Clemson (9-4, 5-3 ACC)

The Acc

September 03, 2004|By KEVIN VAN VALKENBURG | KEVIN VAN VALKENBURG,SUN STAFF

Clemson (9-4, 5-3 ACC)

Strengths: Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst has started for the better part of two seasons now, and this year, he might just be the best offensive player in the conference. Whitehurst threw for 3,561 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, and he should improve on those numbers. The Tigers also have a solid defensive secondary, led by cornerback Justin Miller, and an all-ACC linebacker in Leroy Hill.

Weaknesses: Clemson lost its two best receivers to the NFL, and its running game looked anemic during spring drills. The Tigers have to replace their starting tackles on offense and defense, as well as their kicker, Aaron Hunt, the school's all-time leading scorer.

Key game: Maryland, Oct. 23. The Tigers have perhaps the most brutal road schedule in the ACC this year, facing Miami, Florida State, Virginia and Texas A&M away from Death Valley. If Clemson wants to be in the race, it needs to find a way to beat the Terps. Tommy Bowden is 0-3 against Ralph Friedgen.

Extra point: Maryland's 21-7 win over Clemson last season drew 51,545 fans to Byrd Stadium, making it the first time in school history the Terps had more than 50,000 fans for three straight games.

2004 schedule

9-4 Wake Forest 3:30

9-11 Georgia Tech 8

9-18 at Texas A&M 7

9-25 at Florida State TBA

10-7 at Virginia 7:45

10-16 Utah State 1

10-23 Maryland TBA

10-30 N.C. State TBA

11-6 at Miami TBA

11-13 at Duke TBA

1-20 South Carolina TBA

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