Aug. 12, 2003
Clemson, SC –
Clemson conducted a 112-play scrimmage over two and a half hours in Memorial Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. As has been the case for much of the preseason, the defense continued to play a notch above the offense. However, none of the Tiger running backs or receivers fumbled over the entire scrimmage.
Tuesday’s scrimmage was highlighted by a defense that recorded 11 sacks. Leading the way was defensive end J.J. Howard, who had three tackles for loss and two sacks. Gaines Adams, Vontrell Jamison, and Anthony Waters also recorded two sacks apiece in the scrimmage. Linebacker Lionel Richardson led all defenders with 10 tackles.
“The defense played ahead of the offense again,” Head Coach Tommy Bowden said following the scrimmage. “Our defense is just a little ahead of our offense right now as far as execution goes.
“J.J. Howard is one guy who has done a great job from a leadership standpoint. His technique is a little better and he’s playing with more confidence. He’s definitely elevated his level of play so far.”
Other defensive highlights from the scrimmage included a big hit in the open field from newly converted rover Tramaine Billie. The defense also intercepted two passes, with starting cornerbacks Tye Hill and Justin Miller responsible for both. Miller ran his interception back 44 yards for a touchdown.
The offense struggled for much of the practice, but one standout was tailback Reggie Merriweather. He carried the ball 13 times for 54 yards, which included a nine-yard touchdown run. Bowden was pleased with Merriweather’s performance and progress to this point.
“I’d like to see more runs like one particular run he made today,” Bowden said. “I don’t know how long it was, but he got hit three or four times. It wasn’t a very long run, but more so the way he made it.”
Aaron Hunt connected on three out of four field goals in the scrimmage, including a 49-yard effort. The first-team offense had more success from its own 25-yard line than in defensive territory. Following a 39-yard screen pass to Kevin Youngblood, Tiger quarterback Charlie Whitehurst avoided a blitz and hooked up with Airese Currie for a 27-yard touchdown. Whitehurst finished the afternoon with 141 yards on 14-23 passing, while Derrick Hamilton led all receivers with five receptions.
The lone injury of the scrimmage was to defensive tackle Donnell Clark (hip), whose status will be updated at a later time. Clemson returns to the practice fields on Wednesday at 9:15 AM and 5:15 PM to continue its preparation for the season-opening matchup with Georgia on August 30.
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