Exams Winding Down, Clemson's Focus Turns to Colorado

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - One day after being driven indoors by Mother Nature, Clemson's football team returned to the wide open spaces of the Jervey practice facility Friday evening to continue preparation for the bowl game vs. Colorado.

Head coach Tommy Bowden took advantage of the relatively mild - albeit cold - conditions under the lights, putting his team through a two-and-a-half hour practice in full pads which contained plenty of live hitting.

The Tigers face Colorado in the Champs Sports Bowl Dec. 27 in Orlando.

"It was actually a pretty good practice," Bowden said. "The two we had before (Thursday), and then today have been good...We still have a little distraction with finals. In fact a couple of players (tight end Cole Downer, defensive end Charles Bennett) missed with finals tonight. But we couldn't put off practice much longer, playing so early."

The next couple of weeks represent a unique time frame for the Tigers.

Once finals are complete Saturday, the team and coaches will enter the only time of the season during which they will practice with no academic concerns with which to deal. No classes. No labs. No exams.

Just football from now until Dec. 27.

"I wish we had more of those practices," Bowden said. "We only have (Saturday), Sunday - I don't like practicing on Sunday - Monday and Tuesday morning at 8:00. We've only got those practices...and the 23rd, 24th and 25th down there. We'll get about six good days in without any major distractions.

"You get four days (preparation) during the regular season."

The only academic concern remaining is the posting of grades and the possible effect they could have on eligibility.

Grades must be posted by Wednesday, according to sports information director Tim Bourret. Bowden said he and his staff have monitored the team's academics closely and know which players, if any, might be in jeopardy.

"Probably Monday we can give you an update," Bowden said. "We monitor it pretty good and we have a pretty good idea who's bordererline."

Asked if there were any serious academic concerns, Bowden said "No."


- No players missed the workout with injuries. Bowden said a few players still have one more day of exams to fit in Saturday morning. Saturday's workout runs from 3:30-6 p.m.

- Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst took every snap with the first team offense Friday. Bowden said the senior is showing few ill effects from his recent arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

- A pair of Clemson prospects watched the open practice Friday night - both from the sidelines and from the comfort of a warm motor home parked behind the end zone of one of the practice fields. Bowden said a third recruit was due in Saturday.

- Bowden praised the Colorado brass for acting quickly in hiring Dan Hawkins from Boise State to replace the fired Gary Barnett.

"No doubt it gives them some extra motivation," he said. "Now there will be some accountability on the sidelines. For the underclassmen, he (Hawkins) is their guy."

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