Bumps, Bruises Aside, The Hits Just Keep On Coming


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - A few years back, then Clemson defensive coordinator Reggie Herring uttered the now infamous "we got who we got" quote when asked about personnel.


Thursday, head coach Tommy Bowden seemed to deliver and updated version of the message - Next week at Virginia, the Tigers will have who they have.


Four Tigers missed Thursday's practice at the Jervey complex, which was another day full of live, full-speed contact. Defensive end Bobby Williamson and wideout Gerald McCloud each sat out with a sprained foot, while whip linebacker Richardson was nursing a sprained neck.


Fullback Cliff Harrell also sat out due to a facial infection.


And while having four players out Thursday seemed to catch Bowden off guard, it wasn't enough to cause him to scale back the hitting.


"We're a little more banged up than I thought," he said. "But we had to do some live work today, so we said 'To heck with it.' Whoever gets on the plane Wednesday gets on the plane.


"This will be a physical game. If they can't practice (they can't play)."


Bowden hopes the extra work on fundamentals pays off in a number of areas, including the team's ability to execute big plays.


During the four-game winning streak to close 2003, the offense was a big play machine. But so far in 2004 the machine's gears appear to be stripped.


The most glaring example came last Saturday against Florida State. Twice on the same drive Clemson receivers got behind the Seminole secondary for what appeared to be surefire touchdowns. But quarterback Charlie Whitehurst overthrew Chansi Stuckey on the first opportunity, and Kelvin Grant dropped the second.


With Virginia's defensive style less conducive to hitting the big play, every opportunity next Thursday becomes even that much more important.


"We're not hitting the big plays. We hit them last year. Both Stuckey and Grant were wide open 50 yards downfield," Bowden said. "Virginia does a little better job keeping a shell around it and keeping everything in front of them. I'll be interested to see how we do against them."


***


Random Bowden quotes from Thursday, first on trailing Florida State last week by 17 minutes in time of possession:


"I don't want to penalize myself in that category because of the turnovers," he said. "Take away two 12 second drives (because of turnovers) and I'd say it would be about equal. I don't want to read something into it that's not there. Take away those turnovers and time of possession would have been equal had we kept those drives going."


On playing Thursday night games:


"One a year I don't mind. National TV, if you can play well it's a nice recruiting tool," he said. "It's hard on the players. We won't get back until about 3 a.m. and they'll have class the next day. That will be hard.


"I don't know many professors who teach here who would come in at 3 a.m., then make an 8 o'clock class. They'd probably cancel it."


***


The team will have today and Saturday off, then resume practice Sunday afternoon in preparation for the Thursday night game at Virginia.

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