CLEMSON --- For 14 days over the last two months, Clemson's football
players have had to endure high winds, rain, thunderstorms, cold weather
and three hours of coaches screaming in their ears. And oh yes, they also
had to learn a new offense and defense.
Today, those same players finally get to have a little fun as they get to
show what they have learned to nearly 20,000 orange and while clad fans at
Death Valley in the annual Orange and White game.
The festivities kick off with the athletic department warehouse sale under
the North Stands at 11 a.m. The Orange and White game will begin at 1 p.m.
"We practice all the time and practice is closed so no one gets to see the
big hits, the big catches or the big runs, but now we get to play in front
of some fans," said wide receiver Chansi Stuckey. "You want to play in
front of some people so everyone is going to play real hard."
It is an experience some fans compare to football in the fall. As for the
players, Stuckey says the day is fun, but the intensity is not the same for
them because of the guys on the other side of the ball .
"It's fun because you are playing in a big stadium and there is a big
crowd there, but your friends are on the other side of the ball," he said,
"but when Texas A&M comes in, they are like the enemy.
"So it is kind of like (game day), but not the same."
Clemson Coach Tommy Bowden feels the same way, but he looks at the Orange
and White game as a day for the players more so than the coaches.
"I think they enjoy it more because they get to play in front of all the
fans," Bowden said.
Bowden said today's Orange and White game will be like the ones he has
had in past years, but it will be a little more fan friendly than the
scrimmages the Tigers have gone through the last two Saturdays.
"There are still some things we are going to work on, but for the most
part (today) is more for the fans and the players," he said.
It has been a very productive spring for the wide receivers. Chansi Stuckey,
Kelvin Grant and Curtis Baham have all had solid springs, but the biggest
news has been the emergence of Aaron Kelly and La'Donte Harris.
"The learning curve has been there, but guys like La'Donte and Aaron have
really stepped up and those guys are going to really help us this year,"
said Stuckey. "Overall as a group I think we did pretty good this spring
learning, running routes and catching the ball.
"I think it was a pretty productive spring."
Stuckey feels the emergence of Kelly and Harris will only make the
receiving corps better come this fall. "Competition is just the best," he said. "If you don't have anyone really pushing, you can get modest and complacent, but if you have some one
pushing you have to get better and keep that guy off of you."
As for this afternoon, Stuckey and the rest of the team want to make the
fans trip to Memorial Stadium a worth while one.
"We want to make big plays," he said with a big grin. "You know making big
throws, big catches and big runs."We want to show that the offense is going to be much better than it was last year."
Will Vandervort is the Sports Editor for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger.