Tigers Appear Focused As Trip To Orlando Looms


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - As Clemson wrapped up its next-to-last practice at the Jervey complex this season with another day of live scrimmaging, head coach Tommy Bowden came away feeling good about his team's focus and direction.

The Tigers, who will face Colorado in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec. 27 in Orlando, will practice from 8-10 a.m. Tuesday. The players will then be excused to go home, and are expected to reconvene at the team hotel on Dec. 22.

"I would imagine the enthusiasm will be pretty good at 8:00 in the morning, but only because they're going home afterwards," Bowden said with a laugh.

Overall, though, Bowden has been pleased with his team's work following the break after the Nov. 19 win at South Carolina.

By the time Tuesday's practice ends, the Tigers will have gone at it for six straight days. After two days off to visit family, they'll practice three more times in Orlando in direct preparation for the bowl game.

That's nine workouts in 12 days for Colorado.

"We've gone at it pretty good," said Bowden. "(Monday) was our fifth straight day. You normally only get four to prepare for an opponent during the season."

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Bowden said the team will do what it can to provide a bit of Christmas spirit while the team is in Orlando.

On Christmas morning the players will be allowed to sleep in, but there will a voluntary hour-long chapel service for those who want to attend. Later, the team, coaches and their families will gather for a traditional Christmas dinner, most likely at the team hotel.

"We'll have some coaches with their families, including some little ones there, so we'll do what we can under the circumstances," he said. "But we're going to be there to win a football game. We can't forget that."

To that end, the Tigers will also practice on Christmas Day.

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The last time Clemson was in Orlando, a number of Tigers spent a good deal of time after the final practice running sprints - punishment for curfew violations on their last free night in the resort area.

Nothing unusual about that, Bowden said.

"It's happened every year before, it will happen this year, and it will happen every time we go to a bowl in the future," he said. "Guys are away from home...someone's going to make that mistake."

Bowden said the incident was not a precursor of a larger lack of focus problem in 2002, even though the Tigers lost by 40 to Texas Tech. Bowden had a simple explanation for that one.

"We probably got out-coached," he said.

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Linebacker Anthony Waters was in a green jersey (limited contact) on Monday, while running back James Davis was "banged up a little bit," Bowden said. He declined to elaborate further on either player, but said both should be fine for the Colorado game.

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Bowden also said that 95 percent of the team's grades had been released. He expected the rest to be available Tuesday, and said he would announce any academic casualties at that time.

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