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Past glory spurs the Tigers to reach for the stars in coach Tommy Bowden's third
On most Thursday nights during the past three football seasons center Kyle Young
gathered teammates for burgers and sweet tea at Mac's Drive-In, where they
occupied the 13 orange stools and watched videotapes of the Tigers' greatest
victories on the old Zenith behind the counter. On a wall is a grainy photo of
the 1939 Clemson team, which went 9-1, won the Cotton Bowl and included Young's
grandfather Ed McLendon, who played both ways at tackle. Kyle's father, Ron, has
coordinated TV timeouts between the broadcast booth and the game officials at
Tigers home games for two decades. Kyle's older brother, Will, played guard for
Clemson from 1992 through '95. Having grown up within a half mile of Clemson
Memorial Stadium, a.k.a. Death Valley, Kyle, now a senior, has attended or
played in more than 140 games there.
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| Enemy Lines |
| An opposing team's coach sizes up
"Quarterback Woodrow Dantzler is more like a running back. He can break tackles
and can make you miss. Backup Willie Simmons might be a better passer. He's
going to be a good player. ... Linebacker Chad Carson is tough and smart. You can
tell he studies film. He gets the defense lined up, makes the checks and looks
like a leader on the field. ... Clemson has some athletic defensive tackles [ Nick
Eason and Jovon Bush ]. ... The Tigers signed two All-Americas at wide
"Clemson football is very personal to me, and I want to help my teammates
understand the amazing legacy of success that we've inherited," Young says.
"I grew up watching cocky Clemson teams that expected to win every
Since the arrival of coach Tommy Bowden two years ago, after a 3-8 record in
Tommy West's final season, the Tigers have progressed to six victories in '99
and nine last year. Bowden's theme for 2001 is "double-digit wins,"
and he doesn't have to spell out the primary obstacles to that goal. Clemson has
endured four consecutive three-point losses to Georgia Tech and hasn't defeated
Florida State in nine tries since the Seminoles joined the
"Our goal is to put the Death back in Death Valley," says
senior quarterback Woodrow Dantzler. "It feels as if we've been reaching
for a trophy that's 37 inches above us and we've got a 36-inch vertical jump.
We have to work a little harder to get that last
The Tigers' litmus test, against Florida State, comes on Nov. 3, the day
Clemson celebrates the 20th anniversary of its only national championship
season. "I have this vision of future Tigers players going to Mac's to
watch our 2001 team play," Young says. "I'd like them to see us
finally beat Florida State and have them say, 'That's the team that brought back
Issue date: August 13, 2001
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