Clemson, SC -- Clemson Head Coach Tommy Bowden put his team through a two-hour scrimmage at Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It was the second major scrimmage of the preseason, as the Tigers prepare for the season opener two weeks from Saturday against Alabama in the Georgia Dome.
"Our goal today was to play a lot of the younger guys and find the best 11 players to play on offense and the best 11 to play on defense," said Bowden, who is starting his 10th season at Clemson. "We pulled a lot of the veteran players early. Ricky Sapp, James Davis, C.J. Spiller, Michael Hamlin, Chris Clemons, they didn't play much today. We wanted to see what some of the younger players could do. It was also our goal to find the best 12th, 13th and 14th players on each side of the ball.
"As a result, we had some odd lineups in there and it showed in our consistency and execution. But, overall it was a good practice."
There was some news at the running back position. Freshman Jamie Harper suffered a sprained ankle on his fourth carry of the scrimmage and did not return after the injury. X-rays were negative. It is now known how long Harper will be out of action. Bowden also said that he planned to red-shirt running back Rendrick Taylor. Taylor lettered each of the last three years at wide receiver. There were no other injuries reported in the scrimmage and no other players missed action due to injury.
Cullen Harper got off to a good start in the scrimmage by taking the first team offense 70 yards for a touchdown against the first team defense that was minus Sapp and starting safeties Michael Hamlin and Chris Clemons. He connected on 3-3 passes for 66 yards on the drive, including a 25-yard scoring pass to C.J. Spiller. He also connected with Aaron Kelly on a 30-yard pass during the drive. For the day, Harper was 7-12 for 129 yards and the touchdown. He did not throw an interception.
Backup quarterback Willy Korn had a solid day, connecting on 15-25 for 151 yards and a touchdown. He did not throw an interception. Korn threw a 21-yard scoring pass to Jacoby Ford early in the scrimmage. Reserve quarterback Kyle Parker completed 3-7 for 24 yards and Mike Wade was 1-3 for 6 yards.
The receiving statistics were well distributed. Kyle Johnson, a graduate of East Carolina who transferred to Clemson this year and will be eligible to play for the Tigers as a graduate student, had four receptions for 30 yards to lead all pass catchers. Aaron Kelly had 3-51. Michael Palmer had 2-32 and Brian Linthicum had 2-21 to lead the tight ends.
Rendrick Taylor was the leading rusher in the scrimmage with seven carries for 45 yards and a touchdown. He was effective in short yardage situations. Ronald Watson, Jr. had 3-44, including the longest run of the day, a 42-yarder. Andre Ellington had 10-23 rushing and also had a 28-yard punt return. James Davis and C.J. Spiller played sparingly and had just five carries between them.
The defense had some strong performances also. Brandon Maye led all tacklers with six, while Jeremy Campbell had five. Andre Branch had three sacks from his defensive end position and had four tackles overall. Reserve linebacker Kantrell Brown had the only turnover when he intercepted a pass.
Richard Jackson had a good day as a placekicker. He made field goals of 50, 40 and 37 yards. Mark Buchholz made a 44-yarder.
Clemson Football Scrimmage Statistics
R. Taylor 7-45-1, Watson 3-44, Ellington 10-23, J. Harper 4-14, C. Harper 2-11, Macko 3-10, Spiller 3-3, Davis 2-3, Jones 1-3
Harper 7-12-129-1-0; Korn 15-25-151-1-0; Parker 3-7-24-0-0; Wade 1-3-6-0-1
Johnson 4-30; Kelly 3-51, Palmer 3-32; Linthicum 2-21, Ashe 2-20, Macko 2-17, Spiller 1-28-1, Ford 1-21-1, Brown 1-7, Dye 1-26, Clear 1-6, Allen 1-13, Watson 1-4, Jones 1-8
Maye 6,Campbell 5, Hall 4, Branch 4, Conner 4, Maxwell 3, Bowers 3, Gilchrist 3, Hunter 3, Alexander 3, Chancellor 3,
Tackles for Loss
Branch 3-17, Alexander 3-16, Andrews 1-2, Bowers 1-3
Kantrell Brown 1-0