Archive for October, 2009

The U Didn’t Know

Posted: October 29, 2009 by El Swann in Football
Tags: , ,

Believe it or not the Clemson Tigers traveled to South Florida and pulled off a major win for the program, defeating the #8 Miami Hurricanes 40-37. The Tigers have won against the Hurricanes in back to back road trips to Florida, which should bring a welcomed booster shot to recruiting. Beating the Canes is no simple task, and Clemson looked like the more athletic team throughout the game. It still early, but this victory could be the first of many special wins for Coach Dabo Swinney.

If you watched the game, it was pretty obvious that Clemson did everything they could to give the game away at times. However, I never felt at anytime Miami controlled the game. From the start, Clemson seemed to set the pace on both sides of the ball. Sure, there was poor player execution, questionable coaching decisions, and at times just pure bad luck. Even so, Clemson found a way to claw out their biggest victory of the season. A victory which could mark the turning point in the season, and become a statement win for Dabo Swinney.

Much of the night it was Clemson’s Heisman candidate C.J. Spiller lighting up the Miami skyline with play after play. Spiller’s 90 yard kick return late in the second quarter showcased his elite speed for the country. Totaling a Clemson record 310 all purpose yards, Spiller made a strong statement for being considered the top player in the country. People laughed a few weeks ago when I wrote that he was the best player in the country and that I wouldn’t trade him for anybody. I guess those folks hadn’t seen him play enough. It’s sad that a grass roots movement is going to have to push Spiller into the Heisman conversation. He deserves to be in New York for the ceremony if he can keep this up.

In the end, Spiller’s heroics were overshadowed by a laser thrown from Kyle Parker to Jacoby Ford that ended the back and forth affair. On 3rd and 11 in the 1st overtime, Parker sent a strike to Jacoby, and a dagger to the Miami faithful. “Vol Alert” was the call, and it was a thing of beauty. One foot to the right and the pass is knocked down, one foot to the left and it might be picked, in a game of inches this 26 yard strike will be remembered for some time. With one bullet pass, Clemson now sits in the driver seat to represent the Atlantic division in the ACC Championship game and controls their own destiny.

The offense was brilliant at times, but it was the defense that made the stops when Clemson needed them the most. After a late interception, when Clemson had the tying field goal in their pocket, Clemson’s defense forced Miami to go three and out and gave the offense a chance to get back on the field. Then in the overtime period, a opening 19 yard run by the Hurricanes turned into only a field goal after the Tigers defense held on three plays forcing the Canes to settle for three. The offense and special teams kept the Tigers in the game, but the defense won this game.

With huge implications riding on every ACC game remaining, I expect the Tigers to put it on cruise control versus Coastal Carolina. All-Time All-Purpose Yards and the Heisman Trophy, take a back seat to what is best for this team. Sure, Spiller could rack up the yardage this week, but he puts the team first. In order to reach the ACC Championship, C.J. Spiller has to be healthy and you just can’t afford to lose him now. I expect C.J. to get his early, and often. You better be in your seats at kickoff, because I doubt you see Spiller once 4 minutes remain in the second quarter. It should be that kind of day for the Tigers.

Tune in this week to TigerNet Talk to see if the Xbox can move to 8-0 while El Swann looks to go 7-1 on the season with his Tiger predictions.


#17 A New Clemson Tradition

Posted: October 27, 2009 by El Swann in Clemson, Football

I would love to take credit for this idea, but JTLTiger over at the TigerNet came up with a great one. He suggests the following:

With the popularity of Buster Hunter’s #17 making the rounds of Tiger players this year, perhaps, Dabo & Co. should consider keeping the ritual alive in the coming years.

The Aggies (a powerfully tradition rich program) have their 12th man jersey. The Tigers can do something similar with #17. Dabo preaches that players play the way they practice, so why don’t the coaches select a player each week who best demonstrates that ‘get after it’ attitude during practice and let him have the honor of wearing #17…and call him “The Hunter”.

What do you think about that idea Tiger fans?

If you aren’t familiar with the story here is a link to Brandon Boatwright’s article from the Tiger for more information about Stanley Hunter’s jersey being passed around the team this year.
Stanley Hunter’s #17
And The 12 Who Will Wear It
The final decision was made on a Thursday this past summer about the playing future of Clemson linebacker Stanley Hunter. Because of an ongoing battle with epilepsy, the sophomore from Byrnes High School in nearby Duncan, S.C., would be forced to retire from football.
Stanley went home the following Friday to be with his family for the weekend. He was devastated. “It hit me so hard,” he said, “I had such high hopes and expectations for all that I had worked for. When I found out that I would have to put those aside, I had so many emotions at that point I didn’t know what to think.”

On Saturday morning, Stanley got a call from one of his best friends, high school teammate and fellow Tiger Chad Diehl. Diehl, who lives minutes away from Stanley’s house, told Stanley that he would be coming over and to come outside and wait on him. Chad and his family pulled up to Stanley’s house to greet him and his family. He came over because he wanted to show Stanley his new tattoo. When Stanley saw the number 17 inked into Chad’s arm he broke down. Last year, Stanley wore No. 17 in his first season with the Tigers — a season in which he compiled an impressive 37 tackles in only 158 snaps. “When Chad came to my house and showed me that tattoo, I couldn’t say anything, do anything — I just started crying,” said Hunter, “he just hugged me and said that everything was going to be alright.”

After that, said Stanley, it was like a snowball effect. Players and coaches wanted to step in to offer their support and encouragement for their brother.

Halfway into the season, the number 17 is still highly visible when Clemson takes the field. After hearing that their teammate and friend would not be with them on the field, Stanley’s teammates took it upon themselves to have a different player wear his number each week this season to honor him.

Brandon Maye, Willy Korn, Xavier Dye, Marquan Jones, DeAndre McDaniel and Diehl have each alternated wearing the No. 17 this year in the Tigers’ first six games. Jamie Harper, Sadat Chambers, Rashard Hall, Crezdon Butler, Kavell Conner and Jeremy Campbell will pass along the No. 17 for the rest of the year. It came to the point where Head Coach Dabo Swinney had to turn down requests to wear Stanley’s jersey number because there just aren’t enough games in the season.

So far, players who have worn the No. 17 have seemed to benefit from it. Fellow linebacker Brandon Maye, the first Tiger to wear Hunter’s jersey number, compiled 14 tackles and hauled in his first career interception in Clemson’s season opener against Middle Tennessee State back on Sept. 5. This past Saturday, junior safety DeAndre McDaniel recorded five tackles and intercepted his ACC-leading fifth interception in a dominating performance against Wake Forest in Death Valley.

The outpouring of support from his coaches and teammates is a true testament to Stanley’s character. “Even though he’s not on the field with us this year, we still feel like he’s out there,” said senior cornerback Chris Chancellor. “We treat him like our brother because that’s what he is to all of us. We love him.”

Coach Swinney was shaken by Stanley’s abrupt retirement as well. “My heart really went out to him,” said Swinney. “I know how hard these guys work just to be out there on that field and he [Stanley] wanted to be with his teammates more than anything.”

But in place of having him on the field with the team this year, Swinney figured he’d offer Stanley an “internship” of sorts. A Parks, Tourism and Recreation Management major here at Clemson, Stanley values his education first and foremost. If you ask him what he wants to do with that degree, he’ll happily tell you that he wants to coach. Knowing that, Swinney wanted to keep him on with the team as a student-coach to give him some valuable experience.

“To be completely honest, he lifted me up way more than I could have possibly lifted him up out of this,” said Swinney. “He never had the ‘woe-is-me’ attitude. His optimism and positive outlook on things really inspired me and the rest of the team as well.”

Stanley credits his family with helping him through these trying times as well. They were there every step of the way.

“My father has always told me that everything happens for a reason and when one door closes another one opens,” said Stanley. When his playing door closed, Stanley’s coaching door was opened and he intends to make the best of his opportunity.

Stanley works predominantly with Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele and the defense. Specifically, he works with his peers at linebacker. The coaches took Stanley under their wing, and six weeks into the season it’s like he had already been on staff. The players took to him because of his personality and great reputation with everyone on the team. It’s been a perfect fit. Stanley has motivated and encouraged his teammates on and off the field. He’s helped players during practices and games to identify problems with coverage. He’s celebrated when the team’s won and encouraged when the team’s lost. When asked if he thought that Stanley would make a good coach one day, Chancellor said: “No doubt in my mind.”

Stanley doesn’t concern himself too much with the intricacies of coaching at this point, nor does he dwell over the thought that his playing career may be over. Instead, he is extremely happy just to be with his friends and teammates on a day-to-day basis.

Certainly, Stanley was anything but pleased when he learned that he would not play this season. But the love and support he’s received from Clemson players, coaches and the community is all the more reason to smile.

He’d be the last to admit it, but Stanley provides this Clemson team with much more than a linebacker or a student-coach. He, just like every member of the Tiger football team, is a part of a tight-knit family that sticks together through thick and thin, powers through adversity, and takes care of its own. “When the situation was first put in the air that I would retire, my friends came to me and told me that they were there for me,” said Stanley. “It really means more to me than I could ever tell them.”