CLEMSON, S.C. -- Changing the rules with the same frequency at which it modifies the score, Clemson has discovered excellence through balance.
Wake Forest became the Tigers' latest casualty. No. 16 Clemson (3-0, 1-0 ACC) thrashed the Demon Deacons (0-3, 0-1) 55-7 with an offensive exhibition rivaled only by its defensive performance.
The Tigers suffocated Wake Forest's I-formation offense. The Deacons were outgained 623-159 in total offense, and their three-man defensive front only enticed Clemson quarterback Woody Dantzler.
Meanwhile Clemson's insatiable offense dissected the Deacons' befuddled defense. Dantzler, a junior, engineered scoring drives on five consecutive possessions during the second and third quarters to establish an insurmountable 41-0 lead.
In the 1,000th game in Clemson history, the Tigers found the defensive-Ying to their offensive-Yang before 73,000 fans.
"Last year, we weren't very consistent," coach Tommy Bowden said. "So far this year, we've been pretty consistent."
Last season, the Tigers had difficulty maintaining production on both sides of the ball in consecutive games.
That hasn't been a problem in 2000. Opponents have averaged 160 yards of total offense ,while Clemson has averaged 514 yards and 51.6 points. The Tigers have outscored their competition 155-16. Junior center Kyle Young said the Tigers' balance has perpetuated higher aspirations.
"Both sides have been playing well," Young said. "We ought to be a pretty dangerous team."
Dispelling the notion that his offense is overly pass-happy, Clemson coach Tommy Bowden reveled in the Tigers' ground superiority -- even if it was achieved unconventionally. Clemson rushed for 436 yards, with four players posting at least 46 yards.
Dantzler, a quarterback turned tailback for the day, rushed for a team-high 166 yards and two touchdowns. Although his pass-efficiency rating drooped with his 9-of-19, 157-yard performance, Dantzler created confusion and hesitation for the Demon Deacons' defense.
"He's a heck of a player, tough to handle," Deacons coach Jim Caldwell said. "He's the prototype quarterback everybody is looking for."
Further blurring the line between his offense and more traditional schemes was the Travis Zachery's career-best receiving day. The junior tailback made three receptions for 86 yards including a 52-yard, third-quarter touchdown from Dantzler.
Before Wake Forest starting quarterback C.J. Leake was knocked out with a dislocated knee, he was sacked twice and constantly leveled. When the Deacons diverged from their predictable and ineffective run-dominated attack, Leake was repugnant.
The highly touted sophomore frequently overthrew intended receivers when he wasn't being hit by Clemson's pass-rushers. Leake completed six of 15 passes for 51 yards before being carted off the field.
Sustaining the momentum created by the opposite unit has catapulted the Tigers to an unblemished start.
"We're both playing for each other," Dantzler said. "This offense is so explosive. If we get enough chances, we're going to score."
Reach:Jimmy DeButts at (706) 823-3221.