson did not play a game at home. In the 108 home openers Clemson has an 83-17-8 record against 33 different opponents.

Tigers to Honor Hunter by Wearing No. 17
Prior to the beginning of this season it was determined that sophomore linebacker Stanley Hunter would have to give up football due to his continuing battle with epilepsy. The native of Spartanburg, SC and former linebacker at Byrnes High School, had a solid freshman year when he had 37 tackles in just 158 defensive snaps. His average of one tackle for every 4.27 snaps, led the team in terms of fewest plays per tackle.

But during spring practice and over the summer, he had repeated spells that led to his retirement from the game. Hunter is still involved with the program as a student coach and hopes to go into the coaching profession.

Hunter is very popular among his teammates. As a result various players have come to Coach Dabo Swinney and asked that they wear his jersey number 17 in his honor during the season. For the season opener, fellow linebacker Brandon Maye, who normally wears number- 20, will wear number 17 for the season opener against Middle Tennessee. Quarterback Willy Korn, who played at Byrnes High with Hunter, will wear number-17 for the Georgia Tech game. The plan is to have a different Tiger wear number 17 each game this year.

Spiller and Ford on Preseason All-ACC Team
Clemson has two selections at three positions on the ACC's official preseason All- ACC team. C.J. Spiller was named as a running back and kick returner, while Jacoby Ford was named as a wide receiver.

Spiller made first –team All-ACC as a kick returner and second-team All-ACC as a running back last year. He was also second in the voting for preseason ACC Player-of-the- Year with 28 votes. Georgia Tech running back Jonathan Dwyer was first with 39 votes. Ford has never been named to an All-ACC team in football, but like Spiller he has been All-ACC in track.

Spiller had 1,770 all-purpose running yards last year to rank 21st in the nation in that area. He had 629 yards rushing and 436 receiving in 2008 for 1065 yards from scrimmage. Ford had 55 receptions for 710 yards and four touchdowns last year. He was second on the team in receptions and yards behind Aaron Kelly. Ford is the only ACC player on the preseason Biletnikoff list.

As a team, the ACC media attending the annual football kickoff in Greensboro picked Clemson second in the Atlantic Division behind Florida State. Clemson had 14 first place votes for the Atlantic Division, while the Seminoles had 56.

Freshman Parker to Start at QB
Kyle Parker is slated to be Clemson's starting quarterback in the season opener against Middle Tennessee on September 5. It will not only be Parker's first game as a starter, but it will be the first time he has played in a varsity game. Parker came to Clemson in January of 2008 and has been through two Spring practices and the 2008 regular season when he red-shirted.

If Parker starts the season opener, he will be the first freshman to start the season opener at quarterback for the Tigers since 1945 when Bobby Gage started as the single wing tailback against Presbyterian. The single wing tailback was really the quarterback in that offense. Gage, who went on to become an All-American in 1948, had a great performance in that first game as a freshman, as he completed 3-4 for 61 yards and had eight rushes for 144 yards and two touchdowns, including an 88-yard run that is still fifth longest run from scrimmage in Clemson history.

The last time the Clemson starting quarterback in the season opener had not previously taken a snap in a varsity game was in 1974. That year Mike O'Cain made the start in the season opener at Texas A&M. O'Cain had red-shirted the 1972 season, then did not appear in a game in 1973.

The last time Clemson started a freshman at quarterback was just last year when Willy Korn started against Georgia Tech. The Tigers lost that game, 21-17. Korn played sparingly as he was injured in the first quarter while throwing a pass. The last time Clemson won a game in which a freshman started at quarterback was in 2002 when then red-shirt freshman Charlie Whitehurst quarterbacked Clemson to a 27-20 win over South Carolina.

Clemson has started a freshman at quarterback over the course of the season just five previous seasons. Doc McFadden started as a freshman in 1906, Butch Butler in 1942 (single wing tailback), Willie Jordan in 1975, Rodney Williams in 1985 and Nealon Greene in 1994. Butler was the only freshman to start every game at quarterback for the course of a season.

Whitehurst, now with the San Diego Chargers, started five games as a freshman in 2002 (3-2 record), but the starter for the course of that season was Willie Simmons, who started eight that year. Simmons will be on the opposing sidelines for the season opener as an assistant coach with Middle Tennessee.

Strong Clemson Contingent at Middle Tennessee
Saturday is not Homecoming, but it could be billed that way based on Clemson's opponent. Middle Tennessee is led by Head Coach Rick Stockstill, who served as an assistant coach at Clemson from 1989-2002 and he has hired nine coaches and staff members who have some connection to Clemson on their resumes.

Stockstill coached at Clemson under four coaches from 1989-02. He is the only coach in Clemson history to serve under four different head coaches. He worked under Danny Ford in 1989, Ken Hatfield from 1990-93, Tommy West from 1994-97 and Tommy Bowden from 1999-2002. Jeff Scott is Clemson's current wide receivers coach and Stockstill was his position coach his entire playing career at Clemson. Stockstill also recruited Brian Dawkins, who will be inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame at the Middle Tennessee game.

His 14 years of service as an assistant rank sixth most in school history. Bob Jones worked for 30 years under Frank Howard from 1940-69 and that is the record.

Stockstill is just the fifth former Clemson assistant coach to later bring a team to Death Valley as a head coach, the first to do it since Tom Moore with The Citadel in 1986. AP McLeod was the first to do it. He was an assistant at Clemson in 1927, then led Furman into Death Valley in 1942, the first year of Memorial Stadium. Bobby Johnson was an assistant coach at Clemson in 1993, then brought Furman to Clemson three times (1994, 1996 and 1998). Art Baker is the only other former Clemson assistant to bring a team to Death Valley as head coach. The previous four coaches to do it are a combined 0-6.

Willie Simmons and Justin Watts are Clemson graduates on the Middle Tennessee staff. Simmons was a quarterback for the Tigers from 1999-02. He was the backup quarterback to Woody Dantzler in 2000 and 2001, then the starter in 2002. He threw for four touchdown passes off the bench in Clemson's win at North Carolina in 2000. He was also a graduate assistant on Tommy Bowden's coaching staff in 2006. Justin Watts is the only Clemson football player in the last 50 years to earn five letters. He was a wide receiver for the Tigers from 1996- 2000 and 51 career catches.

David Bibee and Les Herrin are two more assistants who also coached at Clemson. Bibee was an assistant with the Clemson program from 1997-98 and Herrin served the Tigers program for 14 years, including the 1981 National Championship season.

Alexander Will Play Two Positions
Senior Kevin Alexander is listed as a co-starter at two positions on defense on the preseason depth chart. The native of Raiford, FL who was a high school teammate of C.J. Spiller, started 10 of the 13 games at defensive end last year and had 34 tackles, including three tackles for loss.

This year, with the return of Ricky Sapp off the injury list, and in an effort to get the top 11 players on the field as much as possible, Alexander will split time at the SAM linebacker and defensive end. He is a co-starter at both.

For his career, Alexander has played in 39 straight games and has 82 career tackles and five tackles for loss ,including two sacks. His brother Bennie was a cornerback at Florida.

Five Graduates on Clemson Roster
Clemson has five graduates on the roster for 2009. Those players are Sadat Chambers (saf), Chris Chancellor (CB), Thomas Austin (OG), Durrell Barry (TE), and Kyle Johnson (WR). Many other seniors on the roster are slated to graduate in December. The list includes running back C.J. Spiller who needs to pass four courses to graduate in December. Spiller was first-team Academic All-ACC last year.

Clemson has had a strong academic performance in recent years.

•This past year 27 football players were on the ACC academic honor roll, the most in school history.

•Five Tigers were on the Academic All-ACC team, second best in the conference.

•Forty-four of Clemson's 96 players on the roster in the spring of 2009 made the academic honor roll, an all-time record for one semester. It was also the most selections among all sports at Clemson.

•The team GPA was 2.61 for that semester, second best on record for a Clemson football team.

•13 players on the roster were on the Dean's List for the second semester.

•All 20 seniors on the 2006 Clemson team have their degrees from Clemson. All but two seniors from the 2007 team have their degrees, and all but two of the seniors from the 2008 team have their degrees.

Tigers Have Nine Straight Winning Seasons
With its win over South Carolina in the final 2009 regular-season game, Clemson clinched its ninth consecutive winning season.

The streak goes back to 2000 when Clemson was 9-3. The last non-winning season was 1999, Tommy Bowden's first year when Clemson was 6-6. The last losing season was 1998 (3-8).

Entering 2008, Clemson was one of 16 teams who had a winning season every year of the 21st century. Two of the 16 (Auburn, Michigan) dropped off the list after 5-7 and 3-9 seasons, respectively. In 2008, Southern Mississippi won its last five games, including a bowl victory, to improve to 7-6 and keep its streak alive.

The 14 schools who have had a winning season every year of this decade are Boise State, Boston College, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisiana State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Southern Mississippi, Texas, Texas Tech, and Virginia Tech. As you can see, five of the 14 on the list are from the ACC.

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