Sept. 25, 2006
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Tigers Coming Off Complete Game
Pitching a complete game in the Major Leagues is becoming more and more rare as the year’s go on. It has been many years since Clemson fans saw as complete a football game as demonstrated by Tommy Bowden’s Tigers in the 52-3 win over North Carolina last Saturday. Clemson’s 52-7 victory over North Carolina in Death Valley, was Clemson’s largest margin of victory in history over the Tar Heels. Clemson’s victory was the pitching equivalent of a no-hitter.
On the offensive side of the ball, Clemson gained 504 yards of total offense on 324 rushing and 180 passing. The 504 yards of total offense were the most by a Clemson team in an ACC game since the Tigers gained 528 against the Tar Heels in 2003. The 324 yards rushing were the most by a Clemson team since the Tigers gained 328 on the ground in Woody Dantzler,s last home game against Duke in 2001.
Clemson had seven rushing touchdowns, the most by a Clemson team in any game since it had seven in a win over Duke in 1982. The record is 10 against Wake Forest in 1981. At one point in the third period Clemson has more rushing touchdowns than North Carolina had first downs (7-6).
As far as scoring offense is concerned, the 52 points were the most by the Tigers in an ACC game since the 2001 season when Clemson scored 59 in a 59-31 win over Duke at Death Valley. The 45-point margin of victory was the best by a Tiger team in any ACC game since a 55-7 victory over Wake Forest in 2000. It was the seventh largest margin of victory in an ACC game in school history.
On the defensive side, Clemson allowed just 150 yards of total offense, the third best defensive performance by a Tommy Bowden’s coached team, and the best against an ACC team. It was the best defensive performance by a Clemson team in ACC game since 1996 when the Tommy West’s Tigers allowed just 113 yards in a shutout of Maryland. North Carolina had just eight first downs, the fewest by a Clemson opponent South Carolina had just eight in 2004. The +22 in first down margin (30-8) tied for the best by a Clemson team since 1989.
In terms of time of possession, the 38:13 figure was the best under Tommy Bowden coached Tiger team and the best by any Clemson team since the 1992 victory over North Carolina when the Tigers controlled the clock for a school record 42:58.
In terms of special teams, Jad Dean was 7-7 on field goals and 1-1 on field goals, a 42-yarder. Clemson’s kick coverage was outstanding, led by the forced fumble by Sadat Chambers in the first quarter that gave the Tigers the ball first and goal on the North Carolina nine-yard-line. Clemson converted the turnover into a touchdown and a 21-0 lead at the end of the firs quarter.
One stat showed the combined effort of the entire team. Clemson had 504 yards of total offense and allowed just 150 for a +354 yards of total offense margin in the win over North Carolina. That was the largest offensive margin by a Clemson team since Clemson had a +464-yard margin in a 55-7 win over Wake Forest in 2000.
Three Cheers for the Offensive Line
The offensive line certainly had a lot to do with Clemson’s victory over North Carolina, and the 3-1 start overall for that matter. The starting five of Barry Richardson, Roman Fry, Dustin Fry, Nathan Bennett paved the way for the Clemson ground attempt to pick up 324 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns.
James Davis had four of the rushing touchdowns, but was the first one to single out the offensive line after the game. ” I’ve got to give it to my offensive line. Those guys did a great job fighting to push me in the end zone when we were down on the one-yard line. Those guys deserve the credit.”
The offensive line doesn’t get credit for individual statistics, so they take great pride in the team rushing and total offense figures. The numbers 300 (for rushing yards) and 500 (for total offense) are lofty goals for any offensive line, but both were attained in the win over North Carolina.
The Tigers now average 202 yards per game on the ground, 18th best in the nation. The Tigers are 19th in total offensive, gaining 425 yards per game, and third in scoring, putting up 41.5 points per contest. Clemson is also 14th in the nation in fewest sacks allowed with just four in four games. That is tied for the best figure in the ACC.
The five starters in the offensive line now have a combined 111 career starts, the fourth highest total among the 119 Division I teams. Barry Richardson has 24, Roman Fry has 14.
In terms of knockdown blocks, Barry Richardson with 28 and Roman Fry with 10.
Clemson One of Seven Over 200 in Both Areas
One of the hallmarks of an offense coordinated by Rob Spence is balance. The Tigers were the only team in the ACC to rank in the four in the ACC in both rushing offense and rushing defense last season.
The balance has continued this year as Clemson is first in rushing with 202.5 yards per game, and is second in passing at 222.5 yards per contest. That has contributed to a 425-yard average that is first in the ACC by 45 yards per game.
The balance is also shown in the national stats. Clemson is one of seven schools in the nation averaging at least 200 yards per game in rushing and passing. The others are Michigan State, Louisville, Nebraska, Missouri, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State.
Louisiana Tech Visits Clemson
Louisiana Tech comes to Clemson this weekend with a 1-2 record, losses at Nebraska and Texas A&M, and a victory over Nichols State. The Bulldogs have a history of throwing the football and that has continued this year with quarterback Zac Champion, who ranks in the top 35 in the nation in total offense.
Champion has a 131 passing efficiency and has thrown for 664 yards and four scores with just one interception in 80 attempts. His top receiver is Jonathan Holland with 13 catches for 221 yards and a touchdown. Louisiana Tech also has a strong rushing attack led by Patrick Jackson, who has 240 yards to rank 47th best in the nation.
Quin Harris is the top defensive player with 9.67 tackles per game. He ranks 27th in the nation in that category and is third in the WAC Conference.
Tigers vs. Louisiana Tech
While Clemson and Louisiana Tech have met just twice previously in history, it seems like the Tigers and Bulldogs have been meeting on fields of athletic competition on a regular basis of late.
The two teams met in the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, ID at the end of the 2001 season, then the Bulldogs traveled to Clemson for the home opener (second game) of the 2002 season. That was two meetings within a three-game period on the Clemson schedule. Then, last March, Louisiana Tech came to Clemson for the NIT in basketball, a contest the Tigers won for their first postseason win since 1999.
Now Louisiana Tech returns to Clemson in the first year of a two-for-one three-year contract. Clemson has won both of the previous meetings between Clemson and Louisiana Tech. The Tigers captured the Humanitarian Bowl game 49-24 in Woody Dantzler’s last game as a Clemson player. The Tigers threw five touchdown passes in that game, an all-time Clemson single game record. Clemson then won the 2002 game at Clemson 33-13 behind quarterback Willie Simmons, who is now a graduate assistant video coordinator on the Clemson staff.
Another Jack Bicknell Coaches against Clemson
Jack Bicknell will bring his Louisiana Tech team to Clemson on Saturday. He is the second member of his family to serve as head coach against the Tigers in Death Valley. His father, Jack Bicknell, brought Boston College to Death Valley in 1982 and left with a 17-17 tie behind sophomore quarterback Doug Flutie. The following year, Boston College defeated Clemson 31-16 in Boston.
So, dad was 1-0-1 against Clemson in those two games in the early 1980s. Son is 0-2 vs. the Tigers, the loss at the Humanitarian Bowl in 2001 and the regular season loss at Clemson in 2002.The Bicknells are the only father-son combination to coach against Clemson, never mind both coaching against the Tigers in Death Valley.
The younger Bicknell has already won 41 games at Louisiana Tech, a position to took over in 1999, the same year Tommy Bowden’s came to Clemson. He had an 8-3 season that first year, including a 29-28 win at Alabama. His resume also includes a 20-19 win at Michigan State in 2003 and a strong 7-4 season in 2005. His team upset a top 25 Fresno State team 40-28 in the season finale of 2005.
Like Bowden, Bicknell is already third in his school’s history in total victories. Bicknell trails only Joe Aillet and Maxie Lambright on the all-time Louisiana Tech victory list. The school’s heritage includes quarterback Terry Bradshaw, an All-American in 1968 and 1969 who took the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl titles.
Anybody Seen Cole Chason?
Clemson fans have been anxious to see an improved Cole Chason this season, but they will have to wait at least another week. Chason has been in uniform for two home games and is yet to punt. In Clemson’s 54-6 season opening win over Florida Atlanta, he did not appear as a punter. Then in the win over North Carolina, he did attempt a punt, but was roughed on the play, giving Clemson a first down. He never had to return for a punting chore the rest of the game.
This is the first time Clemson has not had to punt for two games in one season since 1988. That year, in consecutive games late in the season against North Carolina and Maryland, the Tigers did not have to attempt a punt. The only other game Clemson has not had to punt in the last 25 years took place in 1981 in the 82-24 win over Wake Forest.
In the two games Chason has punted this year, he has done well, showing considerable improvement over 2005 when he had a 36.4 average and had five punts blocked. So far this year, Chason has 13 punts for a 39.8 average. He has a 37.9 net figure, which would be a career high for the senior if the season ended today. Chason has actually played in all four games this year, as he serves as the holder on Jad Dean placekicks.
Davis Challenging Touchdown Record
Clemson running back James Davis ranks third in the nation in scoring with 13.5 points per game. The sophomore from Atlanta already has nine touchdowns this year. He had four touchdowns in the victory over North Carolina, the first time a Clemson player has scored four touchdowns in a game since 2003 when Chad Jasmin scored four in a 63-17 win over South Carolina.
Davis became the ninth player in Clemson history to score at least four touchdowns in a single game. The record is five, set by Maxcey Welch against Newberry in 1930, and by Stumpy Banks against Furman in 1917. Travis Zachery is the only Clemson player to score four touchdowns in a game twice. He did that twice against Duke once in 1999 and again in 2001 in his final home game.
Davis has now scored at least one touchdown in each of his last eight games. He had a four-game streak to close the 2005 season, including two in the win over Florida State. So far this year Davis, scored one in the opener against Florida Atlantic, then had two apiece against Boston College and Florida State.
Davis still has a ways to go to catch Travis Zachery’s Clemson record for consecutive games scoring a touchdown. He had 13 games in a row between the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
Davis, the sophomore from Atlanta, ranks second in the ACC and 31st in the nation in rushing with 92.3 yards per game. He has been Mr. Consistency in that all his single game totals have been between 87 and 95 yards rushing. He might be the only player in the nation with a 90-yard average without a 100-yard game.
Davis has already equaled his touchdown total from last year when he scored nine to lead the Clemson team. He now has 18 career touchdowns. The school record is 50 touchdowns by Zachery, who played for the Tigers from 1998-01. He is also the last Clemson player to rank in the top 10 in the nation in scoring for the course of a season. Zachery was ninth in 2000 with 9.6 points per game when he scored a school record 18 touchdowns.
Davis is second in the ACC in rushing with 92.2 yards per game and is third in all-purpose running with 105.8 yards per game. Those rankings go with his number-one ACC position in scoring with 13.5 points per game.
Clemson Ground Game Best Since 2001
As stated above, Clemson’s 324 yards rushing were the most since the Tigers had 328 in a victory over Duke in 2001. It was just the fifth 300-yard rushing performance by a Clemson team under Tommy Bowden’s. Clemson now has a 5-0 record under Bowden when rushing for at least 300 yards.
That isn’t a revelation to anyone, as that has been the case over Clemson history. Clemson’s victory over North Carolina in fact marked the 100th win in school history when the Tigers gain at least 300 yards on the ground. Clemson is now 100-3-1 when rushing for at least 300 yards in its history. One of the losses is in fact to North Carolina, when the Tigers had an even 300-yard game in 1976 when Clemson lost to the Tar Heels 27-23 in Death Valley. The only other losses game at Duke in 1957 and to Florida State in 1995.
The Tigers also gained 504 yards in total offense in the victory over North Carolina. Clemson has never lost a game when it has gained at least 500 yards of total offense. Clemson is now 47-0-1 in its history when gaining 500 yards. The only non victory took place in 1991 against Virginia when the Tigers gained 511 yards in a 20-20 tie in Death Valley.
Who Are these Defenders?
One of the stories of the Clemson team so far this year has been the play of Clemson’s defense. The Tigers have allowed just 234 yards per game to rank 12th in the nation in total defense. Clemson is also 10th in the nation in pass efficiency defense.
When the season began, most thought Clemson would have a strong defense. But, when seniors Anthony Waters and Tramaine Billie were lost at linebacker, and Michael Hamlin, a third returning starter was lost due to injury at safety, many thought Clemson would struggle defensive. With these injuries, Clemson has a starting defense that has just two returning starters from last year, Gaines Adams and Nick Watkins.
Adams has been strong again with 3.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss to pace the defense in big plays, and Watkins has been solid and now leads the team in tackles with 31.
But, Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning has gotten strong play from many young players. The Tigers have started as many as six sophomores this year. Among the leaders are linebacker Antonio Clay, who had 12 tackles against Boston College in his second career start, defensive end Phillip Merling, who has 3.5 tackles for loss, and safety Chris Clemons, who had his first career interception against North Carolina.
Over the last two games, conference contests against Florida State and North Carolina, Clemson has allowed just 352 yards of total offense, a good game for many teams. Florida State and North Carolina have a combined 19 first downs in the two games and just 156 yards rushing on 60 attempts, 2.6 yards per carry. Florida State averaged 3.5 yards per play on offense and North Carolina averaged 3.3 yards per play.
Clemson has held three of the first four opponents under 300 yards total offense, usually a positive sign of a Clemson victory. In fact, Clemson is 3-0 this year when holding the opposition under 300 yards and 0-1 when the opposition exceeds 300 yards. Clemson has won six straight games over two years when holding the opposition under 300 yards and is 25-5 under Tommy Bowden’s.
Clemson is ranked in the top 20 in the nation in total defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense, but doesn’t have anyone ranked in the top 10 in the ACC in tackles. The top tackler so far is Gaines Adams has 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks to lead the way in both categories. He also has 11 quarterback pressures.
Clemson Returns to Polls
Clemson returned to the AP and USA Today Coaches polls on September 17 after its win at ninth-ranked Florida State. Clemson was ranked 19th by Associated Press and 23rd by USA Today coaches according to the polls released on Sunday, September 17. Clemson remained in the polls this past Sunday with a #18 ranking by AP and a #19 ranking by USA Today.
The win over ninth-ranked Florida State was the second highest ranked team Clemson has defeated on the road in its history. The only win that is ranked higher is the 10-8 victory over eighth-ranked North Carolina in 1981.
Clemson was 18th in both polls during the preseason this year and remained in that position after the season opening win against Florida Atlantic. Clemson dropped to 26th in the poll points in AP and 27th in USA Today after the one-point overtime loss to Boston College.
The Tigers jumped from unranked to 19th by AP after the 27-20 win at ninth-ranked Florida State on September 16. That was the biggest jump from being unranked to a spot in the polls since the 2001 season when unranked Clemson won at ninth ranked Georgia Tech 47-44 in overtime, then moved to 19th in the AP poll.
Clemson has now been ranked in the top 25 of the AP poll for eight of the last nine polls dating back to last year. The Tigers finished 21sth in the final poll of both AP and USA Today last year.
Spence Coached at Louisiana Tech
Clemson Offensive coordinator Rob Spence spent one season at Louisiana Tech as co offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. That was the 2000 season under current Louisiana Tech head coach Jack Bicknell, Bicknell’s second year.
Louisiana Tech had solid production offensively in that season, as the Bulldogs ranked seventh in the nation in passing offense with a 309.6 yards per game, and ranked 27th in pass efficiency wit h 130.4 rating points. James Jordan, a wide receiver, led the nation in receptions that year with 9.08 per game. John Simon ranked 18th, giving the Bulldogs two of the top 20 receivers in the nation. The team was also 30th in total offense at 412.9 yards per game and Jordan was 28th in reception yards per game.
Clemson Ranked in top 20 in Total Offense and Total Defense
Clemson is ranked in the top 20 in the nation in total offense and total defense this week. The Tigers are averaging 425 yards per game on offense, 19th best in the nation and rank 12th in total defense with an average of 234.8 yards per game allowed.
Clemson is one of just three schools nationally ranked in the top 20 in the nation in total offense and total defense. The others are Missouri (1st in defense, eighth in offense), and Florida (8th in defense, 9th in offense).
Only five Clemson teams in history have finished the season ranked in the top 25 in both total offense and total defense in the same season. The last team to do it was the 1991 Clemson team. That was also the last Clemson team to win the ACC Championship. Clemson was 25th in the nation in total offense that season with a 409.7 average and was fourth in total defense with a 263.2 figure. Clemson finished that year with a 9-2-1 record.
Prior to that, the 1978 team was the last to do it. That 11-1 Clemson team ranked fourth in total offense and 15th in total defense, still the only Clemson team in history to rank in the top 15 in both areas in the same season.
Clemson Has +190.2 Total Offense Differential
As stated above, Clemson ranks in the top 20 in the nation in both total offense and total defense. Clemson has out-gained the opposition by 190.2 yards per game so far this year. If the season ended today that would be a record for total offense differential in a season by nearly 25 yards per game. The existing record for a complete season is +165.2 yards per game set by the 1978 Clemson team that finished the year sixth in the nation in the final polls with an 11-1 record.
The last Clemson team to out-gain the opposition by at least 100 yards per game is the 1991 Clemson team that won the ACC Championship. That Clemson team had 403 yards of total offense per game and gave up just 272.6 for a +130.4 margin. The best total offense margin under Tommy Bowden’s took place in 2000 when Clemson had a total offense margin of 90 yards per game.
Clemson Scoring 41.5 Points Per Game
It is still very early, but Clemson has scored 41.5 points per game so far this season, third best in the nation. The Tigers have already reached the 50-point mark twice, a 54-6 win over Louisiana Tech in the opener and a 52-7 victory over North Carolina in game four.
The record for 50 point scoring games in a season is three, set by the 1950 Tigers who finished the year with a 9-0-1 record and top 10 ranking, and the 2000 Clemson team under Tommy Bowden’s, who finished 9-3 with a #14 national ranking. That was a 50-year time span for the 50-point scoring record.
Clemson’s number-three ranking in scoring is ahead of the school record for the best finish in scoring offense for the course of the season. Clemson’s best national finish in scoring offense in #5, a ranking the 1978 Tigers had when they averaged 31.9 points per game.
Tigers lead ACC in Many Areas
A third into the season, Clemson is well represented on a team an individual basis in the ACC statistics. A Clemson player ranks first or second in the ACC in rushing, passing yards, total offense, pass efficiency, receptions, scoring, punt returns, touchdown scoring, sacks and kick scoring.
From a team standpoint, Clemson leads the ACC in total offense, rushing offense, scoring offense, first downs and third down conversion percentage. Clemson is tied for first in the ACC in allowing sacks. Clemson’s offensive line has given up just four in four games, tied with North Carolina and Georgia Tech.
Clemson Productive in Red Zone
One of the areas of improvement for Clemson this year has been scoring touchdowns in the red-zone. A red-zone opportunity takes into account all drives that have a possession that begin a series inside the opposing team’s 20 yard-line (in other words a first-and-10 or first and goal inside the opponent 20).
So far this year Clemson has had 21 red-zone possessions and has scored 15 touchdowns and three field goals. That is a 71.4 percent success rate in terms of scoring touchdowns (15 of 21 opportunities) and a .857 scoring success rate.
Last year Clemson scored a touchdown just 57.4 percent of its red-zone opportunities, but did come away with points 91.5 percent of the time (43-47), the best in the ACC in coming away with points.
In the Bowden era (eight years) the current 71.4 percent touchdown success rate would be the best if the season ended today. The 2001 team, led by Woody Dantzler, scored a touchdown 27 of 38 opportunities for 71.1 percent.
And in the odd but true stat, Clemson has had exactly 47 red-zone opportunities in four of Tommy Bowden’s first seven years at Clemson.
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