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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC Defensive Unit Stalls Clemson Attack

The North Carolina defense held Clemson to 209 yards of total offense and 65 yards on the ground.

And it constantly stuck Clemson quarterback Woodrow Dantzler on Saturday, limiting the Heisman Trophy candidate to just 166 yards of total offense in UNC's 38-3 win against the No. 13 Tigers.

"Our ability to contain Dantzler is a tribute to the guys working together," said North Carolina coach John Bunting. "There was no special scheme; we just attacked the blocks with vision on the ball carrier."

Bunting had said earlier that in preparation for Dantzler, UNC's defense would need 13 players and a crystal ball.

Although said in jest, when the defensive unit almost incorporated the impossible player lineup, it backfired.

The Tar Heel defense was penalized for having 12 men on the field in the first quarter. The penalty kept alive Clemson's lone scoring drive, which resulted in a 48-yard field goal by Aaron Hunt and a 7-3 score.

But the extra help to cover Dantzler was not necessary. The same hard-nosed play that helped guide the Tar Heels to four straight wins turned out to be enough.

"We just played North Carolina defense," UNC defensive end Julius Peppers said. "We didn't change anything to try and stop Woody."

Contrary to Peppers, Tigers coach Tommy Bowden said the UNC defense did make some changes not seen in its previous games.

"You expect for a team to put in some new wrinkles, and then you've got to make adjustments," Bowden said. "They came out with something they've never done before. Therefore we were making a lot of checks, and that slowed the tempo of our offense down."

Whatever the plan, the defense heavily aided UNC's offense when Peppers snatched his third interception of the season. After he tipped a Dantzler pass early in the second quarter, Peppers lunged forward to the ground and grabbed his own deflected toss.

It resulted in an easy touchdown for the Tar Heel offense and gave UNC an 11-point cushion. Clemson never recovered, and the Tar Heels proceeded to rout the Tigers in Death Valley.

The heady play came on an average day for Peppers, who tallied two tackles and one sack.

But it was not an average performance by Dantzler, who last week pumped out 517 total yards of offense in the Tigers' 45-37 win at N.C. State.

Peppers said the entire team was anxious to limit Dantzler's numbers.

"It got our attention, and that's about it," Peppers said. "We knew he was good and had the potential to do things in a game. But we weren't going to let him do that to us."

UNC senior linebacker David Thornton said, "We knew we could go out and stop Woody."

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