Bowden: Furman Game No-win Situation for Tigers

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Those looking for redemption after Clemson's 30-0 loss to Georgia last Saturday will have to wait at least a week, maybe longer.

That's because next on the schedule is Division I-AA Furman, who can only further head coach Tommy Bowden's headaches. Not relieve them.

"It's a no-win situation," he said following Wednesday's practice. "No win."

That's because Bowden understands the pitfalls that come with playing a I-AA opponent.

If Clemson blows out Furman, big deal. That what it's supposed to do to the small school. If the Tigers struggle, or even lose, then the heat Bowden already is facing gets turned up another notch or five.

So why even play a game like this in the first place?

"You'll have to ask other people," Bowden said, avoiding the question.

What he didn't avoid was the fact that unlike some I-AA opponents, Furman at least has a track record of playing well against - and occasionally beating - its larger brethren.

"Furman's been to the playoffs, they're a quality I-AA opponent," Bowden said. "They're well coached, they're right up the road (in Greenville) would be like Florida State playing Florida A&M. They'll play good enough to beat you (and are) just right across the road.

"The limitations on I-AA scholarships (aside) Furman puts a very competitive team on the field. You can relate back to (three) years ago with North Carolina. Six guys drafted, Julius Peppers in the lineup. All those guys played and Furman beat them. In Chapel Hill."

The prospect of Saturday's game stirred up another unpleasant memory for Bowden - his first game as Clemson's head coach back in 1999.

"It's kind of like a few years ago when Marshall came in here (and beat us). None of the people down here knew much about Marshall," he said. "They ended up going undefeated, Chad Pennington, top 10 in the nation. Marshall had just jumped to I-A a couple of years before. Furman would have been very competitive with Marshall back five years ago, or whenever it was.

"That's why it's a tough game to play for us."

In other news Wednesday, Bowden said the battle for several starting spots continues to wage.

Cliff Harrell is challenging Chad Jasmin for the fullback slot, while Curtis Baham is close to overtaking Kevin Youngblood at split end. Chip Myrick continues to battle Nathan Bennett for one starting guard spot, while Roman Fry is drawing closer to William Henry at right tackle.

Defensively, Eric Sampson has overtaken Lionel Richardson at rover/whip, with Tye Hill and Toure' Francis still fighting for the cornerback slot opposite Justin Miller. Bowden also said Eric Coleman is close to taking over for either DeJuan Polk or Donnell Washington at defensive tackle.

"Some of those positions could be won before Saturday, or some changes could come after the game," Bowden said.

Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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