Bowden Looks Ahead At Saturday's Start Of Spring Practice


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - Saturday will be a strange day for Clemson head football coach Tommy Bowden.

For the first time in three seasons the Tigers won't go into spring practice with a starting quarterback named Whitehurst. No, Charlie has been busy putting his act on display at the NFL Combine, hoping to open the eyes of the ever-present NFL scouts.

Instead, Clemson opens camp this weekend with fifth-year senior Will Proctor penciled in as the starting quarterback - he of the one career start at the position.

Yet Bowden said Thursday morning he feels unusually comfortable with the situation. Mostly because Proctor has been around for so long.

"He'll have been here five years now," Bowden said. "He came into camp last year on equal footing with Charlie because we had a new offense and pushed Charlie hard for the spot. He then played well when we needed him in the opener against a nationally-ranked Texas A&M team, and did what he was supposed to do when we started him against Duke.

"All that has me feeling better about the situation than maybe I would in some other year."

It will be up to Proctor, as the starting quarterback, to not only gain command of the huddle with a veteran offense returning around him; he'll also have to execute other aspects of Rob Spence's playbook that rarely, if ever, found their way into the play-calling in 2005.

"Will's more mobile that Charlie, so we'll likely be able to feature some other aspects of his game than we did with Charlie in there," Bowden said. "Not that Charlie was slow, but his side-to-side mobility isn't as good as Will's. So that will be another dimension we can add to this offense."

Other questions surrounding the Tigers as spring practice opens:

- Who becomes the chief downfield threat in the passing game? Bowden said don't be surprised if it's a freshman.

"Jacoby Ford has that kind of speed, and is a talented wide receiver," he said. "He's probably the fastest guy we've ever brought in here. I see him making an impact in the kick return game, but I think he can also be a factor at wide out."

- How do the redshirt freshmen respond to a change in role?

"Last year all they really got taught was scheme, the other team's scheme (on scout team)," said Bowden. "This time around they'll be taught more fundamentals and technique and be expected to keep up with everyone else. It will be different for them."

- Can the defensive line keep improving?

"The offensive line will win you games. The defensive line wins you championships," Bowden said. "We've got a lot of good, young talent on that defensive line. We just have to keep working until it's championship caliber."

The Tigers will also be looking for help in the defensive backfield, as well as revamping the punt protection team.

The first workout is scheduled for Saturday morning.

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