March 9, 2002
Clemson, SC – Keith Kelly and J.J. McKelvey both had 100-yard performances to lead the offense, while Eric Meekins had 10 tackles, a blocked field goal and an interception to lead the defense in Clemson’s first major scrimmage of the spring practice session.
The Tigers worked for two and a half hours on the practice fields behind the Jervey Athletic Center. The scrimmage concluded Clemson’s first week of spring practice. The Tigers will practice three more times this week before taking a week off for the University’s spring break. The annual spring game is April 6 at 1:00 PM at Riggs Field. Kelly, who red-shirted last year, led the running backs with 13 attempts for 109 yards and a touchdown. He also caught three passes. Bernard Rambert started the scrimmage with the first team offense and had five rushes for 29 yards. Head Coach Tommy Bowden had said prior to the scrimmage that Rambert would only see limited action and that he hoped to get Kelly plenty of work. Jasmin had seven rushes for 17 yards and two rushing touchdowns, then added a third score on a three-yard reception.
McKelvey led the receivers with four catches for 104 yards and two scores. He caught two scoring passes from freshman quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, passes that were 24 and five yards in distance. McKelvey also had receptions of 35 and 42 yards from Whitehurst, who was 14-15 for 227 yards and four scores on the day. Whitehurst quarterbacked the second unit against the second-team defense all day. Clemson starting quarterback Willie Simmons faced Clemson’s number-one defense all day and hit on 8-18 passes for 61 yards and a score. He completed a 48-yard scoring pass to graduate student Jackie Robinson. Derrick Hamilton had four catches for 28 yards and two rushes for 12 yards. Receiver Tony Elliot had a strong scrimmage with three catches for 64 yards, including a 28-yard score and had two rushes for 15 yards.
Clemson placekicker Aaron Hunt had a strong scrimmage, kicking four field goals, all from 24-28 yards in length. He did not miss an extra point.
Meekins led the defense with the aforementioned statistics. John Leake, Clemson’s leading returning tackler from last year, added 10 tackles and two sacks, while Rodney Thomas had nine tackles, including a tackle for loss. Leroy Hill added two tackles for loss, as did freshman defender David Dunham.
Clemson ran 101 plays for 522 yards on the day. The Clemson quarterbacks were a combined 24-39 for 298 yards and six scores. Clemson had 64 rushes for 224 yards as a team. The defense recorded eight sacks, however the scrimmage was played with a liberal in the grasp rule so as to avoid injuries to Clemson’s signal callers. There were no injuries in the scrimmage. Strong safety Altroy Bodrick was at the scrimmage, but is being held out of contact this spring as he recovers from a torn ACL. Todd McClinton, who missed most of Friday’s practice due to injury, was back for the scrimmage Saturday and was credited with two tackles. McClinton is working on the defensive line after lettering as a backup tight end last year. “Overall it was a good first scrimmage,” said Head Coach Tommy Bowden. “I thought some players stood out today. Keith Kelly ran well. We wanted to get him a lot of work after red-shirting last year and he ran hard. We know what Bernard Rambert can do. Charlie Whitehurst had a good day throwing the ball against the number-two defense. He did everything we asked of him.”
“J.J. McKelvey stood out among the receivers. We made those 50-50 catches today against smaller defensive backs. But, at 6-4, those are plays he can make. Eric Meekins stood out on defense. He covered a lot of area, blocked a kick and had an interception. We need him to make big plays from that safety position.
“It was good to see Todd McClinton back on the field today. He has played well on the defensive line. He is making progress.”
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