Can Seminoles Again Provide Tonic for What Ails Tigers?

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Last season it was an odds-defying win over Florida State which not only salvaged Clemson's season, but sent a jolt of electricity throughout both the program and the fan base.

Three games into 2004, that jolt is little more than a slight sizzle after back-to-back losses to Georgia Tech and Texas A&M - the latter of which conjured up bad memories for many of those same fans.

So isn't it ironic, then, that with the season seemingly hanging in the balance, here come the Seminoles once again?

"Amazing, huh?," Bowden grinned after Monday's practice.

Perhaps, but duplicating the results would be even more so.

Saturday's game isn't in the friendly surroundings of Death Valley, where nearly 80,000 witnessed the Tiger turnaround a year ago. Instead Bowden's team travels to Tallahassee, where it hasn't won since 1989.

In fact, before breaking out offensively in a 48-31 loss there two years ago, the Tigers had averaged just two points per game in the previous five meetings at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Still, the sheer excitement surrounding Bowden Bowl VI is enough to give even the most despondent fan reason to pause. And having the Seminoles to prepare for this week other than, say, Duke, should be enough to capture the team's attention, too.

Bowden likely knows this, and privately very well may agree. But, true to form, he went out of his way Monday to avoid providing the already geared-up Seminoles with any bulletin board material.

"Well, they and Miami are the preseason favorites and we play them both, we just play this one first," he said. "It's not that the Georgia Tech game or Wake Forest game wasn't important. A loss is a loss in the conference.

"But because of (FSU's) history, who they recruit, the caliber of their athletes and the quality of their coaching, you've got (Clemson's) full attention."

But had this week's opponent been Duke, and not Florida State, would the team have the same level of focus this early in the week?

"With all wins and losses having equal value, they're all important," Bowden said diplomatically.


There was slight movement on the early-week depth chart, which was released Monday afternoon.

Besides the move of Jad Dean over Stephen Furr at starting kicker, which was announced Sunday, Gaines Adams is listed ahead of Charles Bennett at one defense end. At the other, Bobby Williamson is now backing up Mo Fountain after Vontrell Jamison was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon.

In the only other major move, wide receiver Chansi Stuckey is now listed as both a kickoff and punt returner. He had been returning just kickoffs prior to last Saturday.


Bowden listed a number of players who would be watched closely this week in position battles, either warranting more playing time or actually challenging for starting spots.

Among the players being watched are Tremaine Billie, who is battling Eric Sampson for playing time at the WHIP linebacker spot, Sergio Gilliam and C.J. Gaddis in the defensive backfield, and Barry Richardson (tackle) and Roman Fry (guard) on the offensive line.

Bowden also mentioned getting David Dunham more snaps at middle linebacker, but only as a way to rest All-ACC performer Leroy Hill more often.


Bowden reiterated that beginning with today's practice more time would be spent correcting mistakes than implementing Florida State game plan.

Translation: Shorter practices, but much more intense.

"We've got to get the pads on, go at it and get it fixed," he said.

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