Originally created 09/13/98

Virginia Tech shuts out Clemson



CLEMSON, S.C. -- The humiliation was too much to bear for Holland Postell.

The Clemson offensive tackle managed to keep his tears in check after the Tigers suffered one of their most embarrassing losses ever at Death Valley -- a 37-0 pounding by Virginia Tech.

But his words told the story of a 300-pound man who, on the inside, was crying nonetheless.

"We take pride in playing here but, for what happened today, I'd like to apologize," the Tigers' senior captain said. "I'm ashamed."

What happened was easily the low point in five years under Clemson coach Tommy West.

By dominating every phase of the contest, Virginia Tech (2-0) dealt Clemson (1-1) its first shutout loss at Memorial Stadium since 1979. It was also the Tigers' worst defeat since Georgia's 41-0 victory here in 1976.

"We got whipped, and we got whipped good, starting with me on down the line," West said. "We have to accept it. It's not gonna go away. We're not gonna make excuses. We have to make sure it never happens again."

Just how bad was it?

Against a Hokies defense that manhandled the Tigers' offensive line with an endless array of blitzes, Clemson finished with more penalty yards (116) than total offense (102), and had five turnovers -- the most in five-plus seasons under West.

Under the gun all afternoon and defenseless against the Hokies' pass rush, quarterback Brandon Streeter was sacked three times, threw four interceptions and completed just six of 23 passes for 64 yards.

Then there's the Tigers' once-proud running game, held to just 31 yards on 31 attempts.

And as the offense continued to sputter in the second quarter, it wasn't long before the defense compounded the misery.

After managing only a field goal in the first quarter, the Hokies exploded for 31 unanswered points -- the most Clemson ever has allowed in a quarter.

Quarterback Al Clark struck for several big plays, including a 49-yard pass to freshman Andre Davis on a drive that ended with Tech's second touchdown of the second quarter, and a 56-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Clark that made it 24-0.

"We made about every mistake you could possibly make in the first half," West said. "Eleven penalties, and we turn the ball over three times in the first half? We've got to do it all better, and I'm responsible for all of it."

But, still, the most troublesome performance came from the offensive line. The Hokies' overpowered the Tigers play after play.

Even Postell would admit that.

"It's not like (Virginia Tech) just decided to (pressure) us; that's the type of defense they run," the 6-foot-6, 293-pounder said. "I didn't play that well, and I don't think anyone can say they played well today. If they do, they're just fooling themselves."

West was especially shocked at Virginia Tech's quickness.

"Regardless of what we did, we were just a step slower on everything," West said. "That completely surprised me."

Hokies outside linebacker Lorenzo Ferguson, who had a career-high three interceptions, felt Clemson took his team lightly. He even suggested Tech's 42-3 loss to the Tigers' Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina in the Gator Bowl last New Year's Day had something to do with it.

"We came out here and they were jumping around acting like they didn't respect us, and that's motivation for us," Ferguson said. "They probably saw what happened against North Carolina, how we got blown out, and they figured they were gonna do the same to us."

With the ACC opener at Virginia up next Saturday, West knows there's a ton of work to do.

"I dont think we'll make wholesale changes, we're playing the best players now," West said. "We've got to correct the mistakes. We've got to get better in every area."