The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday April 2nd

Tigers Ground Game Tough to Tame

Game and time: No. 5 Clemson at North Carolina. Kickoff is at 5:30 p.m.

Series: Clemson leads 30-17-1.

Personnel: Clemson - OT Akil Smith (lungs) and QB Brian Carr (torn achilles) are out for the season. DE Terry Bryant (calf) is probable.

UNC - LB Merceda Perry (right ankle) is out for the season. WR Chesley Borders (hamstring) is doubtful. DB Anthony Anderson (shoulder) and RB Rufus Brown (shoulder) are questionable. DE Julius Peppers (concussion) is probable.

The key matchup: Clemson's offense is designed to get opposing defenses thinking about the pass. It's hard not to when the Tigers line up with four- and five-wide receiver sets.

But that just sets up Clemson's potent running attack, which is orchestrated by either quarterback Woodrow Dantzler or tailback Travis Zachery.

The Tigers average 296.0 rushing yards a game to rank fifth in the nation. Dantzler (819 yards) and Zachery (662 yards) are ranked 11th and 29th, respectively, as individuals.

"It's a camouflage offense," UNC coach Carl Torbush said. "It looks like a pure throwing attack, but when they have been at their best they have rushed for more than they have thrown."

That could spell trouble for UNC, which has given up at least 134 yards rushing in three of its last four games.

Clemson wears down opposing defenses by averaging 80.7 plays a game. The Tigers like to get their next play off in 15 seconds, which can catch a defense off guard. But Clemson can also spend a lot of time at the line to further wear down the defensive line and expose it to the Tigers' quick runners.

"They're keeping you in a stance ready to go because you don't know if they're going to go quick or sit you in a three-point stance for 25 seconds," Torbush said.

The Tar Heels will try to rotate players in and out on the defensive line, but Torbush says that will hinge on how quickly the referees spot the ball.

"Usually against a regular offense that goes in the huddle, it's not hard to play a straight 10- or 15-play drive," UNC defensive tackle Ryan Sims said. "But against a fast-paced offense, around eight to 10 is usually the max."

Final analysis/prediction: N.C. State and Georgia Tech have torched UNC's defense late in the last two contest with long runs.Those two performances have put UNC in a tough spot.

The Tar Heels could be 5-1, but instead they're already becoming desperate for a win. This week is not a good time for that.

"I think we're going to bounce back and get ready for this game coming up," Sims said. "Because if we go out there with our heads down, we will get beat 70-0."

It won't be quite that bad.

Clemson 52, UNC 20

Compiled by Bret Strelow


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