CLEMSON - Tommy Bowden finds himself in an unusual situation this week.
Yes, he's never been 1-4 as a head coach. That's been well documented. But beyond that is preparing for a relatively unknown opponent at a strange time of the season.
Such is life the week Utah State (2-4) visits Death Valley.
"Usually (a game like this) is at the beginning of the season," Bowden said following Tuesday's practice. "You have a lot more time over the summer to study them and call opponents...Usually you're into your conference schedule at this time."
The Aggies come into Saturday's game averaging just over 70 yards rushing, while giving up in excess of 200 yards per game on the ground.
It would appear, then, that this is the perfect time for Clemson's running game and run defense to get well. But while Bowden wouldn't mind that happening, both are secondary to the most important goal.
"We need a win. That would be the most important thing," he said. "Whatever they give us, that's what we'll take. However we can get it. The win would be first. Maybe the running game would be second."
Since no one asked any questions about Utah State in his weekly press conference earlier in the day, Bowden offered up a quick scouting report on the Aggies.
"Defensively their personnel alignment is like Virginia, but with a different style and different technique," he said. "Their base is what they call a 50 (front), or what the pros call a 3-4. They do a lot more out of it than Virginia.
"Offensively they do a lot with no back sets. Where Virginia forced you to defend one-third of the field, (Utah State) spreads it out and makes you defend all 53 yards wide. They're going to make us tackle in the open field and pressure the passer."
Wide receiver Chansi Stuckey (hamstring) did not practice Tuesday.
His status will be reevaluated after today's workout. Bowden said if the sophomore is unable to practice today his chances of playing Saturday are slim.
Cory Groover could be announced as a starter at defensive tackle as soon as today.
Groover had six tackles - including three first hits - in last Thursday's loss at Virginia, his play improving as his health does the same. Of course, even those numbers had a downside, according to Bowden.
"It's pretty bad when his tackles were more than all the defensive ends combined," he said.
Early Tuesday the athletic department announced that N.C. State returned 600 tickets for the October 30 football game at Clemson. The game had previously been announced as a sellout, but now these tickets are available for public sale at $32 each.
These tickets may be purchased at Gate 9 at the Memorial Stadium ticket office, or over the phone by calling 1-800-CLEMSON, or online at www.clemsontigers.com.
Tickets are still available for the Homecoming game with Utah State this Saturday and for the Maryland game on October 23.