CLEMSON - Once thought lost for perhaps the entire season, Clemson tight end Cole Downer could be back by the end of this month.
Downer, who had his spleen removed as the result of an injury suffered in the triple overtime loss to Miami on Sept. 17, will be re-evaluated by doctors at the end of the month. If he is given clearance by the medical staff, the fifth-year senior could begin practice and be okay to play immediately.
"From everything I understand it's a six-week (deal), and Georgia Tech will be six weeks," head coach Tommy Bowden said following Thursday's practice. "I know his mother wants him to play and he wants to play, so they're going to be twisting the doctor's arm. They've about twisted it off."
Downer has been running and doing other conditioning work during practice, which has allowed him to stay in good physical condition.
But he hasn't had any contact in practice, for obvious reasons. And Bowden said even when/if Downer is cleared to play, that contact won't come in practice.
"I'm not going to hit him in practice," he said. "His parents will make that decision (to play), and then the contact will come (in the game). I won't hit him in practice."
With freshman tailback James Davis sidelined for at least three weeks with a broken wrist, the bulk of the running attack will fall on the shoulders of Reggie Merriweather and Kyle Browning.
However, Bowden said there's no set plan on how to distribute carries.
"It will be whoever has the hot hand," he said. "I think Reggie started against N.C. State, didn't he? He started the last two. But all the sudden (Davis) got hot. I'm sure if Kyle breaks a long one he might get a few more reps; and if Reggie does, he will."
Bowden said he would only use redshirt sophomore walk-on Paul Macko in an "emergency" situation. He said the same thing about Duane Coleman, who moved from tailback to cornerback the week of the Miami game.
"Duane hasn't worked at tailback any this week, but I think there's enough retention there where if we needed to use him for a play or two, he could do it," Bowden said.
Bowden said that, in a perfect world, he would love to get his reserves - including backup quarterback Will Proctor - significant playing time this week when winless Temple comes to town.
However, he refuses to make advance plans for such a scenario.
"I've too much common sense to say it's gonna happen, because it hasn't happened in the last two-and-a-half, three years here," he said. "I thought that against Utah State and it was (7-0) at the half...I hope it does happen, but I sure haven't planned on it."
Sports Information Director Tim Bourret said the Clemson ticket office is expecting a crowd of about 74,000 for Saturday's game, and it will surely be a pro-Tigers crowd.
Temple only bought 300 tickets for the contest.