Tigers' offense may call to McDaniel

Clemson safety has earned a switch; Tigers dominate FCS teams

pstrelow@thestate.comOctober 30, 2009 

  • CHANTICLEERS VS. TIGERS

    WHO: Coastal Carolina (3-4) at Clemson (4-3)

    WHEN: 1:30 p.m. Saturday

    WHERE: Memorial Stadium, Clemson

    LINE: None

    TV: None

    RADIO: ESPN Radio 93.1

CLEMSON - With seven interceptions in as many games, Clemson junior safety DeAndre McDaniel has caught as many passes as all but four of the team's offensive players.

The chance to switch to offense is McDaniel's decision to make, too - if for only a single play.

Dabo Swinney promised Clemson's defenders that anyone who returned an interception or fumble for a touchdown would be granted one play on offense if they wanted one.

McDaniel returned his second interception at Miami 23 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter last Saturday.

No word yet on whether McDaniel - who also played receiver in high school - planned to take Swinney up on the offer. But with three crucial ACC games and the season finale at USC forthcoming, this week's game with Coastal Carolina would appear best-suited for such an experiment.

Swinney recruited McDaniel out of Tallahassee, Fla., and said he actually tried convincing him to come to Clemson as a receiver.

"He had his chance to play wideout, and he didn't want any part of it," Swinney said. "I couldn't believe it."

Not so fast. The definitive example of Clemson's roller-coaster decade occurred in 2004 when the Tigers prevailed at No. 11 Miami, then lost at Duke the next week.

But consider these numbers this weekend before you worry.

The Tigers are 22-0 against Football Championship Subdivision opponents since the division was formed in 1978. No lower-tier opponent has come closer than 11 points (Furman in 2003 and Appalachian State in 1997), with Clemson prevailing in its last three matchups by a minimum of 28 points.

Coastal Carolina is ranked No. 101 of 118 in scoring at the FCS level (16.0 points per).

"You don't really ever go into a game saying you're going to blow somebody out," Swinney said. "We have to do whatever it takes to win, that's the No. 1 objective.

"As I've been telling them for three weeks, it doesn't matter who we play. ... Let's just focus on ourselves and just show up, play hard and execute and see what the scoreboard says."

Branching out. Freshman Malliciah Goodman garnered most of the preseason hype among Clemson's backup defensive ends, but the Tigers might have found their heir apparent to Ricky Sapp at the hybrid end/linebacker spot.

Redshirt sophomore Andre Branch has made his mark in recent games.

"He's one of those guys I'm not sure many people were saying much about him coming into the season," Swinney said. "He's just continued to emerge. He's got an edge to him, and he's just really developed and made himself a real factor."

Extra points. For the second straight year, the team will attend tonight's homecoming festivities, although, this year, a dozen players are slated to perform a skit. ... Coastal Carolina is trying to become the third first-time visitor to win in Death Valley in the past 32 years. The only two since 1977 have been Marshall in 1999 and Miami in 2005.

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