Aug. 27, 1999
CLEMSON, S.C. – Clemson will be trying to gain its 200th career win in the history of Clemson Memorial Stadium September 4 when Marshall comes to town. The Tigers are 199-78-7 in the previous 284 games in the facility, a winning percentage of .714.
The first touchdown scored by a Tiger player will be the 7000th point scored by Clemson in Death Valley. Clemson has outscored the opposition, 6994-3789 over the previous 57 years of the facility. That is an average victory of 24.6 to 13.3 since the facility was first opened on September 19, 1942.
Marshall will be the 40th different opponent to come to Death Valley. Only seven of the first 39 opponents have a winning record against Clemson in Death Valley, only four who have played Clemson more than once. Florida State, coached by Bobby Bowden, has the best record of any opponent in Death Valley. The Seminoles are 5-0 in Clemson Memorial Stadium, including 4-0 under Bowden.
The Tigers had a 3-4 record at home last year, the first losing season at home for Clemson since 1975. Clemson was last undefeated at home in 1991 when Ken Hatfield’s team posted a 6-0-1 record. Clemson last had a perfect home season in 1990, 6-0-0.
Clemson Schedule Notes
Tommy Bowden picked quite a year to become Clemson’s head coach. He will face one of Clemson’s toughest schedules in years. Seven bowl teams are on Clemson’s 1999 schedule, just the second time in history (1995) that Clemson must face seven teams that went to bowl games the previous season.
Each of Clemson’s first five games are against teams that went to a bowl game last year.
Clemson must face the top two winningest programs in Division I-A or Division I-AA in the 1990s. The winningest team in the 1990s is Marshall with 101 victories this decade, while Florida State is second with 97.
Bowden must face three future Hall of Fame coaches in his first season at Clemson. Virginia Coach George Welsh, South Carolina Coach Lou Holtz and of course, Bobby Bowden, Tommy’s father, are virtually assured of making the hall shortly after their retirement from the game.
Clemson plays just five home games this year, the first time since 1986 and just the second time since 1976 that Clemson has played just five games in Death Valley in a season. Clemson will make up for that in 2000 when the Tigers play seven home games.
While Clemson plays three of its first four games at home, the Tigers must go on the road for five of the last seven, including each of the last two. Clemson has just two home games after October 3.
Clemson will play all Division I-A opponents this year, the first time that has happened since 1985. That year Clemson played Kentucky, South Carolina and Virginia Tech outside the league and finished with a 6-6 record.
Carswell Thorpe Award Candidate
Clemson free safety Robert Carswell is one of 37 preseason candidates for the Jim Thorpe Award. The honor is presented by the Jim Thorpe Association of Oklahoma City, OK and given each year to the top defensive back in the nation. The award will be announced in December as part of ESPN’s College Football Awards show.
Carswell is one of five ACC players on the list. The other conference players are Tay Cody of Florida State, Mario Edwards of Florida State, Lloyd Harrison of NC State, and Travares Tillman of Georgia Tech.
Just two Clemson players in history have reached the semifinals of the voting stage by the Thorpe committee. Donnell Woolford was one of 16 semifinalists in 1988, while Antwan Edwards was one of 10 semifinalists last season.
Carswell is just a junior, but was one of the top tacklers among defensive backs in the nation last year. He was tied for ninth nationally in total tackles among defensive backs and is listed as the fourth best free safety in the nation entering this season according to the Sporting News.
The native of Georgia, who narrowed his college choices to Clemson and Notre Dame coming out of high school, is also a third-team preseason All-American according to some preseason magazines and a consensus first-team All-ACC pick.
Carswell has been a team leader during the preseason according to Tommy Bowden. “With such a young team you need some underclassmen to step up in terms of leadership. Robert Carswell has done that and then some. He is always in the right place.”
Carswell has 153 tackles in two years, already more than halfway to Terry Kinard’s Clemson record for tackles by a defensive back. He has started 17 of his 23 career games and has 10 passes broken up. He had six double-figure tackle games and has had at least eight tackles in 10 of the last 11 games.
DoMarco Fox will join Carswell in the secondary over the course of the season. His status for the Marshall game is questionable due to a sprained knee and sprained ankle suffered on the same play of an August 25th scrimmage. Fox has 21 career starts, more than any other active Tiger, and he has also been a preseason All-ACC selection by some services and polls.
Wofford-Lawyer Challenge Duo Receiving Record
While the 1999 Clemson football team is young in the offensive line, the wide receiver corps has experience. For the first time in school history, Clemson has four players returning who had at least 20 receptions the previous year.
The group is led by seniors Brian Wofford and Mal Lawyer. Both are natives of South Carolina and classmates who have combined for 138 receptions for 1923 yards and 16 touchdowns. They are already ranked eighth in Clemson history among receiving duos from the same class.
The record is 216 catches by Perry Tuttle (150) and Jerry Gaillard (66) from 1978-81. They celebrated a national championship in their senior season. Lawyer and Wofford are just 47 catches out of second place, 79 from breaking the record.
Wofford and Lawyer are already both in the top 20 in Clemson history in total receptions. Wofford is tied for11th with Keith Jennings on the reception list with 78, while Lawyer is 18th with 60. Wofford has 10 career touchdowns, tied for 10th in school history with Bennie Cunningham.
The native of Spartanburg, SC is nine TD catches from breaking the school record, a mark that has stood since 1951. Glenn Smith had 18 touchdown receptions for the Tigers between 1949-51. If he can reach nine touchdown catches this year he will break two records, the career and single season marks.
Tigers Have Young Team
Clemson will open the season with a very young team. Of the top 44 players on the two-deep, 12 are freshmen and 12 are sophomores. The junior class has 13 and there are only seven seniors.
When it comes to starters, the distribution is seven seniors, six juniors, eight sophomores and one freshman. Youth is dominant in the offensive line and at linebacker. Four sophomores are currently listed as starters in the offensive line (T.J. Watkins, Akil Smith, Kyle Young and Will Merritt) and none are seniors. The offensive line has no returning starter for the first time since 1943.
The last time Clemson did not start a senior in the offensive line was 1994. The last time Clemson started four sophomores in the offensive line was 1986, a year that was one of Clemson’s most successful, 8-2-2 record with an ACC and Gator Bowl championship.
Clemson is also young on defense, especially at linebacker. Reggie Herring’s group might be the youngest in history. There is just one junior (Kenzi Ross) and no seniors on his linebacker unit. All three starters are sophomores, the first time since 1983 that Clemson has started three sophomores or freshmen at linebacker. Five of the top six linebackers are freshmen or sophomores this year.
Marshall Among the Nation’s Best
How good has Marshall been in the 1990s? How about more wins than Florida State, the benchmark for greatness in all Division I programs. Marshall has 101 wins this decade, including eight straight double-digit win seasons, compared to Florida State’s 97 wins. Nebraska has 96 and Florida 93 to rank three and four, respectively.
Marshall received national attention when Randy Moss played for the Thundering Herd in 1996 and 1997. He made a mochery of the school’s records and broke many Division I marks. People found out last year that Moss could do those things against anyone, as he was the Rookie of the Year and might have been the best offensive player in the entire league while making acrobatic plays for the Minnesota Vikings.
Marshall was 25-3 with Moss in the lineup for two years. But, fans who thought their level of success would decline when he left were proven wrong. Marshall raced to a 12-1 record last year, including wins over South Carolina and Louisville in the Motor City Bowl.
Who started all this? A coach now just 75 miles from Clemson turned the program around. Jim Donnan, now the head coach at Georgia, took over at Marshall in 1990. After a 6-5 first year, he guided Marshall to an 11-4 mark his second year. He never won less than 11 games between 1991-1995.
The final polls of 1998 and preseason polls of 1999 tell us that Marshall’s national respect level continues to rise. Coach Bob Pruett’s team finished 27th or 26th in the final Sporting News, Associated Press and USA Today polls last year and rank 27th in the preseason polls for AP and USA Today this year. Lindy’s has Marshall ranked 15th in its preseason list for this season.
Pruett has continued the greatness, winning 22 games in his first two years at the Division I level. No coach this century has won more games in his first two years than Pruett.
Pennington Will Challenge Clemson Secondary
While Randy Moss is long gone from the Marshall program, the Thundering Herd still have a star leader, one who could join Moss in the NFL next year. Quarterback Chad Pennington is near the top of the list of every NFL scouting service, Heisman Trophy list and Davey Obrien list published.
The native of Knoxville, TN is the only returning player to college football from the 1998 list of 10 Davey O’Brien finalists, the award given to the top quarterback in the nation. A look to the stats tells us why Pennington is so highly regarded.
First, Marshall has a 34-6 record with Pennington under center. That is 34 wins entering his senior year. Rodney Williams had 32 victories at Clemson in his four seasons and that is still the ACC record.
When it comes to throwing the ball, Pennington will be chasing many national records. He already has 10,102 career passing yards, 702 completions and 85 touchdown passes against just 34 interceptions. He threw 39 touchdown passes in 1997, most ever by a sophomore.
In addtion to his on the field accomplishments, Pennington is the winner of the 1999 Anson Mount Award, an honor presented to the top football playing student-athlete in the nation.
Pennington’s ability will prove to be a considerable challenge for Clemson’s secondary, regarded as one of the strengths of the Clemson team. The Tigers have three starters returning in the secondary, Robert Carswell, DoMarco Fox and Alex Ardley. The fourth starter, Dextra Polite, is a senior with two years of previous experience and he has had an outstanding preseason camp.
Darrel Crutchfield, who had two interceptions in the final preseason scrimmage, also has experience as a starter, while Brian Mance and Kevin Johnson are two first-year freshmen who were among the most highly recruited players on Clemson’s 1999 signee class. Both have been outstanding in the preseason.
Clemson’s 1999 Senior Class
Clemson has its smallest senior class since 1985. Tommy Bowden’s first Clemson team has just seven senior players who came to Clemson as original scholarship players and that includes Terry Witherspoon, who could be granted another year of eligibility.
Overall, there are 13 seniors on the team (including Witherspoon and walkons) and nine of them are on scholarship. A couple of original walk-ons who are now seniors were granted scholarships by the Tiger coaching staff.
Heading into this year the senior class is composed of Bob Bradford (RB), David Evans (DB), DoMarco Fox (DB), Tucker Hamrick (Holder), Mal Lawyer (WR), Damonte McKenzie (DT), Dextra Polite (CB), Darius Rapley (LB), Tim Straup (P) Jason Stockunas (WR), Brandon Streeter (QB), Terry Witherspoon (FB), and Brian Wofford (WR).
Tiger Offensive Line Light, but Quick
One of the keys to success for Tommy Bowden’s teams at Tulane was quickness across the offensive line. His teams wore down the opposition with speed and the pace of the game, not with bulldozing strength.
That will be the approach offensively this year as he institutes an uptempo attack that will feature a game-long two-minute offense with four and sometimes five wide receivers. That means the offensive linemen will have to be able to run all day.
An intense spring practice, offseason and prefall conditioning program have put the Tigers in lean, mean fighting machines shape. The average weight of Clemson’s five starting interior linemen is just 259.4 pounds. That might be the smallest among the 114 Division I schools.
The most dramatic example of the change is demonstrated by a comparison with last year. Clemson’s five interior offensive linemen averaged of 1998 averaged 303.6 pounds per man. Thus, we see a 44 pounds per man drop in weight across the offensive line this year as compared to last season.
Clemson’s 1997 team had an all-time high average weight of 304 pounds. You might be surprised to learn, however, that we don’t have to go back very far to find the last time Clemson’s starting offensive line was this small in terms of weight. The 1985 interior starters averaged 258 pounds across the front. The 1981 National Championship offensive line averaged just 234.4 pounds per man.
Kyle Young and Akil Smith are the leaders in terms of experience at their position. Smith, who played 240 snaps at tackle last year, more than any other first-year freshman offensive lineman in over two decades, has moved to guard this year. Young started the last four games at tackle last year, but will be the starting center this year, a position he played as a high school senior when he was named Mr. Football in the state of South Carolina.
Speed and agility are the watchwords for the entire Clemson team. Out of the 120 players who come to practice each day, only one is over 300 pounds.
Streeter Has Degree and Records
Clemson quarterback Brandon Streeter earned his undergraduate degree in health science this past May and is taking graduate school courses this year. Streeter is the son of Gettysburg Head Football Coach Barry Streeter . On the field, Streeter has been in a battle with Woodrow Dantzler for the starting quarterback position in tonight’s game with Marshall. It is a battle that will probably go down to the wire.
Streeter is the returning starter from last year. He came on strong at the end of 1998 when he completed 74-133 for 887 yards and nine touchdowns over the last four games of the year. He had his best game against NC State when he was 27-38 for 329 yards and three scores. The 27 completions and 329 yards passing were all-time Clemson records. He might have had the greatest second half in Clemson history in that game, completing 20-25 and leading Clemson to 303 yards of total offense and 15 first downs.
Large Crowd Expected for Marshall Game
Clemson Ticket Manager Van Hilderbrand expects the Clemson vs. Marshall attendance to be the largest Clemson home opening day crowd in the last 10 years. Over 75,000 fans are expected to attend the contest that will kickoff at 6:00 PM, the first time Clemson has started the season with a home night game since 1956.
If 75,000 fans turn out for the Marshall game it will be the largest season opening home attendance game since 1989 when a season opener record crowd of 80,508 attended the Furman game. The Georgia game in 1985, which was played on September 21, but was Clemson’s home opener that year, attracted 80,473. Clemson has had over 75,000 for its home opener just five times since 1983, the year the North upperdeck was completed and capacity rose to over 81,000.
Clemson in Openers
Clemson has won 13 of its last 15 season openers. The only opening losses since 1983 took place in 1986 at Clemson when Virginia Tech and Coach Bill Dooley upset the Tigers, 20-14, and at North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1996. That 1986 game with Virginia Tech was a battle of eventual bowl teams, as the Tigers ended the year 8-2-2 and ranked 17th in the nation, while Virginia Tech was 9-2-1 and ranked 20th in the final poll.
Even though this is the 104th season of Clemson football, Clemson has had just 98 home openers in its history because five seasons Clemson did not play a game at home. In the 98 home openers Clemson has a 75-15-8 record against 26 different opponents. Clemson has nearly an identical record in terms of the first game of the season. The Tigers are 77-18-8, regardless of site, in their first game of the season.
Opening Day Records
In 1997, three opening day records were set by Nealon Greene and Tony Horne. Horne had four more receptions than any other opening day performance in Clemson history when he had 10 catches against Appalachian State a year ago. Greene set opening day marks for pass attempts and completions.
Here is a list of top performances by Clemson players in the opening games of the season:
Total Offense: 297 by Billy Hair vs. Presbyterian, 1951Rushing Yards: 204 by Buck George vs. Presbyterian, 1952Passing Yards: 283 by Jimmy Addison vs. Virginia, 1966Pass Attempts: 31 by Nealon Greene vs. Appalachian State, 1997Pass Completions: 20 by Nealon Greene vs. Appalachian State, 1997Passing Efficiency: 235 by Patrick Sapp vs. UNLV, 1993Receptions: 10 by Tony Horne vs. Appalachian State, 1997Rec Yards: 145 by Perry Tuttle vs. Furman, 1979All-Purpose Yards: 246 by Buck George vs. Presbyterian, 1952Tackles: 18 by Jeff Davis vs. Rice, 1980
Austin Keys Clemson Scrimmage August 17, 1999
Javis Austin rushed for 72 yards in just nine carries and scored a touchdown to lead the offense, while safety Robert Carswell had 11 tackles to pace the defense in Clemson’s first scrimmage of the preseason in Death Valley.
Austin was the top rusher in the contest by far. He had at least six yards on seven of his nine carries and scored the first touchdown of the scrimmage on a two-yard run. Chad Jasmin was the second leading ball carrier with 9-35, but the freshman from Louisiana had two fumbles. Senior Terry Witherspoon had 4-22 rushing and scored a touchdown.
Brandon Streeter and Woodrow Dantzler, running neck and neck for the quarterback position, were both 9-21 passes. Streeter threw for 84 yards, while Dantzler threw for 118. Dantzler rushed for 27 yards in 16 carries, while Streeter had 4-21 rushing.
Rod Gardner had the most receptions with 5-43, while Brian Wofford was 4-66, the top yardage total on the day. The longest play of the day was turned in by quarterback Matt Schell, who completed a 34-yard pass to freshman Jeff Scott. Schell was 4-6 for 62 yards passing. Freshman Willie Simmons was 0-5 passing and rushed five times for -1 yards. He has been hampered by a sore shoulder.
Carswell, a preseason All-American, had 11 tackles to pace the defense, but there were other top performers. Chad Carson had eight tackles, while Altroy Bodrick, Kenzi Ross and J.J. McKelvey had six stops apiece. Freshman Marcus Lewis provided some big plays with two sacks and two caused fumbles. Keith Adams also had a fine day with a caused fumble, a recovered fumble, a PBU and half a sack.
Overall, Coach Bowden was pleased with the performance of his team through two-a-days, which concluded Tuesday. Classes begin at Clemson on Wednesday.
“I am happy with the conditioning of the team. I tried to break them at the end, but they wouldn’t break. I think we are ahead of where we were at Tulane at this time in our first year. We still need someone to pull the trigger (quarterback).” Shawn King, a second round pick of the Tampa Bay Bucs, was Bowden’s quarterback both years at Tulane.
“It looked to me without looking at the film that Brandon Streeter was a little bit more consistent than Woodrow Dantzler in the execution of the offense. Matt Schell looked pretty good also. Willie Simmons has had some problems with a sore shoulder.”
Offense Highlights Clemson Scrimmage August 21, 1999
Co-starting quarterbacks Brandon Streeter and Woodrow Dantzler were a combined 18-30 for 271 yards and three touchdowns Saturday to highlight play in Clemson’s second stadium scrimmage of the preseason.
It was a day for the offense as the point production unit scored seven touchdowns and kicked two field goals. All four Clemson quarterbacks took the offense on touchdown drives. The offense was 24-51 for 329 yards and four touchdowns in terms of throwing the ball, while the unit also had 197 yards on the ground in 57 plays.
Streeter, a graduate student and Clemson’s returning starter at quarterback, was sharp all day, hitting 12-17 for 146 yards and one touchdown. Dantzler was 6-13 for 125 yards and two scores. Red-shirt freshman Matt Schell was 2-5 for 24 yards and a score, while first-year freshman Willie Simmons was 4-16 for 34 yards and one interception.
The ball carriers were led by Joe Don Reames, who had a 50-yard touchdown run on a reverse. Javis Austin ran well, gaining 36 yards in 10 attempts. The junior, who is running first-string at tailback, scored the scrimmages first touchdown. Freshman Chad Jasmin had 10-35 rushing, including an 11-yard score, while senior Terry Witherspoon had 8-24 on the ground.
The receivers were led by Rod Gardner, who had five receptions for 78 yards and a score. He started the scrimmage on the right foot for the offense with a 33-yard reception from Brandon Streeter on the first play. Mal Lawyer had five catches for 77 yards, including a 40-yard scoring passing from Dantzler. Freshman Kevin Youngblood caught four passes for 32 yards. Tight end Morgan Woodward had two catches for 35 yards, including a seven yard scoring pass from Dantzler.
Although it was not a big day for the defense, there were some standouts. Keith Adams had 12 tackles, including three tackles for loss to lead all tacklers. Chad Speck had seven stops, as did linebacker Kenzi Ross. Brian Mance had two passes broken up and an interception, while fellow cornerback Dextra Polite had another solid performance with four tackles and a pass deflection.
Terry Jolly was the top defensive lineman with five tackles, a pass broken up and an interception during the goal line drills. Jovon Bush had four tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss.The defense was missing two key starters up front, Damonte McKenzie and Gary Childress. McKenzie is hobbled by a hamstring injury, while Childress has a knee sprain.
Offensively, starting offensive tackle T.J. Watkins missed the scrimmage due to a high ankle sprain. He should be out another week. Running back Shawn Crawford will be out for a week due to a knee injury, while Jackie Robinson missed the scrimmage due to a hamstring injury.
“Today we saw that the offense can be productive when it feels a sense of urgency,” said Tommy Bowden. “We challenged the offense to improve from the previous scrimmage when we scored just two touchdowns. Both Brandon and Woodrow did well. Willie did well also, even though the numbers don’t show it. He had some passes dropped. Javis Austin ran well again, as did Chad Jasmin and Terry Witherspoon. We saw the receivers make some big plays today. Mal Lawyer and Rod Gardner made some big plays. What we need now is some consistency on offense.
“The defense just didn’t make any big plays today. Brian Mance and Alex Ardley had interceptions and there were a couple of sacks, but overall there weren’t many impressive performances on defense. We were happy to see the offense score, but we were disappointed that the defense gave up seven touchdowns.”
Clemson’s Final Scrimmage August 25, 1999
The defense was back to its dominant position on the Clemson football team during the final preseason scrimmage for Tommy Bowden’s Tigers. The Tiger defense had seven sacks, 10 other tackles for loss, nine passes broken up, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries durng the 90-play scrimmage on the practice fields behind the Jervey Athletic Center.
“The defense came back strong and I would rather have it that way,” said Bowden, who is preparing his team for the season opener on September 4 against Marshall. “The offense scored seven touchdowns in the last scrimmage and that was not the way I would like it. I would prefer that the offense never score. We want to have a dominant defense.”
Leading the defense was DoMarco Fox, who had seven tackles, a pass broken up and three tackles for loss from his strong safety position. Fox suffered a bruised knee near the end of the scrimmage and he did not return.
Reserve linebacker Altroy Bodrick suffered a dislocated ankle in the scrimmage and will be lost for at least a month. Terry Witherspoon suffered a sprained ankle. Also missing the scrimmage were wide receiver Rod Gardner (knee), T.J. Watkins (high ankle sprain) and defensive lineman Freddie James (ankle) and running back Shawn Crawford (knee).
Charles Hafley, also a strong safety, had six tackles, an interception and a pass broken up to help the defensive effort. Darrel Crutchfield contributed a pair of interceptions, while Chad Carson had two tackles for loss, a sack and five tackles. Robert Carswell and Damonte McKenzie also had five stops and McKenzie had two tackles for loss.
Brandon Streeter and Javis Austin paced the offense. Streeter completed 7-9 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown, a 20-yard aerial to tight end Pat Cyrgalis. The offense scored just two touchdowns and Streeter was at the helm both times.
Woodrow Dantzler was 3-15 for 29 yards and two interceptions, while Willie Simmons was 2-11 for 23 yards. Matt Schell was 1-2 for 12 yards.
Austin picked up 14-66 rushing the ball and also scored on a seven-yard run. He was by far the top rusher in the scrimmage. Freshman Chad Jasmin had 8-17 rushing. Receiving was balanced. Brian Wofford had 2-11, while Jackie Robinson had 2-14. No one else caught more than one pass.
Clemson vs. the MAC
This will be Clemson’s second football game in history against a Mid-American Conference team, its first meeting with Marshall. Clemson’s only other contest against a MAC team took place in 1992 when the Tigers defeated Ball State, 24-10.
While Clemson has not faced Marshall previously in football, the two teams have played recently in men’s basketball. Marshall has a 3-1 lead in that series, but Clemson won the last meeting, 73-57 in 1996-97.
Coaching Debut Games
If history is any indication, the Marshall game should be a landmark day in Clemson football history. Tommy Bowden makes his debut as head coach of the Tigers and with a large crowd and preseason top 25 opponent in town, it promises to be a festive atmosphere.
Bowden’s predecessors have had memorable debuts. Most of the memories have been pleasant, as Clemson coaches are 14-4-5 in program debut games, a 72 percent winning percentage. Six of the last seven head coaches have won their debut game with the only loss coming to Charley Pell, who battled a 10th-ranked Maryland team to a 21-14 verdict that favored the Terps. In fact, Pell is the only Clemson coach to lose his first game since 1921. In addition to the six wins, there have been three ties by first game Tiger mentors in this 78-year time period.
The most impressive debut for a Clemson coach from a score standpoint was turned in by John Heisman. In 1900 he opened his Clemson career with a 64-0 victory over Davidson, still the largest margin of victory in Clemson history for a coach in his first game. Heisman did not stop with that opener, as his Tigers went on to a perfect 6-0 season, Clemson’s only perfect season in the first 52 years of the sport. He would also defeat South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama in his debut season.
Frank Howard’s first game was against Presbyterian, and he gained a 38-0 victory. Howard called an end-around on his first play as head coach and George Floyd ran 18 yards for a touchdown. Howard went on to win 165 games at Clemson and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1989.
Each of the last three Clemson coaches have had celebrated debut games. Only eight coaches in college football history have made their coaching debut with a program in a bowl game and 25 percent of those coaches were from Clemson. In 1978, Danny Ford made his debut in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, FL against Big Ten power Ohio State and Woody Hayes.
What a debut for Ford, who was only 30-years-old, at the time the youngest head coach in the nation. Not only was it his first game, he was coaching against a future Hall of Famer, a ranked Big Ten team, on national television. Behind Steve Fuller and Jerry Butler on offense, and Bubba Brown and Jim Stuckey on defense, Clemson held a 17-15 lead in the final two minutes. Freshman quarterback Art Schlichter brought the Buckeyes back to field goal range.
But, on a third-and-five from the Clemson 24, second-team middle guard Charlie Bauman intercepted a pass over the middle, the only interception of his career. He ran the ball back and was knocked out of bounds near the Ohio State bench. A frustrated Woody Hayes swung at Bauman and was penalized. The Tigers ran out the clock and the coaching career of Woody Hayes.
Ken Hatfield succeeded Ford in 1990. His first game was in the friendly confines of Death Valley against Long Beach State. The game attracted quite a media contingent. In addition to it being Hatfield’s first game, it was also the return to coaching of NFL Hall of Famer George Allen, who took over the program the previous spring. Newspapers from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles covered the contest….which really wasn’t a contest at all. Clemson scored 10 more points than the 49ers nickname in registering the shutout victory.
Tommy West’s debut as Clemson coach could be called the most unusual in coaching history. Not only was he making his debut in a bowl game, the Peach Bowl against Kentucky, he was taking over a program without having coached the team during the recent regular season. West had spent the regular season as the head coach at UT-Chattanooga, then replaced Ken Hatfield in December.
During bowl game workouts, Clemson players, even seniors, had to wear their names across their helmets so the coaches knew who they were. Some of the red-shirt seniors had been on the Clemson team of 1989 when West had been an assistant, so they bridged the gap.
Those veteran players were key to the 14-13 Clemson victory. Stacy Seegars forced a fumble on an interception return by Wildcat linebacker Marty Moore. Fellow fifth-year senior Brent LeJeune recovered at the Clemson 21. With 20 seconds remaining, Patrick Sapp, now a linebacker in the NFL, connected with Terry Smith for the winning touchdown, the latest Clemson touchdown to win a game since 1958.
Clemson Coaches Debut Games
Coach Year Opponent Site W-L Score
Walter Riggs 1896 Furman A W 14-6 William Williams 1897 Georgia A L 0-24 John Penton 1898 Georgia A L 8-20 John Heisman 1900 Davidson H W 64-0 Shack Shealy 1904 Alabama N1 W 18-0 Eddie Cochems 1905 Tennessee H T 5-5 Bob Williams 1906 Virginia Tech H T 0-0 Frank Shaughnessy 1907 Gordon H W 5-0 John Stone 1908 Gordon H W 15-0 Frank Dobson 1910 Gordon H W 26-0 Wayne Hart 1916 Furman H W 7-6 Edward Donahue 1817 Presbyterian H W 13-0 E.J. Stewart 1921 Centre A L 0-14 Bud Saunders 1923 Auburn H T 0-0 Josh Cody 1927 Presbyterian H T 0-0 Jess Neely 1931 Presbyterian H T 0-0 Frank Howard 1940 Presbyterian A W 38-0 Hootie Ingram 1970 Citadel H W 24-0 Red Parker 1973 Citadel H W 14-12 Charlie Pell 1977 Maryland H L 14-21 Danny Ford 1978 Ohio State N2 W 17-15 Ken Hatfield 1990 Long Beach St. H W 59-0 Tommy West 1993 Kentucky N3 W 14-13
N1–Birmingham, AL, N2–Gator Bowl at Jacksonville, FL, N3–Peach Bowl at Atlanta, GA
March 14, 2019