Clemson-Maryland Game Notes
Oct. 18, 2004
Clemson vs. Maryland Series
Clemson Veterans versus Maryland
Last Season: Maryland 21, Clemson 7
Maryland opened the scoring mid-way through the first quarter. Following a
missed field goal attempt by Tiger kicker Aaron Hunt, Maryland marched 68 yards
on 12 plays before Steve Suter was the recipient of a 25-yard touchdown pass
Following a series of punts between the two teams, Clemson found itself on
the scoreboard. Derrick Hamilton caught a pass on the sideline from Charlie
Whitehurst, then weaved his way for a 70-yard touchdown. The reception was the
longest of Hamilton's career.
Clemson threatened on its opening possession of the second half. Duane Coleman had a 15-yard carry to move the Tigers into Maryland territory. However, Chad Jasmin was stopped short on fourth-and-two and Maryland took over. The Terrapins tacked on the final touchdown in the late portion of the third quarter. Following a punt by Clemson's Cole Chason, McBrien struck one more time through the air. He found Derrick Fenner for a 69-yard touchdown down the sideline. Clemson cornerback Tye Hill thought Fenner had gone out of bounds and then came back in to the field of play. Each of McBrien's touchdown passes occurred in third-and-long situations.
Clemson put together another scoring threat late in the third and into the fourth quarter. Whitehurst hooked up with Tony Elliott on a 21-yard completion, but his fourth down incompletion to Cliff Harrell halted the drive.
Whitehurst finished 22-45 for 320 yards, the second-highest yardage total in his young career at the time. However, he was sacked six times by the Terrapin defense. Hamilton caught seven passes for 175 yards, the second-highest receiving yardage total in Tiger history. Rod Gardner's 182-yard performance against North Carolina in 2000 is the record. The defense was led by LeRoy Hill, who totaled 12 tackles and two for loss. Vontrell Jamison had a 15-yard sack for the Tigers, while J.J. Howard forced a McBrien fumble and had a sack. Jamaal Fudge had seven tackles and two tackles for loss, while Travis Pugh had eight stops and a pass deflection.
Tigers Hope Revenge Trend Continues
Clemson hopes a recent trend continues over the next two games. In each of the first four conference games involving the Tigers this year, the team that won the game in 2003, lost the meeting in 2004. Clemson lost to Wake Forest last year 45-17, then won the contest against the Demon Deacons this year. Georgia Tech, Florida State and Virginia all gained revenge against the Tigers this year for losses in 2003.
Now Clemson faces Maryland, who defeated the Tigers 21-7 in 2003, and NC State, who downed the Tigers 17-15 last year.
Clemson-NC State Game To Kickoff at Noon
Clemson Defense Coming off Record Setting Performance
The --20 yards rushing by Utah State was the second fewest by a Division I-A team this year. The best rushing defense game in the nation this year is a --24 recorded by Florida State against UAB in September. Thus, a Bowden coached team has the top two rushing defense games in the nation this year. Overall, there have been just seven games this year in which an opponent has held a team to minus yards rushing.
Clemson's 11 sacks were the second best single game figure in Clemson history, trailing the 12 recorded against Furman in the aforementioned 1996 contest. The previous best under Coach Tommy Bowden was eight, recorded on two occasions.
Clemson allowed just 139 yards of total offense for the game, the best total defense by the Tigers since Clemson allowed just 105 against The Citadel in 2000. It was the best against a Division I team since Clemson limited Maryland to 113 yards of total offense in 1996. Clemson almost recorded a shutout in the contest, as the Aggies scored on the last play of the game to make the score 35-6. The last time Clemson shut out a Division I-A opponent was a 23-0 win over Maryland in 1998.
The 139 yards of total defense recorded by the Tigers ranks as the 15th best
single game performance this year. The best is an 82-yard total defense effort
by Georgia Tech against Maryland two weeks ago. It is interesting to note that
each of the top three and five of the top 15 single game total defense performances
have been recorded by ACC teams this year.
National Rushing Defense Bests in 2004
National Total Defense Bests in 2004
Clemson Rushing Defense Bests
Clemson Records 11 Sacks vs. Aggies
Clemson has had at least one sack in all six games this year and has a streak of 10 straight games with at least one sack over two years. The team now has 27 sacks for the year, an average of 4.5 sacks per game. This 2004 team is now ahead of the per game record for the course of a season. That record is 4.18, a figure set by he 1992 Clemson team that had 46 sacks in 11 games. The Clemson record for total sacks in a season is 47, set by Tommy Bowden's 1999 team, who had that figure in 12 games.
Unlike some recent seasons when one or two players dominated the sack totals, this has been a balanced effort in 2004. LeRoy Hill leads the way with six sacks, but 13 different players have at least one sack this year. That was the case against Utah State as eight different players combined for the 11 sacks.
Clemson Single Game Sack Bests
Tigers Gain 200 Yards Rushing
Clemson had entered the game with running backs averaging about five yards per rush for the season, but the group had just 86 total carries in the first five games of the year. But, Clemson running backs got 42 carries against Utah State, as Clemson had success moving the chains thanks to the running of Reggie Merriweather and Duane Coleman. And, Clemson never trailed in the contest as the defense continually forced three-and-out possessions. Coleman and Merriweather duo combined for 166 yards in 39 carries and scored three touchdowns.
Merriweather had 84 yards on 18 carries to lead the way, the second highest single game figure of his career, while Coleman had 82 yards on 21 attempts. The junior from Florida also had a 20-yard reception giving him a 100-yard day in terms of yards from scrimmage.
It was no surprise that Clemson gained victory after reaching the 200-yard rushing mark. Under Tommy Bowden, Clemson is 20-1 when it gains at least 200 yards on the ground, including a 17-game winning streak. Clemson's only loss when gaining at least 200 yards on the ground since Bowden has been the head coach took place at Georgia Tech in 1999.
Clemson averages 3.5 yards per rush as a team for the year, but has two players
averaging over six yards per carry. Merriweather has a 6.3 average on 39 attempts
and a team best three touchdowns, while Kyle Browning has a 7.5 average on 14
Collins came to Clemson in August of 2002 after transferring from Tennessee. He spent the 2001-02 academic year in Knoxville where he practiced with both the basketball and football teams, but he red-shirted in both sports. He did the same at Clemson in 2002-03 due to the NCAA transfer rule. That was two full years of practice without playing in any games.
Patience is obviously a virtue of Collins. "Michael Collins is a true team player," said Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden after the Utah State game. "He plays hard at every practice and every game. He never complains, he just does whatever he can to help the team. It was very rewarding for all of us to see him lead us in receiving against Utah State."
Collins was a PrepStar All-American out of Commerce High School in Commerce, GA. He is from the same hometown that sent Terry Allen to Clemson and Allen is Collins's cousin. He was his team's quarterback as a senior when he rushed for 20 touchdowns and also made 134 tackles as a safety when he led his team to a 13-2 record. He averaged 26.8 points and 11 rebounds per game for Commerce High as a senior on the hard court.
Richardson Starting as First-year Freshman
Richardson has now started each of the last two games, the first first-year freshman offensive lineman to start since Stacy Long started against Georgia in 1986. He is on pace to start over the course of this year and if he does, he will be the first first-year freshman offensive lineman in school history to start over the course of the season.
It is unusual for any first-year freshman to serve as a starter over the course of a season, regardless of position. Justin Miller is the last first-year freshman to serve as a starter for the course of a season. The current junior started eight games at cornerback in 2002. Prior to that Robert Carswell started six games at free safety in 1997. Anthony Simmons started 11 games as a first-year freshman linebacker in 1995 But that is it as far as first-year freshman starters for the course of a season over the last 10 years.
Richardson, 6-7 and 350 pounds, came to Clemson from Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, SC where he played for Coach Bob Hayes. The 18-year-old graduated a year early from high school, the first scholarship player to leave high school a year early to come to Clemson. His brother Nate Richardson, is 6-4 and 285 pounds and is a starting tackle at South Carolina State as a red-shirt freshman. Believe it or not, both brothers lived in the same room while growing up.
Clemson First-Year Freshman Starters over Course of a Season
Note: List does not include special teams players. List is since freshman eligibility restored in 1972.
Clemson Schedule ranked Second in the Nation
Three of the top 10 teams in the nation in terms of schedule difficulty are in the ACC. North Carolina, who recently lost at Utah, is second at 80.76 and Florida State is eighth at 78.24. Another Clemson opponent, Texas A&M, is ranked ninth in schedule difficulty with a 77.51 figure.
Clemson recently finished a three-game stretch in which it played at Texas A&M, at Florida State and at Virginia. All three schools are ranked in the top 20 of the latest AP poll, with Florida State ranked fifth. When Clemson played at Florida State and at Virginia in consecutive games it marked the first time since 1966 that Clemson had played consecutive games on the road against top 10 teams. Clemson's major sports have played a difficult schedule of late. Last year the Clemson men's basketball schedule was ranked as the fourth most difficult in the nation by the Sagarin computer ranking with a 82.04 figure.
(Through games of October 9)
Williamson Scores, Records Sack
It was the second touchdown of Williamson's career, his first since 2002. A tight end prior to this year, Williamson scored on a touchdown reception against Georgia Tech on a pass from Willie Simmons in a Tiger victory.
You only have to go back to last year to find the last time a Clemson player scored a touchdown and had a sack in the same game, as J.J. Howard did it against Furman in 2003. The only other players to do it in the last 15 years are Chester McGlockton and Terry Jolly. Jolly had an interception return for a score and a sack against Duke in 1999, while McGlockton turned his double on the same play. McGlockton sacked West Virginia quarterback Major Harris, then recovered the ball in the endzone for a touchdown in Clemson's 27-7 Gator Bowl victory over the Mountaineers in 1989.
Technically, Williamson's score goes down as a punt return. He is the first Tiger to score a touchdown on a punt return and record a sack in the same game.
Williamson had been strictly a tight end in his first three years at Clemson. He played 24 games out of 26 possible contests at tight end in 2002 and 2003. In fact, he started 11 of the 13 games last year and had 12 catches for 205 yards, first among Clemson tight ends. He had five receptions at NC State, most by a Clemson tight end in a single game since 1975, a game that was also shown on ESPN's Thursday Night Package.
The Terps have beaten Clemson three years in a row, all under head coach Ralph Friedgen. In those three games the Terps offense has averaged 21 first downs, 212 yards rushing, 182 yards passing 394 yards in total offense and 29.3 points per game. What is most impressive is a 55.9 percent third down conversion rate during this three-game period on 29-52.
Despite the last two games, Maryland still averages 25 points and 331 yards per game in total offense. They have a balanced 157 per game on the ground and 175 per game through the air. Lading the way on offense are running backs Sammy Maldonado and Josh Allen. Maldonado has 418 yards and five touchdowns, while Allen, who has started five of the six games, has 392 yards and three scores.
Joel Statham has started all six games and has completed 73-129 passes for
961 yards and seven scores. Jordan Steffy is a freshman who visited Clemson
out of high school, but chose the Terps. He has played in four games and has
completed 7-20 passes for 66 yards.
The Maryland defense held the NC State to 13 points, even though the unit spent a lot of time on the field. D'Quell Jackson is a returning starter who has 60 tackles in six games, one of the top five averages in the ACC. He also has two interceptions and four passes broken up. Shawne Merriman was the Chevrolet Player of the Game according to the ABC commentators who covered the NC State game, as he had 15 tackles. He now has 50 tackles for the year, including 10 for loss, five of which are sacks.
Maryland is outstanding in terms of the special teams. Punter Adam Podlesh
has a 45.6 average, and has eight punts in side the 20. He is the primary reason
Maryland ranks first in the nation in net punting. Steve Suter is the ACC's
career leader in punt return yards and he also averages 27 yards per kickoff
Miller is the only player in the nation to rank in the top 10 in both areas
entering games of October 23. He is attempting to become the first Clemson player
to rank in the top 25 in both categories in the same season since Antwuan Wyatt
did it in 1995.
He set an NCAA record for kickoff return yards in a single game when he gained 282 yards in that category at Florida State on September 25. He shattered the previous mark (248 kickoff return yards on 10 returns by Tyrone Watley of Iowa State vs. Nebraska in 1997) by 34 yards. Miller had the record broken by his fourth return and it was just the third quarter.
Miller's day included an NCAA record tying two kickoff returns for touchdown to tie another NCAA record. His first quarter 97-yarder gave Clemson a 7-3 lead at the end of the first quarter and his 86-yarder off a Florida State free kick after a safety brought Clemson within 24-22 in the third period.
The native of Owensboro, KY became the first ACC player in history to have two kickoff returns for touchdown in the same game and the 10th different player (11th occasions) to have two kick returns for touchdown in the same game. Rocket Ismail of Notre Dame (1988-90) is the only player to do it twice. Miller was the first player to do it since Tony Lukins of New Mexico State against Tulsa on October 6, 2001.
He already has three kick returns for touchdowns this year, the two kickoffs against Florida State and a 69-yard punt return against Wake Forest in the season opener. Devin Hester of Miami (FL) is the only other player in the nation with three kick returns for touchdowns this year.
Miller has five career kick returns for touchdowns, three kickoff and two punt returns. The NCAA record for a career is eight, set by Cliff Branch of Colorado in 1970 and 1971.
Miller's season performance includes an NCAA record 282 kickoff return yards at Florida State on September 25, a game in which he also had two returns for touchdown, just the 10th player in NCAA history to have two kickoff returns for touchdown in the same game. Miller also has a punt return for a score He and Devin Hester of Miami (FL) are the only players in the nation with three kick returns for touchdown this year. All three of Hester's are punt returns.
With Miller's performance this year, he is now first in ACC history in career kickoff return average with a 30.9 figure, nearly three yards per return against of former South Carolina player Dickie Harris, who played at South Carolina from 1969-70. Miller is now third in Clemson history in total kickoff return yards with 1422. He is just 131 yards away from breaking Derrick Hamilton's record.
Clemson Career Leaders in Yards/Kickoff Return
Clemson Career Leaders in Career Kickoff Return Yards
ACC Career Leaders in Kickoff Return Average
Clemson Kickoff Returns for touchdown (Chronological Order)
Miller's Kick Returns for touchdown
Special Teams Have Been Special
Whitehurst All-Time Passing Yardage Leader
The next record in range is the touchdown pass record. Whitehurst now has 37 for his career at Clemson, second in Clemson history behind Dantzler's 41. Not bad considering Whtiehurst is just a junior and has played just 28 games, 24 as a starter.
Whitehurst owns 35 Clemson records. He became Clemson's career leader in passing attempts at Florida State and now has 873. He also still holds the record for completion percentage at 58.5, ahead of Dantzler's 57.8. Whitehurst is third in school history in terms of total offense with 6396, trailing only Dantzler (8798), and Greene (6786).
Whitehurst threw for 275 yards in Clemson's loss to Georgia Tech after
recording 288 in the opener against Wake Forest. He had 192 passing yards at
Texas A&M breaking his Clemson record streak of eight straight games with
at least 200 yards passing. In fact, his streak was eight straight with at least
246 yards through the air. He has thrown for at least 246 yards in 17 of his
4 games as a starter.
Clemson Career Leaders in Completion
Clemson Career Leaders in Completions
Tigers Faced Top 10 Teams in Consecutive Games
Clemson has had to play consecutive games against teams ranked in the top dozen in the nation just four times in its history. In addition to the 1983 listing, the other seasons were in 1966 (vs. #9 Georgia Tech and #4 Alabama), 1963 (vs. #4 Oklahoma and #9 Georgia Tech), and 1955 (vs. #2 Maryland and #12 Auburn). Clemson did not win any of those games.
The Tigers then will go back on the road to face first-year ACC school Miami (FL) in the Orange Bowl on November 6, another team currently ranked in the top 10 (third this week). If Miami is still ranked in the top 10 at that time, it would be just the second time in Clemson history and first since 1966 that Clemson has played three road games against top 10 teams in the same season. The 1966 team played at #9 Georgia Tech, at #4 Alabama and at #5 Southern Cal, all within the first five games of the season.
Turnovers a Telling Stat
In terms of points off turnover so far this year the Tigers are being outscored 35-0 in that area. Clemson has lost the turnover margin stat in every game this year, with the exception of the Virginia game when both teams had one apiece. When Tommy Bowden came to Clemson in 1999, his teams were noted for their excellence in that statistics. For the 1997 and 1998 seasons when he was the head coach at Tulane, Bowden's teams finished fifth in the nation in turnover margin.
Prior to this year, his five Clemson teams were 30-9 when at least breaking even in terms of turnover margin and 8-15 when they lost the turnover margin stat. In 2003, when Clemson won nine games, the Tigers were 6-0 when they won the turnover margin statistic. His 2000 team that also won nine games, had a 6-1 record when winning that stat.
Clemson has a history of doing well in this area. The Tigers are the co-holders of the national record for the fewest turnovers in a season with eight in 1940. Notre Dame also had just eight turnovers in 2000. Clemson is also the co-holder of the record for the fewest lost fumbles in a season as the Tigers lost just two in 1994. Fumbles by running backs have not been a problem of late. In fact, over the last 17 games a Clemson running back has lost just one fumble.
Hill Among National Leaders Again
Hill ranked eighth in the nation (prior to October 16 games) in quarterback sacks and he as in the top 20 in tackles for loss. Manny Lawson of NC State is also among the national leaders so that will be an interesting matchup of defenders on October 30 in Death Valley.
Hill was the ACC Defensive Lineman of the week in Clemson's loss to Georgia Tech when he had a season high 14 tackles, including three tackles for loss. He had 13 stops at Florida State, including three tackles for loss and a sack. For his career, Hill now has 262 tackles, 41 tackles for loss and 14 quarterback sacks. He has done this even though he has started just 19 games in his Clemson career. Over his first two years, he played just 182 snaps from scrimmage.
During the preseason, Hill was named to the Butkus, Lombardi and Nagurski Award lists, one of 16 players nationally to appear on all three lists. The only other ACC player on all three was Pat Thomas of NC State.
The 16 Players on Butkus, Lombardi and Nagurski Preseason Lists
Running backs Averaging 4.7 Yards Per Carry
But, that changed against Georgia Tech when running backs Reggie Merriweather and Kyle Browning both had runs of 54 yards or more. Merriweather had a 62-yard run with 8:19 left, then Browning had a 54-yard run with 3:18 remaining. So, Bowden went over five years without a run of more than 52 yards by a running back, then had two five minutes apart.
Merriweather's run against Georgia Tech was the longest by a Clemson running back since the final game of the 1996 season when Raymond Priester had a 65-yard touchdown run against South Carolina in Death Valley. Browning and Merriweather combined for 170 yards in just 13 carries, a 13.1 average against Georgia Tech. They had 15-79 at Texas A&M.
For the season, Clemson running backs are averaging 4.71 yards per carry, the best in Bowden's six seasons at Clemson. So far this year Merriweather has a 6.3 average on 39 attempts and Kyle Browning has a 7.5 average on 14 attempts.
Clemson Running Backs yards/Carry Averages Under Bowden
Here is a comparison of the Bowdens at similar
Currie Leads ACC in Receptions, Yards
For the month of September this year Currie had 23 catches for 325 yards and a touchdown. He added seven catches in the first game of October at Virginia, plus five against Utah State and now has 35 for the season. Currie leads the ACC in both receptions per game and reception yards per game is ranked in the top 30 in the nation in both areas.
Currie had nine catches for 152 yards in the season opener against Wake Forest. The 152 receiving yards in that game rank in a tie for sixth best in school history. He continued his fine performance at Texas A&M with five catches for 64 yards. His nine catches and 152 reception yards are still single game highest in the ACC this year. In addition to his receiving accomplishments, Currie has been outstanding in terms of kickoff returns when he has had the opportunity, averaging 37.3 yards per return. He is averaging 97 all-purpose yards per game.
Currie's reached the 100 mark in terms of career receptions with his
three catches at Florida State and he went over the 1500 mark in yards at Virginia.
He is just the ninth player in Clemson history with at least 100 receptions
and 1500 yards.
Clemson Career Reception Leaders