WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Clemson's fans are wondering whether Woodrow Dantzler will bounce back this weekend against Wake Forest.
They ought to be more concerned about the Tigers' defense.
Clemson (4-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) has given up 44, 37 and 38 points in its last three games - the program's second-worst stretch of scoring defense in 26 years.
"Just because you're mad and have pride doesn't mean you're going to win the next game unless you do something productive as far as practice and eliminating mistakes," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said.
The Tigers gave up 219 yards on the ground in last Saturday's 38-3 home loss to North Carolina. That could be a bad sign for this weekend, considering the Demon Deacons (3-3, 1-3) are sixth in the nation in rushing, averaging 235.5 yards a game, under first-year coach Jim Grobe.
"I wish he would go back to the Midwest where he's from because he's done a really good job," Bowden said. "The games they're losing, they're losing close. To me that's a sign of a well-coached team. They are in every game."
Wake Forest will play a third straight team coming off a loss to North Carolina, now ranked No. 23.
"We took the best shot Florida State could give us because they were upset about losing to Carolina," Grobe said. "We took N.C. State's best shot after they lost to North Carolina.
"(UNC coach) John Bunting is a guy that I really like but he's starting to make me mad because he's upsetting every team before we play them. So we're going to get Clemson's best shot."
The Demon Deacons certainly did in 2000, losing 55-7 to the Tigers in Death Valley in one of the low points of a 2-9 season.
"We lost by 48 points and they took out our quarterback. That should be motivation enough," offensive lineman Blake Henry said.
Wake Forest had problems with Dantzler a season ago as the shifty quarterback ran for 166 yards and threw for 157 more in the rout.
But after two sensational games against Georgia Tech and N.C. State, Dantzler had one of the worst outings of his career last week against the Tar Heels and was benched in the fourth quarter.
"One thing that we learned is that he's human and he'll make mistakes," Wake Forest cornerback Eric King said. "He can be stopped."
"He played some superhuman defensive players at North Carolina," Grobe said. "They have some guys that will be first-round draft picks. I don't think it detracts from Dantzler, it tells you how good Carolina is on defense."
Clemson is 21-3 against Wake Forest in the last 24 meetings, but the Demon Deacons won twice in the 1990s at Groves Stadium.
"If we could beat Clemson, that would not only do a lot for us this season, it would do a lot for our football team down the road from a confidence standpoint," Grobe said.
"This is a turning point in our season," Henry said. "We must have it if we want to get to a bowl game."
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