Game #9/Nov. 1, 2003
Clemson (5-3, 3-2 ACC) at Wake Forest (4-4, 2-3 ACC)
Groves Stadium (31,500)/Winston-Salem, NC
Kickoff: 3:30 pm
Television: No broadcast.
Radio: Broadcast by the Wake Forest ISP Sports Network, heard on 16 stations across North Carolina and in Virginia. Voice of the Deacons Stan Cotten calls the play-by-play with former WFU great Ed Bradley serving as color analyst.
On the Internet: With the purchase of a paid subscription, the radio broadcast can be heard live over the web via WFU's athletics homepage: www.WakeForestSports.com.
The Series: Saturday's game marks the 69th meeting between Clemson and WFU. The Tigers lead the series 53-14-1 and are currently riding a four-game winning streak over the Deacs.
Records: Just one game separates the Deacs from the Tigers in the ACC standings. WFU is 4-4 with a 2-3 mark in ACC play. Clemson is 5-3 with a 3-2 league mark.
Rankings: Neither team is ranked. Clemson is receiving a couple of votes in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.
The Coaches: Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe owns a 17-15 mark in his third season with the Deacs. Now in his ninth season as a head coach, Grobe's career record stands at 50-48-1. Clemson's Tommy Bowden owns a 52-27 in his seventh season as a head coach. In his fifth season with the Tigers, he has compiled a 34-23 mark.
WFU Returns Home To Host Tigers In Pivotal ACC Battle Wake Forest returns home after a two-game road stretch to host Clemson on Saturday, Nov. 1 at 3:30 p.m.
The Demon Deacons (4-4, 2-3 ACC) dropped to .500 for the second time this season and slipped to 2-3 in ACC play after falling to sixth-ranked Florida State, 48-24, in Tallahassee last week.
Clemson comes into Groves Stadium with a 5-3 record and 3-2 league ledger after holding on to defeat North Carolina, 36-28, at home last Saturday.
The Deacs are one spot behind Clemson in the league standings as the Tigers are in a three-way tie for fourth place with Virginia and Georgia Tech.
Last Time Out: No. 6 'Noles Too Much For WFU Wake Forest put up more rushing yards (230) and total offense (326 yards) than any Florida State opponent this season, but it didn't show up on the scoreboard as the sixth-ranked 'Noles came out on top, 48-24.
The Seminole victory gave head coach Bobby Bowden his 339th career win, becoming the all-time winningest coach in major college football.
FSU was the highest-ranked foe Wake Forest had faced since the third-ranked Seminoles paid a visit to Winston-Salem in 2000. The Deacs, however, hung tough for most of the first half. After allowing FSU's Xavier Beitia a career-long 48-yard field goal to open the scoring, WFU's Cory Randolph found Jason Anderson for a 38-yard TD toss to go up 7-3.
FSU responded with a touchdown on the next drive, then found the endzone again on a 65-yard punt return in the second quarter. Another Beitia field goal put FSU up 20-7 late in the first half.
Randolph recorded a long run of 41 yards, then followed it up with a 13-yard touchdown run to make the score 20-14 with 1:00 remaining in the half. But the 'Noles took just 45 seconds to tack on another touchdown before heading to the locker room.
Wake Forest was unable to do much in the second half, crossing into FSU territory just three times. Matt Wisnosky added a 32-yard field goal (his first of the season), and quarterback Zac Taylor, seeing his first action of the season, directed a touchdown drive in the final minute of the game. But it wasn't enough as FSU increased their lead with three more TDs in the second half for the final 24-point margin. FSU became the second Wake opponent this season to tally at least 500 yards of total offense (505). On the other side, the Deacons went over the 200-yard rushing mark for the second straight game.
Scouting the Tigers
Wake Forest will face its second Bowden in as many weeks as it hosts Tommy Bowden's Clemson Tigers on Saturday. Clemson brings a 5-3 record -- as well as a two-game road losing streak -- into Groves Stadium.
After losing its season opener to Georgia, the Tigers rattled off a three-game win streak with victories over Furman and Middle Tennessee State at home, followed by a 39-3 win at Georgia Tech, its lone road victory of the season. Since then, the Tigers have been on a lose one-win one pattern, falling to Maryland and NC State while defeating Virginia (in OT) and UNC in its most recent outing.
Clemson quarterback Charlie Whitehurst is one of the ACC's most productive signal callers, ranking second behind NC State's Philip Rivers in passing yards per game (267.2) and third in total offense (267.1).
Whitehurst has a trio of talented receivers to throw to, as senior Kevin Youngblood ranks second in the league in receptions per game (5.9), junior Derrick Hamilton is fourth with 73.5 receiving yards a contest, and junior Airese Currie is averaging 5.33 catches for 72.2 yards per game.
Hamilton, as he was a year ago, is the conference's current leader in all-purpose yardage, tallying 133.1 yards an outing.
On the ground, sophomore tailback Duane Coleman ranks sixth in the ACC in rushing with 55.9 yards per game. He recorded his first career 100-yard game with 111 on 13 carries versus North Carolina last week.
Clemson's linebacker corps features one of the league's best in junior Leroy Hill. Hill is averaging 11.8 tackles per game and leads the conference in tackles for loss with 19. He also has five sacks on the season.
Wake Forest may rank second in the league in kickoff coverage, allowing 19.5 yards per return, but it will face a true test this weekend as Clemson leads the country in kickoff returns with 30.4 yards per attempt. Interestingly, they also rank last in the league in punt returns, averaging just 4.2 yards per return.
The Series With Clemson
* Clemson has won eight of the last nine meetings and is riding a four-game win streak over the Demon Deacons.
* WFU victories have been few and far between in this series. One has to go back to 1949 to count up the Deacs' last seven wins over Clemson.
* Clemson is WFU's fourth most-played rivalry, as the two teams meet for the 69th time this weekend. It ranks only behind the Deacs' rivalries with UNC (99), NC State (97) and Duke (84).
* WFU will be gunning for its first home victory over the Tigers since 1992. The Deacons have won at Clemson's Memorial Stadium twice since then (1993, 1998).
* Four of the last five meetings in this series have been decided by 10 points or less.
* WFU racked up 523 yards of total offense in a 31-23 loss at Clemson last season, the highest such mark in series history.
* The longest pass completion in school history is an 85-yard touchdown toss from Gary Schofield to Tim Ryan when WFU and Clemson met in 1982 in Tokyo.
* Clemson and Wake Forest put up a total of 106 points in an 82-24 Tiger victory in 1981 -- marking the highest combined scoring game in WFU history.
Rushing Game Returns To Form
In 2002, Wake Forest led the ACC with 408.1 yards of total offense and 241.2 rushing yards per game. Wake Forest outgained its opponents in total offense in seven of 13 games and out-rushed them in all but four contests.
So far this year, the Deacs are averaging 86 yards less in total offense (322.6 ypg). WFU's first eight opponents have all outgained it by an average of 114.5 yards per game. The hallmark of WFU's offense the last two years, its ground game, is averaging 177.0 yards per contest -- an average of over 64 fewer yards than a year ago.
Wake Forest's impressive 2-0 start in 2003 (its best since 1999) with wins at Boston College and over NC State may have diminished the fact that eight offensive starters graduated off last year's team. And the Deacon ground game took an early hit when all three running backs went down with injuries in the season-opening first quarter at BC. Chris Barclay and Cornelius Birgs both sprained ankles, while Dominic Anderson suffered a season-ending leg injury.
The running game appears to be on the rise, however. After recording just 56 rushing yards against Purdue on Sept. 13 (the lowest rushing total of the Jim Grobe era at WFU), the Deacs have averaged 243.0 yards on the ground over the last two games -- slightly higher than its total last season. The Deacs also now lead the league and rank 35th nationally in rushing yards per game. Wake's 230 yards on the ground at FSU were the most given up by the 'Noles this season.
Barclay recorded the Deacs' first 100-yard rushing game of the season with 124 yards versus Georgia Tech, then followed that up with a 163-yard performance at Duke. Both he and Birgs appear to be fully recovered from their injuries, while true freshman D'Angelo Bryant, first thrown into action versus ECU, appears capable of providing a spark in the backfield.
Turnover Margin Still In Deacs' Favor One telling statistic that has carried over from last season is WFU's success in turnover margin. The Demon Deacons currently rank first in the ACC and ninth nationally with a +1.13 advantage in turnovers per game. WFU opponents have committed 20 turnovers (10 interceptions, 10 fumbles) while the Deacs have lost 11 (seven picks, four fumbles).
Of the 211 points scored by Wake Forest this season, nearly 27 percent (56 points) have been the direct result of an opponent turnover Conversely, just 12 percent of WFU's opponents' points (23 of 196) have been the result of Deacon miscues.
Wake's advantage in turnover margin could have been even higher. In the two-game set with Purdue and East Carolina in September, the Boilers and Pirates combined to fumble the ball 11 times, but lost just three of those.
Wake Forest's loss to Georgia Tech is the only game so far this season in which the Deacs have not been even or held the advantage in turnover margin. WFU had two turnovers while Georgia Tech committed none. It was also the first time since last year's Clemson game (Oct. 19) in which a Deacon opponent did not commit a turnover.
Wake Forest also led the ACC and ranked fifth nationally in turnover margin a year ago with a +1.38 advantage.
Odds & Ends
Only two true freshman have seen action for the Deacs this season -- defensive end Jyles Tucker and running back D'Angelo Bryant ... Wake Forest is riding a streak of 65 games without being shutout, dating back to a 42-0 loss at Air Force in 1998 ... Tyson Clabo and Quintin Williams have served as WFU's game captains in every game so far this year ... free safety Quintin Williams recorded his 200th career tackle versus ECU ... Williams (229) and linebacker Kellen Brantley (235) are the only current Deacon defenders with at least 200 career stops ... Jason Anderson ranks fourth among active ACC receivers with three 100-yard games (NC State's Jerricho Cotchery leads the league with 11.) ... Anderson's 1,533 career receiving yards also ranks fourth among active players in the league.
King of the Break-Up
No, that doesn't mean he's breaking hearts all across campus, but junior cornerback Eric King has established himself as a key pass break-up specialist and one of the top cornerbacks in the ACC. With 13 career PBU entering this season, King has already matched that number this season -- with at least four more games to go.
Thanks to the four PBU King recorded at Florida State, he now leads the ACC in passes defended with 15 (13 PBU, two interceptions), an average 1.88 per game. His 13 break-ups are also a conference high.
King, as well as senior free safety Quintin Williams, is moving up WFU's career PBU chart. King is tied for fifth with 26 break-ups while Williams is ninth with 22.
King recorded four tackles, two key pass break-ups and an interception in the Deacs' victory over NC State. King's first PBU of the day came on a 3rd-and-goal play from WFU's six-yard line, forcing NC State to settle for a field goal. His acrobatic interception in the third quarter led to a Deacon field goal. Perhaps his biggest play of the game was another pass break-up in the fourth quarter, when NC State, trailing 31-17, faced a 4th-and-30 play from the WFU 31. The change in possession led to WFU's final TD drive of the day which sealed the Deacon victory.
King is doing more than just breaking up passes. He was also impressive versus ECU, recording both an interception and a fumble recovery in addition to three tackles and a PBU. He ranks second in the league in fumbles forced and tied for third in fumbles recovered.
Anderson A Big-Play Guy
Wide receiver Jason Anderson is another Deacon underclassmen who is putting together an all-star type of season. Consider these points:
* Although he wasn't a starter in 2002, Anderson entered the year as one of the nation's top returning receivers in terms of yards per catch. Anderson averaged 23.3 yards per reception last year, a figure that ranked second nationally behind Houston senior Brandon Middleton (24.1 ypc) coming into this fall. * Anderson has caught four of the team's five touchdown passes so far this season -- three of them 38 yards or longer. He had six of WFU's eight touchdown tosses last year. * For his career, Anderson has 82 catches for 1,533 yards -- averaging 18.7 yards per catch. With the required minimum of 75 career catches, he now ranks first on WFU's career average per reception chart, surpassing Todd Dixon's previous school record of 17.2 yards per catch from 1990-93. * The conference minimum for this same category is 70 career catches, so Anderson already appears on that list, ranking tied for fifth (with UVa's John Ford) all-time among ACC receivers. * Anderson had a streak of 14 straight games with at least two receptions -- a streak that was snapped at Duke when he caught just one pass for 44 yards. * Anderson's 79-yard touchdown catch against ECU was the third-longest in school history. In fact, he has caught five passes of at least 57 yards in his career -- all touchdowns. * He reached an impressive milestone in the 2002 Seattle Bowl. He recorded his 1,000th career receiving yard in just his 51st reception. * Wake Forest is 5-2 in games when Anderson has at least one catch of 40 yards or longer.
Plackemeier A Top Punting Candidate Punter Ryan Plackemeier is averaging an impressive 46.6 yards per punt, a figure that ranks first in the ACC and fourth nationally. Southern Cal's Tom Malone currently leads the country, averaging 49.1 yards per punt.
Though just a sophomore, Plackemeier has certainly proved that he deserves a spot on the preseason watch list for the Ray Guy Award, annually given to the nation's top punter. He also received first-team preseason All-ACC kudos from Lindy's magazine going into this fall.
Plackemeier has put nine of his 44 punts inside the 20 so far this season, including three against Georgia Tech. He booted a career-long punt of 67 yards at Duke (the longest by a WFU punter since 1988) and he's recorded eight punts of 55 yards or longer through eight games this season.
At Florida State, Plackemeier punted 10 times for a 48.3 average -- a new WFU single-game record.
Plackemeier earned ACC Specialist of the Week honors for his NC State performance in which he punted just twice but averaged 49.5 yards per boot and put both inside the 20.
Thrown into action as a true freshman in 2002, Plackemeier showed steady improvement over the course of last season. His punting average of 43.2 yards in 2002 would have ranked first in the ACC had he attempted just a few more punts to meet the minimum qualifying standards.
Bracy, White & Williams: A Formidable Tackling Trio The team's top three returning players in terms of tackles -- linebacker Brad White, defensive back Caron Bracy and free safety Quintin Williams -- have simply continued where they left off last fall. The trio currently leads the team -- Bracy with 69 stops through eight games, White and Williams with 53 each.
Bracy, who finished second on the squad with 82 tackles last season, owns a team-best 51 solo tackles to go with 18 assisted stops. He also has two TFL, two PBU, a blocked kick and currently ranks seventh in the ACC with two forced fumbles.
White, who had a team-high 94 stops in 2002, currently has 36 solo tackles and 17 assisted stops this season. He has also been credited with three TFL and two pass break-ups. Williams has 39 solo tackles to go with two TFL, and interception, three PBU and a league-leading three fumble recoveries.
Coming Up Next
Wake Forest hits the road for the final time this season when it travels to Chapel Hill for a matchup with North Carolina on Monday, Nov. 8. Kickoff for the JP Sports broadcast is 12 noon.