Opponent Spotlight: Gaines Adams

Preseason All-ACC defensive end Gaines Adams says if he wasn't at Clemson, he would be playing football for North Carolina. His favorite pro athlete? Michael Jordan. But Adams will be wearing purple and orange Saturday when the Tar Heels travel to Death Valley, and that's a concern for the UNC offense.

"He's a heck of a player," senior tackle Brian Chacos said. "It's going to be a good bar to see where we are as an offensive line. Hopefully we'll do a good job and we'll be able to run the ball."

Both Chacos, and sophomore Garrett Reynolds will pull duty on Adams, who needs 10.5 more sacks to break the school record of 28 set by Michael Dean Perry 19 years ago. NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. predicts Adams, a fifth-year senior, will be the No. 2 overall pick.

Something will have to give, as the Carolina offensive line has allowed just two sacks in three games – both, Chacos said, were coverage sacks.

"It's hard to play tackle in the ACC with so many good defensive ends you have to go up against every week," Chacos said. "Clemson has got the top defensive draft pick next year in Gaines Adams."

In three games, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Adams already has 13 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, a pass breakup and seven quarterback pressures. For his career, he has 18 sacks, 119 tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss and 48 hurries.

In last week's win over Florida State, Adams earned ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors with seven tackles and 1.5 sacks. The Tigers allowed just one touchdown and 204 yards of total offense, 102 rushing and 102 passing. It was the fewest yards of total offense a Clemson defense has ever allowed against Florida State.

John Bunting said of Adams, "He's extremely fast. He'll play wide. He'll threaten the offensive tackles in terms of his size and speed. He'll hit our line really wide and put a lot of pressure on those guys. He's got a really good first step. He's tall, which is what you look for on the defensive end."

Last season, Adams' 9.5 sacks ranked fourth-best in the conference. He also led the Tigers' defensive linemen with 56 tackles. In the win over Colorado in the Champs Sports Bowl, Adams registered seven stops, including two sacks and forced fumble.

Pro Football Weekly named him All-America honorable mention in 2005.

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