Aug. 28, 2006
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Offense Clemson has eight starters and 21 lettermen returning on offense for 2006. The list of starters on the August 27 depth chart has seven seniors on the first team, one junior and three sophomores.
The offensive line returns all five starters from last year, including seniors Roman Fry, Dustin Fry, Nathan Bennett and Barry Richardson. Bennett is in his fourth season as a starter, while Dukes and Richardson are in their third seasons, respectively. Overall, nine of Clemson’s top 10 linemen from 2005 return this year.
Will Proctor is the starting quarterback, his first year in that capacity. The senior from Winter Park, FL has started just one game and taken just 99 snaps from center in his career as a reserve behind 2005 senior Charlie Whitehurst, who was a four-year starter for the Tigers. Proctor was 13-21 for 201 yards in his only start last year, a victory over Duke. He has completed over 70 percent of his passes in the preseason scrimmages.
Clemson has depth at running back and in the secondary. Chansi Stuckey is the only returning first-team All-ACC player on the offense. He had 64 catches for 770 yards and four scores last year and was also Clemson’s top punt returner. Aaron Kelly and Rendrick Taylor have been in a battle for a starting wide receiver position all fall. Kelly had 47 catches as a freshman, the second highest freshman total in Clemson history. Taylor, who was injured much of last year, had a strong spring, including a record 174 receiving yards in the Spring Game.
The running back position is led by James Davis, the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2005 when he gained 879 yards and scored nine touchdowns. He ranked fourth in the ACC in rushing yards per game, a figure that was enhanced by his 150 yards rushing in the Champs Sports Bowl against Colorado, the second best bowl game rushing total in Clemson history. Reggie Merriweather gained 715 yards rushing and scored seven touchdowns last year. He had three straight 100-yard rushing games at midseason. Freshman Demerick Chancellor, who was Clemson’s top ground gainer in scrimmages in the spring and fall.
Clemson will play as many as six tight ends this year. Players in that position caught 35 passes last year, most by Clemson tight ends since 1975 when all-time great Bennie Cunningham was a Tiger. Thomas Hunter is the top player at that position after he had 13 receptions for 120 yards last season.
Defense Clemson has seven starters and 22 lettermen returning in 2006. The defense is led by seniors Gaines Adams and Anthony Waters, two players who considered turning pro last January. Adams is a first-team All-American by many services and is on the preseason list for five different college football awards in 2006. He had 15 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks last year.
Waters was the team’s top tackler last year with 109, including 13.5 tackles for loss. He is the top returning tackler in the ACC. He had six different double figure tackle games last year. Sophomore Phillip Merling is another lineman who figures to have a strong year, while many sophomore lead the defensive tackle position. Senior Donnell Clark is coming off a torn ACL suffered in the middle of last season. Nick Watkins and Antonio Clay figure to join Waters on the second line of defense. Watkins is a junior from New Orleans who had 99 stops last year, second best on the team. Clay had 27 tackles last year as a reserve. He was in a battle for a starting spot with senior Tramaine Billie in the fall, but Billie suffered a broken foot and will be lost for at least the first five games. He could decide to red-shirt the season.
The secondary must replace first-round draft choice Tye Hill and reliable safety Jamaal Fudge. Duane Coleman is one of the leaders of the defense, remarkable considering he did not enter the starting lineup until the 10th game last year. But the former running back finished strong with 21 tackles in the last three games (all Clemson wins), including a team best nine against Florida State. Michael Hamlin made some freshman All-America teams in 2005, and at 6-3 has the ability to roam the secondary. He had his first career interception last year at Georgia Tech while covering All-American Calvin Johnson.
Clemson has a young defense overall with six sophomores slated to start for Vic Koenning’s unit. Clemson has not had six players who were sophomores or freshmen in the starting lineup for the course of the season since 1994. There are just three seniors slated to start on defense and two juniors.
Special Teams Clemson has a preseason All-America kicker in Jad Dean. The senior from Greenwood, SC led the ACC in field goals and scoring last year when he scored 106 points, second most in Clemson history for a kicker. Cole Chason has been challenged by walk-on Jimmy Maners and it will be a game time decision as to the punter position against Florida Atlantic. Punting is an area Tommy Bowden is looking for improvement. Clemson averaged just 33.5 yards a punt last year when it had five punts blocked.
The return game will apparently feature a pair of first-year freshmen in Jacoby Ford and C.J. Spiller.
2006 Schedule Notes Clemson will play 11 consecutive weeks to open the season, the first time Clemson has played 11 consecutive weeks since 1986. “That is a positive if you get on a roll, like we did in 2000 (when Clemson played the first 10 weeks of the season), but it can be a negative if you run into injury problems,” said Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden. Clemson actually doesn’t play 11 consecutive Saturdays, the Tigers have a pair of Thursday night games (October 12 vs. Temple in Charlotte and October 26 at Virginia Tech). Clemson’s 2006 football schedule includes six bowl teams, including road games at Atlantic Division rivals Boston College and Florida State to open the ACC schedule in early September. Clemson also travels to Virginia Tech for a Thursday evening game in late October. Clemson will have a 12-game regular season schedule in 2006, the third time Clemson has played a 12-game regular season schedule. The other seasons were 2002 and 2003. The Tigers will open and close the 2006 season against teams led by coaches who have won the national championship. Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger guided Miami (FL) to the 1983 National Championship and he will bring his team to Death Valley in the season opener. Steve Spurrier will bring the South Carolina Gamecocks to Death Valley in the season finale November 25. Spurrier coached Florida to the 1996 National Championship. Bowden has gained seven wins over coaches who have won the national championship since 2003. Clemson’s next two games are on the road against ACC upper echelon teams Boston College (September 9) and Florida State (September 16). It will be Clemson’s first trip to Boston since 1983 when Doug Flutie handed the Tigers their only loss in a 9-1-1 season. This will be the earliest date on the calendar that Clemson has played in Tallahassee since 1993. The Tigers have not won at Florida State since 1989. Clemson will return home to face North Carolina on September 23. It will be North Carolina’s only game at Clemson between 2004 and 2011. The Tigers won a thrilling 36-28 game at Death Valley in 2003 the last time the two teams met. Clemson will celebrate its 25-years anniversary of the 1981 National Championship on this weekend. Clemson will meet Louisiana Tech on September 30. The Bulldogs are coached by Jack Bicknell, who brought Boston College to face the Tigers in Death Valley in 1982. it is the only father-son opposing coaching combination in Clemson history. Bicknell also brought Louisiana Tech to Clemson in 2002 for the season opener. The Tigers will travel to Wake Forest for the third time in the last four years on October 7, when Clemson travels to Wake Forest. Clemson has beaten Florida State two of the last three years, but has lost at Wake Forest two of the last three years. Clemson will have just five days to prepare for Temple on October 12, a game that will be played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. This will be Temple’s home game. Four of the last five games will be at home. Clemson will attempt to end its two-game losing streak against Georgia Tech when the Yellow Jackets come to Death Valley on October 21. The two teams have played games decided by five points or less nine of the last 10 years. Clemson will then play at Virginia Tech in a Thursday night match up on ESPN on October 26. The contest will be just five days after the Georgia Tech game and will be just the fifth time (twice in October 2006) since 1933 that Clemson has had just four days in between games. It will be the first meeting between Clemson and Virginia Tech since the Gator Bowl at the conclusion of the 2000 season. They also met in the regular season in 1998 at Clemson and at Virginia Tech in 1999 in Tommy Bowden first season as Tiger head coach. Clemson has not won at Virginia Tech since 1989. Clemson concludes the season with three consecutive home games for the first time since 1998. Maryland travels to Death Valley on November 4. The Tigers have won consecutive games by four points or less on touchdowns inside the last three minutes by Reggie Merriweather against the Terps. NC State will close Clemson’s ACC schedule on Saturday November 11. It will be just the second time in the last five years that the two teams have played on a Saturday. Clemson and Florida State are the only two ACC teams who will conclude their ACC schedule on November 11. The Tigers will have two weeks to prepare for South Carolina, as the annual state rivalry game will be played the Saturday after Thanksgiving for the first time since 1984. The November 25 date is the latest for the South Carolina game since the two teams played on the same date in 1978. Clemson will not play ACC teams Miami (FL), Duke or Virginia during the regular season. It will be the first time Clemson has not played Duke since 1964.
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