Search Shop

Tigers Football Faces Tough Challenge From Cavaliers

Sept. 20, 2000

Clemson has hardly been tested in winning its first three games. The No. 11 Tigers should face their stiffest challenge of the young season when they visit ACC rival Virginia on Saturday.

Clemson (3-0, 1-0) has completely dominated its first three opponents. The Tigers outscored The Citadel, Missouri and Wake Forest by a combined 155-16 score to open a season 3-0 for only the fifth time since 1961.

Clemson has won its first four games 11 times, most recently in 1989. The Tigers were 12-0 in their national championship season of 1981 and began 1987 with six consecutive victories.

“I think our players understand that the stakes have now gone up, but until Saturday we will not know if they know how to respond,” Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. “Our players are in unfamiliar territory a little bit right now and while I think they understand mentally what they have to do, we will have to wait until Saturday to see if they can respond physically.”

Quarterback Woodrow Dantzler has been one of the key figures in Clemson’s impressive start. The junior piled up 323 yards of offense in 35 minutes of play last Saturday in Clemson’s 55-7 pounding of Wake Forest.

The Tigers gained 623 yards of offense against the Demon Deacons, the second-most productive offensive day in school history. The Tigers’ 51.7 points-per-game average ranks second in the country.

Dantzler is trying to become the first ACC player to lead the conference in both rushing and passing efficiency. He leads the ACC in both categories, and is second in the nation in passing efficiency.

Dantzler also leads the team in rushing, with 40 carries for 275 yards. Tailback Travis Zachery is next with 226 yards on 45 rushes.

There doesn’t figure to be many turnovers in Saturday’s matchup. Clemson and Virginia are two of five teams in the nation that have committed only one turnover.

The teams enter the game tied for second place in the ACC, one-half game behind Florida State.

Since losing its season opener in overtime to Brigham Young, Virginia (2-1, 1-0) has posted convincing victories over Richmond and Duke.

Quarterback Dan Ellis completed 20 of 30 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns, and teammate Billy McMullen had eight receptions for 189 yards and two scores in last Saturday’s 26-10 win over Duke.

Virginia has won 13 consecutive ACC home openers and is 15-3 in such contests under coach George Welsh.

The Cavaliers feature a standout 1-2 punch of their own in Ellis and running back Antwoine Womack. Ellis has completed over 64 percent of his passes for 849 yards and five touchdowns with one interception, while Womack has carried 48 times for 253 yards and four scores.

Clemson took the first 29 meetings between the teams before Virginia won 20-7 in 1990. Since that game, the Cavaliers are 5-4-1 against the Tigers.