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August 31, 2010

Countdown to kickoff: Clemson preview

Game 9: Clemson

Clemson wasn't sure who was going to be its quarterback going into the offseason, but the situation got settled when redshirt sophomore Kyle Parker signed with the Colorado Rockies, but was allowed to also play college football. Parker and the Tigers will try to get back to the ACC title game.

Saturday, Nov. 6 * Memorial Stadium * Clemson, S.C.

All-Time Series: Clemson leads 50-27-1

Last Meeting: Clemson 43, NC State 23 (Nov. 14, 2009, at Raleigh, N.C.)

Coach: Dabo Swinney, 13-8 at Clemson and career (3rd year)

2009 In Review: 9-5 overall, 6-2 ACC (1st/Atlantic)

Last Postseason Appearance: Defeated Kentucky 21-13 in the 2009 Music City Bowl

Total Wins 2005-09: 41 (8-8-9-7-9)

2010 Preseason National Rankings: No. 25 by Athlon; No. 37 by Lindy's; No. 41 by Phil Steele's; No. 61 by The Sporting News.

Returning Starters: 15 (7 offensive, 6 defensive, 2 specialists)

Offensive Star: Soph. QB Kyle Parker - The 6-1, 200-pound signal caller settled into a groove in leading Clemson to the Music City Bowl. The Tigers scored at least 34 points in seven out of the last nine games. Parker went 205 of 369 passing for 2,526 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and added 135 yards on the ground with a score. Collegefootballnews.com named him a second-team freshman All-American. He set Clemson freshman records for yards, completions and touchdown passes. Parker threw for four touchdowns in the win over Florida State, and tossed for a career-high 326 yards against Miami. He is also a standout baseball player, who signed with the Colorado Rockies.

Defensive Star: Sr. SS DeAndre McDaniel - The first-team All-ACC selection picked off eight passes and returned them for 128 yards. The Football Writers Association named him first-team All-American. McDaniel finished with 102 tackles (74 solo), five tackles for loss, two sacks, two passes broken up and one caused fumble last year. The 6-1, 210-pounder, who played outside linebacker in 2008, has 11 career interceptions and 212 tackles.

Notable: Five freshmen were named to the Rivals.com All-ACC Freshman squad - quarterback Kyle Parker, running back Andre Ellington, center Dalton Freeman, defensive end Malicah Goodman and safety Rashard Hall … Hall had four straight games with an interception and ranked 19th in the country with six total … The Tigers had seven touchdowns scored by its defense and special teams thanks to C.J. Spiller (five), Jacoby Ford (one) and McDaniel (one). Spiller and Ford have both moved on to the NFL … The 2009 Clemson squad became the first team in school history to defeat both Florida State and Miami in the same season. The Tigers were 8-21 against those two programs going into last season … The offense set a school record with 436 points, and were third in total touchdowns with 54 … Clemson finished with a winning record for the 10th-straight year.

Overview: The Clemson offense was dominant down the stretch, but face huge question marks going into the season. Parker grew into the quarterback role and became a good leader for the Tigers.

Running backs Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper, a junior, will be a solid 1-2 punch, and the duo combined for 909 yards and eight touchdowns as Spiller's backups.

The other big question mark comes at wide receiver. Some highly-touted recruits have a chance to crack the starting lineup. Sophomore tight end Dwayne Allen, who is a physical 6-4, and 255-pounder, could also factor strongly in the passing game. He has 10 catches for 108 yards and three touchdowns last year.

The offensive line is talented and experienced with four starters back. Senior left tackle and junior right tackle Landon Walker, join Freeman at center and junior right guard Antoine McClain. Hairston was second-team All-ACC after recording 44 knockdown blocks and grading out at 79 percent last year. Clemson gave up 19 sacks and averaged 4.8 yards per carry.

Clemson's passing defense ranked 21st in the country (110.9), tied for fifth in interceptions (21) and seventh in passing yards allowed (162.8). The return of ball-hawking safeties McDaniel and Hall, and cornerback Marcus Gilchrist bodes well for that trend to continue. Gilchrist joined McDaniel in having over 100 tackles, recording 107.

The linebackers are led by returning starter Brandon Maye, a 6-3, 230-pound run-stopper in the middle, and he could be flanked by sophomore Corico Hawkins on the outside. Maye had 103 tackles en route to honorable mention All-ACC honors.

Clemson has an enviable defensive line group with 305-plus defensive tackles Jarvis Jenkins, a senior, and junior Brandon Thompson, anchoring the middle. Jenkins was honorable mention All-ACC, and had an impressive 69 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and one sack. Thompson added 50 tackles.

Defensive ends Da'Quan Bowers and Andre Branch, both juniors, and sophomore Goodman. The trio combined for seven sacks. Bowers had 58 tackles and 11 tackles for loss.

Junior punter Dawson Zimmerman averaged 39.1 yards per punt on 55 attempts, and landed 19 inside the 20-yard line. Senior kicker Richard Jackson was inconsistent, but finished with 101 points, going 20 of 31 on field goals with a long of 53, and 41 of 43 on extra points.

Returning Leaders

Passing: Soph. QB Kyle Parker (205-369, 2,526 yards, 20 TD, 12 INT)

Rushing: Soph. RB Andre Ellington (68 carries, 491 yards, 4 TD)

Receiving: Sr. WR Xavier Dye (14 catches, 236 yards, 3 TD)

Tackles: Sr. S Marcus Gilchrist (107)

Sacks: Jr. DE Da'Quan Bowers (3)

Int.: Sr. SS DeAndre McDaniel (8)

2010 Schedule

Date Opponent '09 Result
Sept. 4 North Texas ---
Sept. 11 Presbyterian ---
Sept. 18 At Auburn ---
Oct. 2 Miami W, 40-37 (OT)
Oct. 9 At North Carolina ---
Oct. 16 Maryland L, 24-21
Oct. 23 Georgia Tech *L, 39-34
Oct. 30 At Boston College W, 25-7
Nov. 6 NC State W, 43-23
Nov. 13 At Florida State W, 40-24
Nov. 20 At Wake Forest W, 38-3
Nov. 27 South Carolina L, 34-17
* Georgia Tech game was in the ACC Championship


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