CLEMSON -- It's still too early to mark this Clemson team among the greatest
of all time.
With that said, though, this team has done something that Clemson has rarely
done over its history: make an appearance in the top-five of the Associated
Press weekly poll.
With losses by Washington and Florida, Clemson (5-0 overall, 3-0 Atlantic
Coast Conference) rose to No. 5 in yesterday's poll. It's the first time the
team has been that high in the rankings since Sept. 12, 1988 - the week
before the Puntrooskie game against Florida State.
In only four seasons other than the current one (1959, 1981, 1984 and 1988)
have the Tigers appeared in the top-five. And only in 1981 and this year did
the Tigers rise to the top-five. In the other years, Clemson started out in
the top-five and fell by the end of the season.
That's the good news for Clemson coach Tommy Bowden - that his team is being
rewarded. "You know, it means a lot to the players," said Bowden on Sunday.
"It's a reward for hard work. That's the thing that means most of all. It's
easier to work harder when you've seen the result. That's the most important
Bowden still has plenty to correct. Clemson allowed 20 points late in its
52-22 win over Duke. After a 41-yard run by Duke's Chris Douglas, there was
a shouting match between defensive coordinator Reggie Herring and defensive
back Alex Ardley. Linebacker Keith Adams was so upset after the game that he
wouldn't talk to the media.
The Tigers face undefeated but unranked North Carolina State (4-0 overall,
1-0 ACC) Saturday.
"Against Virginia, we had a chance to get into the top-ten," said Bowden.
"Against Duke we had a chance to maintain. Now, it's a chance to maintain
against a better opponent."
Note: Tight end Jason LeMay has left the team due to personal reasons,
according to tight end coach Brad Scott. "Jason has not been kicked off or
anything like that," said Scott. "He's had some personal problems in his
family and is one a leave of absence until December. Really, no team policy
has been broken. It's not drug or alcohol related."
That leaves former South Florence player Morgan Woodward as the starting
tight end. Woodward, started the season at third-team, but has caught four
passes this season for 89 yards and two touchdowns. J.J. Howard, who began
the season as LeMay's backup has moved back to defense.
Woodward is backed up by Nate Gillespie, who until last week played
offensive tackle, and Tyrone Lee, who played at West Florence.
"Morgan does a nice job with the ball once he catches it," said Scott. "He's
undersized, but works hard."
Lee has yet to play this season and is on the scout team during practice.
"He takes enough pride in what he's doing to understand what we're doing on
offense, even though he's on the scout team. I feel confident putting him