Dog Days Finally Catch Up To Tigers

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Tommy Bowden has walked off the practice field each day during preseason camp and found mostly good things to say about his team.

Until Wednesday.

The Clemson head coach was noticeably upset at the way the Tigers performed in short-yardage situations Wednesday, and took the opportunity to publicly deliver the first harsh words about his team this season.

"We did live short yardage today and the defense looked terrible," he said. "We did live overtime and the offense looked terrible. It was a wash.

"We would have gotten killed today by Wake (Forest). Had we played today we'd have gotten killed, butchered, slaughtered. Maybe worse than the game we played last year."

It was the defense which seemed to most concern Bowden.

During the short yardage drills, he said the offense not only picked up the first down every time, but did so by a wide margin. Whether it was missed assignments, lack of effort or the team finally succumbing to the "dead week syndrome" - the week before game week - Bowden wasn't sure.

"I'll have to look at the film," he said.

Elsewhere Monday, right tackle Marion Dukes was back at practice with no restrictions, returning from a chest/rib injury and a number of precautionary medical tests on his heart.

While Dukes appears to be a lock at his position, Bowden said the only offensive line spot set in stone at this point is center Tommy Sharpe. He said if the season opened today, the line likely would be:

Sharpe at center; Cedric Johnson at left guard, and either Nathan Bennett or Roman Fry at right guard; Jesse Pickens at left tackle and Dukes on the right side.


- While Jad Dean and Stephen Furr continue to battle for place kicking duties, other aspects of the special teams are coming into shape.

Bowden said Chansi Stuckey, Justin Miller, C. J. Gaddis and Airese Currie all have been working on both kick return and punt return teams. Punter Cole Chason is the first team holder at this point, with Ryan Charpia at No. 2.

- Eric Sampson (shoulder) and Anthony Waters (sprained ankle) did not practice, but are expected back soon. Defensive end Vontrell Jamison (broken arm) was back in a green jersey Wednesday, meaning he could go through certain drills but was off limits to full contact.

- Friday is Bowden's annual "Beanie Bowl," the team's full dress rehersal for opening day.

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