CLEMSON, S.C. -- If familiarity truly breeds contempt, Clemson's defense can unload 18 months worth of frustration against Missouri.
All those practices facing a highly-combustible offense can be used as fuel against Saturday's Death Valley visitors. Missouri scrapped its archaic power-running offensive scheme in favor of a wide-open aerial assault.
Clemson senior defensive end Terry Bryant recognizes the multi-receiver formations. He's well-acquainted with the pass-happy philosophy because he's confronted the system every day in practice since Tommy Bowden installed his high-octane offense in the spring of 1999.
Discipline and knowledge acquired combating Bowden's scheme will be utilized by Clemson in its 3:30 p.m. (Channel 6) meeting with Missouri.
"Against our offense we develop a lot of habits," Bryant said. "Those habits will come back against Missouri."
In an effort to resuscitate his offense, Missouri coach Larry Smith lured new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit away from Western Michigan. Cubit was the architect of the Bronco's volatile passing offense, which ranked 11th nationally (311.8 ypg) in 1999 and 23rd in scoring (31.1 ppg).
Missouri averaged 177.7 passing yards and was 95th nationally in scoring offense (20.4) last season. Gone is the one-dimensional power-running scheme that resulted in a 4-7 1999 campaign. The Tigers from Columbia, Mo., boast an offensive line averaging 308 pounds and haven't completely abandoned the ground game.
"They're more of a pro-style offense," said sophomore defensive end Nick Eason. "We'll be used to the shotgun. We see it every day in practice. It's one of the biggest lines we'll see this year."
Although Missouri won't line up in the power-I, Clemson must contend with a mammoth line. Second-year Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said his Tigers will overload their defensive front to compensate for size deficiencies.
Missouri defeated Division I-AA Western Illinois 50-20 last week. Quarterback Kirk Farmer completed 10 of 22 passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns. The Tigers quarterback also rushed six times for 23 yards and another score.
Anticipating an aerial showdown, Bowden said denying big plays will be critical for both teams. Bowden wants to force Missouri to chip its way downfield with extended drives. The theory is the more plays it takes to score, the more opportunities for Missouri to make a mistake in the infant stages of its new offense.
"The team that does it best will be successful," said Bowden, who met Smith during a Nike-sponsored trip to Mexico in the summer. "Unless they can knock us around physically (to run the ball). We don't have that luxury to fall back on.
"Not giving up big plays is crucial. It's tough to do against good people. (Clemson's defensive backs') challenge is not giving up big plays."
Reach Jimmy DeButts at (706) 823-3221.
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