Fry's Injury Brings Offensive Line Numbers Into Focus


by - Correspondent -
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Dustin Fry sits out of practice after the injury.

Practice Photos

CLEMSON - On just the second day of freshman workouts, Clemson head coach
Tommy Bowden got an early reminder of just how fragile his offensive line
might be in 2002.


Newcomer Dustin Fry (6-foot-2, 295 pounds), who earlier this week shattered
the Clemson freshman record by bench pressing 225 pounds 29 times, suffered a
dislocated kneecap participating in one-on-one drills during Tuesday's
morning workout.


Though he's only expected to miss a week to 10 days, that's enough time off
to throw the Summerville native's immediate playing future into at least some
doubt.


"He was the strongest that we had," Bowden said. "He's a guy that you know at
least will be physically strong enough to take a pounding..


"You couldn't say (he'll have to redshirt) now simply because you don't know
about the injury factor, you never know how quickly he'll pick things up when
he comes back, and you never know how good he is. But it makes it more
difficult."


Any injury to the offensive line this season, early or late, is one the
Tigers can ill afford.


Already charged with the task of trying to replace three starters from the
2001 unit, Bowden said two months ago that he and his staff had reevaluated
their strategy in recruiting offensive linemen because:


- Clemson was losing head-to-head battles for the top-rated linemen in the
country;


- The numbers along the line were much less than he liked because of the
comparatively small size of his first two recruiting classes (nine and 12,
respectively).


Tuesday's injury to Fry, though not as serious as perhaps it could have been,
served further highlight the issue.


"You bring in five (linemen) and you'd like to be able to see which of the
five progress the most to maybe plug into a hole," Bowden said. "Now it's
which of those four. You don't have as many numbers to choose from."


NOTES


- When the first full squad practice rolls around Friday, freshman
punter/kicker Cole Chason will be listed at No. 2 on the depth chart in all
phases of the kicking game - punting, kickoffs, field goals and extra points.


"He's looked good punting the ball," Bowden said. "Yeah, it was with no rush
coming at him, but you've got to start somewhere."


- The transition from high school to college will hit home the hardest
Friday, when Clemson's veterans report for the first time. After years of
being top dog, so to speak, the newcomers now will have to deal with being
just another face in the crowd.


"Instead of getting all the coaching they'll have to learn a lot by standing
at the back of the line and paying attention," Bowden said. "Coming out of
high school they're not used to it because they always played, and the last
two days they're not used to it because they've gotten all the attention.


"There will be some things they're not accustomed to, and some will react to
it quicker than others. There will be some mistakes made, you just hope they
give effort. If you're going to mess up, mess up full speed.


- There will be no practice today. The veterans will do conditioning drills
for approximately an hour in the morning.


Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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