CLEMSON -- It hasn’t slipped past Clemson coach Tommy Bowden that Lake Hartwell has risen past full stage. He knows it hasn’t slipped past anyone else either.
Every day it rained this spring, Lake Hartwell rose. And rose some more -- until it finally it reached full stage after years of being depleted.
It wasn’t that long ago that Bowden made an off-hand remark when his name was being brought up for other coaching vacancies that he would be around until Lake Hartwell reached full stage.
“The lake now is way too high. The lake now is way too high for me,” Bowden said after Saturday’s Orange-White game. Bowden knows that fans have been turning his comment around in a way to suggest that the rising lake signals it’s time for him to turn the program around, or he could be looking for a new school at which to coach.
It poured rain again in Clemson Saturday morning before the team played its final spring scrimmage. The skies cleared by game time, though, and the team was able to complete spring drills. The game did little to assure the crowd of about 5,000 at Riggs Field that next season would be a breakout season for Bowden.
The offense scored three times on two touchdowns and a fieldgoal. Fullback Cliff Harrell scored on a 1-yard run early in the scrimmage. On the final offensive play of the scrimmage, quarterback Charlie Whitehurst completed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Browning. Placekicker Aaron Hunt hit one of four field goal attempts for the other score.
The offensive play calling was conservative, although that had been the story for most of the spring. Clemson had spent much of the spring in the I-formation trying to figure out how to succeed in short yardage situations. For most of the spring, the offensive line had allowed the offensive to succeed. Whitehurst, however, saw more pressure Saturday.
“Pounding the ball is something we couldn’t do last year,” said Whitehurst. “The defense got the best of us. It hasn’t been a dominating thing, but today they came back and stopped us.”
Clemson ran 120 plays, 73 running plays and 47 passing plays. Redshirt freshman back Duane Coleman rushed for 50 yards on 15 carries. Kyle Browning had 13 carries for 36 yards. Yusef Kelly suffered an ankle sprain early in the scrimmage and rushed just three times for seven yards. Redshirt freshman Reggie Merriweather, who had been impressive in the final weeks of spring practice, rushed for 27 yards on 10 carries.
Whitehurst completed 14 of 20 passes for 160 yards. Willie Simmons completed 7 of 10 passes for 74 yards.
Simmons said after the game that he’s still considering transferring for his final season. “I want to talk to my mom and people I trust,” he said. “I just have to sit down and talk to (Bowden) and see how they would use us.”
Bowden hasn’t ruled out using two quarterbacks next year. “I’ve been associated with an undefeated team that had two,” he said. “If a guy’s not in a rhythm if, you’ve got a solid guy to put in. If the plan is to play two it wouldn’t bother me at all.”
Bowden said he would talk to Simmons during the course of interviewing every player on the team over the next two weeks.
While Bowden would like to satisfy Simmons’ desire for playing time, he knows that he has to satisfy Clemson’s fans first.
“Right now we haven’t reached a level that I would like to reach,” he said. “My expectations are a lot higher. Playing in bowl games – that’s not the objective. It’s certain types of bowl games…four straight bowls are nice for a lot of people but it’s not nice for us. The objectives that I would like to meet have not been met yet.”