CLEMSON - Whip linebacker Eric Sampson will be lost for at least three weeks due to a broken jaw.
Sampson, who suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of last Thursday's 30-10 loss to Virginia, will have surgery Monday to wire the jaw shut. He will be replaced in the lineup by sophomore Tremaine Billie.
Billie will be backed up by junior Lionel Richardson.
Sampson has started all five games this season, registering 22 tackles and two quarterback sacks.
With four consecutive losses hanging over their heads, head coach Tommy Bowden is searching for ways to keep up his team's confidence. As with everything else during the streak, Bowden looked first at himself.
"I've got to be creative and find a way to keep spirits up," he said. "True, they're ones who have to go out and perform. But every game we've played, all five, have been close in the late third, early fourth quarter. We haven't finished off. As head coach, I have to figure out why.
"That's my major concern right now. Why?"
The 12 days between Florida State and Virginia gave Bowden and his staff a chance to put in a number of new wrinkles for the Cavaliers. Early on the results were promising, making better use of tight end Ben Hall and using fullback Steven Jackson in motion to provide lead blocking.
The Tigers scored 10 points on their first two possessions, but had very little success afterwards. By the time it was over, the Clemson offense had run just 49 plays - easily the lowest total in Bowden's coaching career.
"We usually put in something, a new wrinkle, every game. The open date usually gives you more time if you think it will be productive," he said. "I wish we would have had a chance to stay on the field more and do more with it. Forty-nine plays isn't enough.
"You get just a couple of at-bats and then you're on the sideline for a while. Then it gets critical that when you do get it, you'd better score. You start to press."