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Virginia hopes to cage Dantzler, No. 11 Tigers

It's a good thing the Cavs don't have to play Clemson in Death Valley this year.

Last season at home, the Tigers tore into the defense of the No. 19 Cavaliers, racking up 447 yards of total offense and winning 33-14. Clemson quarterback Brandon Streeter threw for a school record 343 yards as the usually run-oriented Tigers got most of their yardage through the air.

Tomorrow No. 11 Clemson will again rely heavily on its quarterback, as junior Woodrow Dantzler leads the Tigers into Scott Stadium at 3:30 p.m. for Virginia's homecoming game.

In order for the Cavaliers (2-1, 1-0 ACC) to defeat the Tigers (3-0, 1-0), their defense must be able to contain Dantzler, the ACC leader in both rushing and passing efficiency.

Cav coach George Welsh has reason to worry, considering the Tigers lead the nation in total defense and Dantzler's offense is No. 2 in the country.

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  • Clemson's Official Athletic Site

    Dantzler "looks fast on tape," Welsh said. "I think he's faster than [former Georgia Tech quarterback Joe] Hamilton. When he gets in the open field he's so fast."

    Clemson looks formidable after blasting The Citadel, Missouri and Wake Forest at home in its opening three games, scoring an average of 51.7 points per game and winning by an average of 46.3 points.

    Virginia quarterback Dan Ellis knows what he's up against after facing a high-caliber Clemson team last year.

    "I think Clemson is going to do the same thing that they've been doing this year and they did to us last year," Ellis said. "They're going to try and put pressure on the quarterback and really stack the line. That's the way the game is now. They're going to put guys up there and make you beat them."

    The Tigers style of play will be quite different from BYU's and Duke's pass-happy offense and Richmond's option attack. Clemson uses a balanced approach on offense, striking by air and pounding at opposing defenses on the ground. That's not good news for Virginia.

    "Right now, I think the hardest thing is that they're running the ball so well," Welsh said. "It makes it harder to defend the pass when you have to defend the run too. We didn't defend the pass last year very well."

    Clemson coach Tommy Bowden likely will test the Virginia secondary again, but Cav safety Jerton Evans insisted last week that his defense can stop a passing team.

    But the inconsistent Cavalier defense still has yet to prove itself after giving up 447 passing yards to BYU. The young secondary played well against Division I-AA Richmond and the mediocre Blue Devils, but No. 11 Clemson presents a far more difficult challenge.

    "They're a top-10 caliber team. We're going to have to play top-10 football to beat them," Ellis said. "This week is going to be another battle. If we win this, it will set the tone for the rest of the ACC schedule"


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