Dec. 17, 1999
THOUGHTS ON THE SEASON
To me and most of the players on the team, this season began the second that last season ended. Anytime you finish up 3 and 8, you want to put it behind you and start fresh. It all began with winter workouts at 5 o’clock in the morning four days a week. The strength coaches put us through some grueling training sessions, from which we saw vast improvement heading into spring ball.
Just prior to spring ball we took part in “mat drills” at 5:30 each morning. This was sort of an introduction to our new coaches and their coaching styles. Spring practice was pretty much a different world for all of us, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The coaches attempted to teach us the entire offense in 15 days. The new scheme, which we’re all familiar with now, appeared Greek at the time.
After spring ball, a record number of players decided to come to summer school in order to have the opportunity to train with the strength coaches, and attend classes. Despite the numerous hours spent in the weight room and in the 90 degree heat running, nothing could truly prepare us for what we were to face in two-a-days. The two weeks of preseason practice were some of the hottest and most physical weeks I’ve ever spent playing football.
Finally, game week arrived. We were no longer a ball control offense, the average offensive lineman had lost 20 to 25 pounds, we had become a close group of players, we were a new team, and we felt ready and confident that we could be better than we were the year before. We paid little attention to the preseason put-downs and forecasts of our team, but when we lost to Marshall in a fashion similar to the way we had lost so many games the year before, many players wondered if those put-downs and forecasts just might be correct.
Then we played #19 Virginia, and introduced ourselves to the nation before ABC decided to take us off the air. That game, if any, was the turning point in our season. Players became confident that our new look would lead us to victories, and it did, as we won five more and earned the invitation to the Peach Bowl.
This season was filled with many big challenges. By facing the two top ranked teams in the nation and taking them both down to the wire, we exhibited the toughness and character that became the trademark of this ’99 Clemson football team. No player better displayed those traits than our leader, captain, and quarterback Brandon Streeter. After being knocked out of the UNC game with a broken collar bone, he returned to lead us to a narrow victory over Wake. During his absence Woody Dantzler stepped in played very well. Brandon was always there smiling and cheering us and Woody on. Unfortunately Brandon dislocated his hip in the Georgia Tech game, but he still was positive and supportive as we headed into the game against USC. By winning that game, we gave ourselves and Brandon another opportunity to play this year.
Our main goal coming into this season was to restore credibility to our football program. We tripled our wins against division I-A opponents. We took the only three undefeated teams in the nation down to the wire. We finished second in the ACC, marking the greatest turnaround in ACC history. We were invited to the Peach Bowl, and are presently favored to beat the 15th ranked team in the country. I believe we have met our main goal.
Our next goal is to win the Peach Bowl. Clemson has not been extremely successful in bowl games in recent years, and we hope to change that December 30th in Atlanta. We’ve been preparing pretty hard, practicing and studying film on Mississippi State. We definitely have our work cut out for us as we’ll be facing the #1 defense in the nation. It is easy to see why they’ve been so successful. Their safeties and linebackers are extremely fast, and their line is big, strong, and physical. We’ll have to play with great effort and technique in order to create scoring opportunities on offense. I, along with the rest of my teammates, am looking forward to the game, and I’m sure we’ll come ready to play.
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