Bowl Practice Opens For Tigers


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CLEMSON - Clemson returned to the practice field Saturday in preparation for the New Year's Eve matchup with Auburn in the Chick-Fil-A bowl, with conditioning among head coach Tommy Bowden's top priorities.

It was the Tigers' first time on the field since their joyful, elongated, back-slapping and high-fiving exit from Williams-Brice Stadium back on Nov. 24.

There was no such emotion Saturday afternoon, only work to be done. And Bowden said he was pleased with what he saw at the Jervey Practice Facility.

"It went pretty good. We conditioned a little more now than you would during the season," he said. "We're probably not in great shape after the time off. So you pick it back up with pretty crisp, rigid conditioning after practice."

This next week will be spotty, as far as actual practice time.

It is finals week at Clemson, and because of that a scheduled practice Sunday was shelved. As it stands now, the Tigers will work out again Wednedsay and Thursday. By next Saturday, finals will be over and consistent workouts will commence.

The object, of course, is to get the 10th win of 2007, something that hasn't been done in 17 years at Clemson.

And with the momentum of winning five of their last six games stalled because of the break, Bowden said it's up to the players to make sure they keep things moving in the right direction.

"That's where your leadership comes in," he said. "The practice format will be the same. It's up to them how much they've bottled up inside - the leadership and the team chemistry - in the desire to get that 10th win."

***

NOTES

- Speaking of leadership, quarterback Cullen Harper and safety Michael Hamlin were voted permanent captains for the season;

- Linebackers Tremaine Billie and Nick Watkins did not practice Saturday. Both were working on academic issues;

- Asked if he would offer Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long any advice on the school's coaching search now that he is no longer a candidate, Bowden shook his head.

"He knows administration. I know coaching. I wouldn't try to tell him anything," he said.

Bowden also answered to the negative when asked if he would endorse a candidate for the Arkansas job, especially since the guy he jokingly said he wanted to take it - Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe - also turned down the Razorbacks.

"I already endorsed him," Bowden said with a laugh. "Didn't work."

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