Week 5: Clemson Tigers

Clemson (2-3, 1-3) is reeling after three straight conference losses, but the Tigers have talent on both sides of the ball.

BACKGROUND

Location: Clemson, S.C.

Enrollment: 14,000

Nickname: Tigers

School Colors: Orange & Purple

Stadium: Memorial (84,000)

Conference: ACC

 

TEAM

Head Coach: Tommy Bowden

Record at CU: 44-29 (7 years)

2004 Record: 7-5 (4-4)

2004 Bowl: None

Starters Returning: 13 (7 offense, 6 defense)

2005 AP Ranking: NR

2005 Current Record: 2-3, 1-3

Clemson Game Notes

Baham tops in ACC in Yards/Reception
If Clemson gave an award at midseason most improved player on offense the winner would probably be Curtis Baham. The senior from New Orleans has had a lot of distractions this fall with the events of Hurricane Katrina and its impact on his family, but it has not effected him on the football field.

Curtis Baham
It has in fact motivated him. So far this year Baham has been Clemson's big play threat with an average of 22.3 yards per reception (14-312) and three touchdowns. He is tied for the team lead in touchdowns with Reggie Merriweather, who has three on the ground.

Baham had an 11-yard average as a sophomore in 2003 when he had 22 catches and an 11.8 average last year when he had 16 catches in 10 games. Baham has had at least one catch in every game and had a career high 87 receiving yards on five receptions in the triple overtime game against Miami (FL). He scored a tying touchdown in the first overtime on a fourth down pass from Charlie Whitehurst to send the game into a second OT. He had a 51-yard touchdown catch at Maryland that swayed the momentum in Clemson's favor in the 28-24 Tiger victory.

Baham leads the ACC in yards per reception with his 22.3 figure, ahead of the 20.4 by Vernon Davis of Maryland, and Baham's 62.4 receiving yards per game ranks fourth best in the conference.

If the season ended today, Baham's 22.3 yard average would be the sixth best average in Clemson history among Tigers who have had at least 10 receptions in a season. The record is 32.1 by Gary Cooper in 1988 when he had 13 receptions for 417 yards. Baham will have a chance for the mark based on a minimum of 20 receptions for a season. That record is 22.6 yards per catch by Glenn Smith in 1950 when he had 22 catches for 498 yards. Only three players in Clemson history have averaged 20 yards per reception and had a minimum of 20 catches in a season. Those are Smith, Craig Brantley (1975) and Terry Smith in 1993.

Whitehurst, Baham Offspring of NFL Players
Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst threw two touchdown passes to Curtis Baham in Clemson's 28-24 victory over Maryland. It was a passing combination that has strong football genes. Both Whitehurst and Baham are offspring of NFL players.

Baham's father Curtis played for the Seattle Seahawks in 1987. He was a star player at Tulane prior to his year in the NFL. Whitehurst is the son of former Green Bay Packers quarterback David Whitehurst. The elder Whitehurst played seven years in the NFL. During that time he played in 54 games, completed 51.4 percent of his passes for 6205 yards and 28 scores. He was the Green Bay starter for most of the 1978 and 1979 seasons when he passed for over 2000 yards each season.

Williamson Had Career High at NC State
Clemson tight end Bobby Williamson has fond memories of playing at NC State. Two years ago, Williamson had a career high five receptions for 32 yards against NC State in Raleigh. That is the most receptions in a game by a Clemson tight end since 1975 when Bennie Cunningham had six for 87 against Wake Forest.

Bobby Williamson

Williamson has had injuries off and on starting with the preseason this year and has just five catches this season for 54 yards. But, Clemson has had the tight end involved this year. Three different tight ends have exactly five catches apiece (Cole Downer and Thomas Hunter the others). The group has 15 catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. Downer was injured against Miami (FL) and will not play against NC State. Last year, Clemson tight ends had nine catches for 142 yards all season.

Stuckey Attempting to Join Exclusive Club
Clemson Chansi Stuckey is on the verge of joining an exclusive club in Clemson football history. The junior receiver has accounted for a touchdown three different ways in his a career. He threw two touchdown passes as a freshman quarterback at Wake Forest in 2003. He ran for a touchdown as a reserve quarterback at South Carolina in 2003. He scored a touchdown on a punt return against Texas A&M in 2005. Now he just needs to score a touchdown on a reception to become the third player in Clemson history to account for a touchdown by four different means.

Stuckey has 21 receptions to lead the Tigers in that category this year. He ranks in a tie for fourth in the ACC in receptions per game with 4.2. But, he is yet to get that elusive touchdown. He has 48 career receptions to rank second among active Tigers in that category.

The other two Tigers to account for touchdowns four different ways are Bobby Gage and Ray Mathews. Both did it four different ways in the same season. Gage scored on a run, pass, reception and kickoff return in 1947, while Mathews scored on a run, pass, reception and punt return in 1948.

Clemson Offensive Line Young and Balanced
When someone asks Head Coach Tommy Bowden to rate his top offensive linemen he usually has to pause and think about. Over the first five games, five different offensive linemen have had the highest film grade awarded by Assistant Head Coach Brad Scott.

Dustin Fry
Center Dustin Fry led the way against Texas A&M, senior offensive guard Chip Myrick was the leader against Maryland, junior tackle Marion Dukes had the high grade against Miami (FL), guard Brandon Pilgrim was the best against Boston College and junior Roman Fry was the leader against Wake Forest.

Not listed above are Nathan Bennett and Barry Richardson, who might be the most consistent of Bowden's offensive linemen. Bennett actually leads the team in knockdown blocks with 32, followed by Roman Fry with 23. Roman Fry's total included 11.5 against Wake Forest. Duke has 20.5 knockdowns followed by Richardson and Pilgrim with 20 apiece. Dustin Fry is next with 18. Richardson is a first-year sophomore who was named a Freshman All-American last year.

What is encouraging for Bowden is the youth of the offensive line. Chip Myrick is the only senior among the 10 offensive linemen who have played in a game this year, meaning just about everyone will be back for the Tigers up front on offense in 2006.

Matchup of Outstanding Freshmen Running Backs
Thursday's game between Clemson and NC State will feature two of the top first year freshman running backs in the nation. Both were ranked among the top 10 running backs in high school football last year and both are already leading their respective teams in rushing.

James Davis

Clemson's James Davis of Atlanta, GA has 72 carries for 290 yards and two scores this season. He is the top rusher among freshmen in the ACC so far this season and ranks seventh on the conference rushing charts with 58 yards per game. Davis burst on the scene with 101 yards in 19 carries against Texas A&M in his first career game, the first Clemson freshman running back to gain at least 100 yards in his opening game since Bobby Gage in 1945.

Davis scored his first two career touchdowns at Wake Forest and he also had five receptions in that game, second highest single game reception total in Clemson history for a running back. Davis has 13 catches for 73 yards so far this season and has started four of the five Tiger games. He had 7,339 yards and 80 touchdowns for his high school career.

NC State's Toney Baker has 46 rushes for 216 yards and four touchdowns so far this season to lead the Wolfpack in rushing. He has added eight receptions for 59 yards and scored one touchdown via the air. Baker was the third ranked running back in the nation by rivals.com last year. He set the North Carolina high school state record for career rushing yards with 10,231, breaking the former mark of T.A. McLendon by over 1000 yards.

Merriweather Needs Two for 1000
Clemson junior running back Reggie Merriweather needs just two yards rushing at NC State to reach the 1,000-yard mark for his career. That is quite an accomplishment for the native of North Augusta, GA considering he had just 16 carries his first year and has started just seven games in his three years.

Merriweather is slated to start at NC State after gaining 92 yards in 17 attempts at Wake Forest. He has averaged at least 5.0 yards per rush in three of the five games so far this year and currently ranks second on the team in rushing yards with 272. He has 272 yards in 54 attempts for a 5.0 average. Merriweather averaged 4.9 per rush as a sophomore and has a 4.8 average for his career (206-998).

Merriweather is currently 10th in the ACC in rushing yards per game with 54.4. He and freshman James Davis are both ranked in the top 10 in the conference. Davis is seventh with a 58.0 average.



Yards/Play No Indication
One would think that a leading indicator of success in a football game would be yards per play gained. But that has not been the case for Clemson this year.

Reggie Merriweather
In fact, in each of the first five Clemson games in 2005 the team with the higher yards per play figure has lost the game. That trend continued when Clemson gained 5.7 yards per play compared to 5.4 for Wake Forest on October 1, a 31-27 Demon Deacon victory. The biggest disparity of the year in that area came in the opener when Texas A&M gained an incredible 7.2 yards per play and lost to the Tigers 25-24. Clemson averaged a healthy 5.3 per play that day.

Third Down Conversion Improved vs. Wake Forest
Clemson had its problems on third down in the overtime loss to Boston College as Clemson was 0-11 in that category. It marked the first time on record that Clemson failed to convert a single third-down. But, that improved against Wake Forest as Clemson converted 7-13 opportunities. That was the first time since the 2003 South Carolina game that Clemson had converted on at least 50 percent of its third down opportunities.

Hill Top Draft Choice Candidate According to Kiper
Clemson cornerback Tye Hill is off to a strong start in 2005 and ESPN analyst Mel Kiper has taken note. In his latest listing of top senior NFL Draft prospects, Kiper ranks Hill 14th overall, third among defensive backs.

Tye Hill
Hill has made a seven place jump in Kiper's rankings since the season began. Kiper ranks Southern Cal quarterback Matt Leinart first in his rankings of draft eligible players, followed by Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk. The only defensive backs ranked ahead of Hill are Virginia Tech cornerback Jimmy Williams and Tennessee defensive back Jason Allen.

Hill has 32 tackles to rank fifth on the team, including 25 first hits, which is tied for second on the club. Hill is coming off a career high 11 tackles at Wake Forest, including three tackles for loss. That was a Clemson single game record for tackles for loss by a defensive back. Hill now has two interceptions for 11 yards and three total passes broken up for the season. He also has a fumble recovery for a team best three takeaways, and has a caused fumble to be involved in another turnover.

Press Conference Quotables

Tommy Bowden
Georgia Tech showed a lot of patience on offense in their game against N.C. State. The way that N.C. State plays you defensively with a lot of press man coverage, they take away a lot of high percentage throws. You have got to be patient because eventually you are going to get one. As I talked to the team yesterday I made sure they were aware of the big plays that N.C. State had offensively, they hit an 80-yard touchdown on a post, and had another big passing play. Our team is aware of their big capability on offense, and then we are also aware that when we are on offense we will have to be patient.

I would say that their defensive front is very similar to Miami's. I think that No. 9 (Mario Williams) is probably going to be a first-rounder and possibly No. 90 (John McCargo) as well. You hear a lot about their defensive ends, and No. 91 (Manny Lawson), but McCargo is a guy that could possibly go in the first round if he were to come out early, I think he is only a junior. On offense, I think their tight end (T.J. Williams) may be the best one in the country. The guy at Maryland (Davis) was also very good, but when you talk about the best I think most pro scouts who come through here think of T.J. Williams. So they have potentially three first round guys on their team.

Last year they went into our game having played a lot of press man coverage, but then against us they played a lot of two-deep zone. I think that was probably due to a lack of respect for our running game. I think we are running the ball a little bit better this year. I would anticipate we that we would see a little more man-free coverage than we saw last year.

The off week gives us a little more time as far as formation recognition, front recognition, and things like that. We'll find out how productive this past week was once we play. The team has been in pretty good spirits, I think some of you saw the scrimmage with our scout team guys and our spirits are still high. We are not quite half way through the season yet and the personality of this team is one that shows it will play you hard for 60 minutes. This is also probably the smartest team I have coached in regard to penalties. I also don't think I have coached a team as highly ranked in regards to fewest penalties and fewest turnovers.

This team has developed an identity and I think that demeanor has been good over the open date. As the head coach, I have to make sure that I don't flinch and sit here and try to change a lot of things because obviously we are pretty close. We have to find a way to make one more play.

We have not played out of control where things get discombobulated with things such as penalties, 12 men on the field, or mismanage the time late in the half. We have not done those type of things. We have played very consistently for five straight games. We have played five 60-minute games that have all come down to the last play, and our team has not shown signs of getting tight. We have played five consecutive games that have been decided by six points or less, something that has not happened at Clemson since 1906.

I think the most important thing for our team right now is that we have got to find a way to make one more play. Are our games close? Well, yes they are close. It would be crazy for me as a head coach to go and change a lot of things. I have learned to stay the course. Now if we were losing games by 30 points, then yes we would have to change things, but we have not been doing that.

Clemson Two-Deep Depth Chart

Pos. # Player Hgt Wgt Cl.

LT 79 BARRY RICHARDSON 6-7 335 So.

73 Tim DeBeer 6-6 285 *Jr.

LG 72 ROMAN FRY 6-4 295 *Jr.

74 Brandon Pilgrim 6-6 290 *So.

68 Chris McDuffie 6-5 315 *So.

C 62 DUSTIN FRY 6-3 315 *Jr.

72 Roman Fry 6-4 295 *Jr.

RG 63 NATHAN BENNETT 6-5 300 *Jr.

64 Chip Myrick 6-4 285 *Sr.

RT 75 MARION DUKES 6-4 315 Jr.

67 Christian Capote 6-4 300 *So.

TE 81 BOBBY WILLIAMSON 6-4 260 *Sr.

89 Thomas Hunter 6-4 250 Sr.

84 Akeem Robinson 6-5 260 *Fr.

WR 18 CURTIS BAHAM 6-1 190 *Sr.

80 Aaron Kelly 6-5 180 *Fr.

88 Kelvin Grant 6-2 210 *Jr.

5 Rendrick Taylor 6-1 225 Fr.

QB 6 CHARLIE WHITEHURST 6-5 215 *Gr.

14 Will Proctor 6-2 205 *Jr.

RB 37 REGGIE MERRIWEATHER 5-8 210 *Jr.

1 James Davis 5-11 210 Fr.

28 Kyle Browning 5-7 175 *Sr.

FB 35 STEVEN JACKSON 6-2 260 Sr.

36 Cliff Harrell 6-1 240 *Sr.

WR 2 CHANSI STUCKEY 6-0 185 *Jr.

26 La'Donte Harris 5-11 185 So.

13 Tyler Grisham 5-10 180 Fr.

Clemson Defense

Pos. # Player Hgt Wgt Cl.

DE 86 CHARLES BENNETT 6-5 250 *Sr.

94 Phillip Merling 6-5 275 Fr.

NG 44 DONNELL CLARK 6-3 265 *Jr.

91 Rashaad Jackson 6-3 270 *Fr.

or 7 Cory Groover 6-3 275 Sr.

DT 92 TREY TATE 6-4 275 *Sr.

50 Jock McKissic 6-6 290 Fr.

97 Dorell Scott 6-3 305 *Fr.

BE 93 GAINES ADAMS 6-5 265 *Jr.

98 Kwam Williams 6-3 245 *So.

45 Cortney Vincent 6-1 245 *Fr.

SLB 20 TRAMAINE BILLIE 6-1 205 Jr.

46 Lionel Richardson 6-0 215 *Sr.

42 Maurice Nelson 6-2 215 *So.

MLB 40 ANTHONY WATERS 6-3 240 *Jr.

43 Antonio Clay 6-0 225 Fr.

WLB 32 NICK WATKINS 6-2 220 *So.

31 David Dunham 6-1 225 *Sr.

47 Josh Miller 6-0 215 Fr.

FCB 8 TYE HILL 5-10 180 *Sr.

29 Haydrian Lewis 5-11 170 Fr.

CAT 25 MICHAEL HAMLIN 6-3 195 *Fr.

12 C.J. Gaddis 6-0 205 *So.

FS 24 JAMAAL FUDGE 5-10 190 *Sr.

22 Chris Clemons 6-1 200 *Fr.

BCB 15 SERGIO GILLIAM 6-3 180 Jr.

3 Duane Coleman 5-10 195 *Jr.

Clemson Specialists

Pos. # Player Hgt Wgt Cl.

PK 7 JAD DEAN 5-11 205 Jr.

48 Stephen Furr 6-1 185 *Sr.

P 30 COLE CHASON 6-0 165 *Jr.

49 Jimmy Maners 6-0 190 So.

KO 7 Jad Dean 5-11 205 Jr.

LS (PK) 59 Nic Riddle 6-2 220 *Jr.

LS (P) 54 Colin Leonard 6-3 210 Jr.

HO 30 Cole Chason 6-0 165 *Jr.

PR 2 Chansi Stuckey 6-0 185 *Jr.

KOR 3 Duane Coleman 5-10 195 *Jr.

88 Kelvin Grant 6-2 210 *Jr.

* - has spent one season as a red-shirt player


Pack Pride Top Stories