Bowden: We're Not Ready for Georgia


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - Some called Tommy Bowden's mood Saturday one of disappointment. He
preferred to think of himself as being a realist.


After watching his team go through its first major scrimmage of prefall camp
at Death Valley, the Clemson head coach verbalized what many silently
suspected all along:


The road to success in 2002 is not going to be easily traveled.


"We're not where we need to be offensively or defensively," Bowden said.
"Defensively we're a little bit ahead, but we're not near ready to play
Georgia. There's a lot of work to be done in two weeks."


Now, with two-a-days slated to continue next week and at least one more major
scrimmage on tap, certainly there is time to iron out some of the rough edges
which showed themselves Saturday. But those changes will have to come
quickly, and mistakes such as the following will have to be rectified:


- The offense committed three turnovers - all fumbles - Saturday, two of
which especially drew Bowden's ire. The first came on a center-quarterback
exchange between Jermyn Chester and Willie Simmons inside the defense's
one-yard line, squandering a 70-yard drive and golden scoring opportunity.


The second came after the offense began inside its own one and drove out near
midfield, where wide receiver Derrick Hamilton fumbled after a nice run. He
was immediately pulled from the scrimmage by Bowden and did not return;


- The kicking game, most noticeably punter Wynn Kopp, is struggling for
consistency. While placekicker Aaron Hunt kicked "pretty well," Bowden said,
Kopp hasn't "kicked the ball like you would expect out of a senior punter."


- The defense proved itself to be a model of inconsistency, coming up with
big plays to stop drives, while at the same time surrendering big plays on
others and - on two occasions - having problems getting lined up correctly in
the most basic of sets.


"Knowing what we lost from last year, if the offense had come out here and
run up and down the field then something would have been wrong," Bowden said.
"But the turnovers are disappointing. You're always looking for none, but
it's Catch-22 because you want your defense to get them.


"We just didn't show any consistency on defense. I'd have been much happier
if they had come out and dominated the whole day. But we just didn't see it."


At the same time, the offense did move the ball well on occasion. Besides the
long drives which ended in turnovers, Simmons and Hamilton connected on a
long touchdown pass on one possession, and there were others in which the
running game performed well.


The offensive line, especially, seemed to play better as a unit than
expected.


All in all, it seemed to go pretty much the way Bowden expected. Now it's
simply a matter of trimming personnel and refining areas on both sides of the
ball between now and next Saturday.


"We've got to go look at this film and then start deciding which of the young
guys are going to help us now and which ones we're going to redshirt," Bowden
said. "We wanted to get a look at a lot of people today, and we did. Now
we've got to trim it down and start getting ready for Georgia."


NOTES


- The second round of heart tests on senior defensive tackle Nick Eason came
back negative, Bowden said, and he has been cleared to play.


Eason will miss most of the coming week recovering from the tests, but is
scheduled to start against Georgia.


"I'm happy to have him back. I don't worry about him," Bowden said. "He's a
fifth-year guy, he's in great shape and pays attention in meetings. He'll be
ready to go."


- Wide receiver Kevin Youngblood (sprained foot), linebacker David Dunham
(concussion) and defensive tackle Todd McClinton (hamstring) all missed
Saturday's scrimmage and would appear to be out of the running to be major
parts of the game plan for Georgia.


Missing Youngblood at the X receiver means J.J. McKelvey is the likely
starter vs. the Bulldogs, with true freshman Kelvin Grant listed as his
backup.


- The new grass at Death Valley appeared to be in game condition, save for
one or two small areas. But overall all the look and consistency of the feel
seemed to please Bowden.


"I thought it was great," he said. "And with three weeks before our home
opener, they'll have this thing looking like carpet by then."


- Freshman Justin Miller returned a kickoff for a touchdown during live
kicking drills. Defensive end Khaleed Vaughn also drew praise from Bowden,
especially for his play around the goal line.


- There were no injuries during the scrimmage.


Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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