- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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"He's in for a hard afternoon. We're going to send the dogs after him," promised Tiger inside linebacker Ed McDaniel.
Hearing those remarks, Moore smiled broadly. "Sometimes I like to be hit," he said. "Gets the juices flowing." It was just after noon on the day before the game, and Moore and center Trevor Ryals were lying around their apartment—Moore on his bed, Ryals facedown on the carpet like a grounded zeppelin.
"Pretty mouthy this year, aren't they?" said Ryals, vaguely annoyed. "Must be that new coach. Ford never used to let 'em run their mouths like that."
"Hey, Trevs," said Moore. "What are we going to do today?"
"Well, we'll have to eat lunch pretty soon. Then, how about if we go rent a couple of Nintendo games?" Not exactly quaking in their flip-flops, these two.
Not everyone was so sanguine the day before the big game. Virginia defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani, in particular, fretted about his linebackers. In stark contrast to Clemson's linebacking corps—considered the deepest and most talented in college football—Virginia's were thought to be both callow and shallow, especially on the inside. "They'll attack us there," said Spaziani. "Until we prove we can stop them, they'll run right at us, try to bloody our nose."
Indeed, the Wahoos' defense was packing its nostrils with cotton less than two minutes into the second quarter. Clemson led 7-0, having scored on a six-minute, 28-second drive that was the football equivalent of demolition by wrecking ball. On five of the drive's 13 plays, the Tigers lined up in a full-house backfield with two tight ends, all but announcing, Yo, Virginia! We're running the fullback off the center's right buttock. Stop us if you can.
In the second quarter, with the Clemson offensive line still kicking sand in the Cavaliers' faces, 19-year-old Virginia defensive end Chris Slade made successive plays that changed the complexion of the game. First, he pressured Clemson quarterback DeChane Cameron into an intentional grounding; then, on the ensuing third-and-22, Slade beat All-America tackle Stacy Long to the outside and blindsided Cameron.
"When I got to the quarterback," recalled Slade, "it was like Christmas." Which is probably not how Cameron, who fumbled the ball on the play, will remember it. "I have a little vendetta against Clemson," said Slade, who was recruited by both schools. "Their assistant coaches bad-mouthed Virginia a lot, and I wanted to show 'em I made the right decision." Slade's early Christmas gift to his teammates set up the field goal that sent Virginia into the dressing room down by a single point, 7-6.
The play of the game came neither on Cameron's fumble nor on Cavalier tailback Terry Kirby's second-half, four-yard touchdown run that made the score 13-7 Virginia. It came four downs after Kirby's touchdown, when Chris Gardocki, Clem-son's terrific left-footed punter, sailed a lazy 55-yard spiral into the arms of a back-pedaling Jason Wallace.