Does Bowden Have Any Cards Left Up His Sleeve For The Gamecocks?

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Ask Tommy Bowden to reveal what may be in his bag of tricks for Saturday's game at South Carolina, and his friendly demeanor tends to change in a hurry.

His mood, often jovial during his daily meeting with the beat writers, becomes alarmingly stoic. His eyes grow cold, sporting a squinting glare that would make Clint Eastwood jealous, while his head rises slowly and slightly cocks to one side.

Then, with a voice which only can be described as 007 with a southern drawl, delivers one of his favorite lines, usually with great effect:

"If I told you, I'd have to kill you."

Welcome to the cloak and dagger world of Clemson-South Carolina week.

On the final day of practice before his Tigers head to Columbia for Saturday's meeting (12:30 p.m., Jefferson Pilot) at Williams-Brice Stadium, Bowden would neither confirm nor deny if any tomfoolery might be in the offering.

However, he did say that a team with South Carolina's defensive scheme and discipline is more difficult to trick.

"When you watch all the film on them there ain't a whole bunch of trick plays (that will work)," Bowden said following Thursday's workout. "They keep you in that three-deep umbrella and try to keep everything inside those eight guys. They do a good job. They're good at it, and their secondary's very disciplined."

If recent history tells us anything, something could be in the wind for Saturday.

It was this game two years ago, at Williams-Brice, where Bowden first introduced the "pod" into his offense in an attempt to catch the Gamecocks off guard.

"That's been around for years, but we kind of saved it," Bowden said. "I don't know why we hadn't used it before. We had it, but we didn't use it until then."


- Wide receiver Jackie Robinson (pulled groin) should play Saturday, Bowden said.

"He's not 100 percent, but he should be able to go. We'll just have to keep an eye on him," he said.

- Derrick Hamilton's role in kickoff and punt returns likely won't be determined until pregame drills Saturday.

Hamilton, who returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown last Saturday at Maryland, will work on fielding both kick and punts during warmups, along with Brian Mance. Bowden will make his decision based on how they handle those pregame kicks, he said.

- Bowden said the news that USC linebacker Kalimba Edwards definitely will miss Saturday's game won't change Clemson's offensive focus.

"It's not like the quarterback spot, where the spotlight shines on him every play," Bowden said. "If Phil (Petty) doesn't play, then you may have to change the way you approach things. But their defensive scheme is going to be the same whether Edwards plays or not."

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