CLEMSON - As the rains associated with Hurricane Katrina envelop the Upstate, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden hopes the weather allows his team a solid week of practice.
After all, it is game week. Finally.
After a long preseason camp, the Tigers prepare in earnest this week for Saturday's season-opener with visiting Texas A&M. The game kicks off at 8:07 p.m. and will televised live by ABC.
"You could see they're a little more attentive," Bowden said following Monday's workout. "It starts getting real close now, and you can sense a higher level of concentration."
That level of concentration could be tested this week if the weather doesn't cooperate.
With forecasts calling for Katrina-related rains over the next 24 hours or so, Clemson's saving grace again may be the artificial turf on the single practice field at the Jervey Complex. That is, of course, if rain is all that comes.
"As long as there's no lightning, or if it's not coming down in sheets, we can practice on the turf," Bowden said. "Otherwise we'll have to go inside (the indoor track facility) and work on assignments and things like that."
Meanwhile, with the Aggies looming at the end of the week, Bowden was asked if his main concern was his offensive line matching up with the Texas A&M defensive front.
Turns out, it's the other way around.
"I'm more concerned with our defensive line against their offensive front," he said. "We're fairly big offensively. I mean, not huge but we'll be in the 300-pound range...That's pretty evenly matched. Where we're unevenly matched is our defense front vs. their offensive line. I'm a little more concerned about that."
Prodded as to whether the concern came strictly from a size mismatch, or if the fact that no one has stepped forward as a leader among the defensive linemen, Bowden nodded his head.
"Both," he said.
On the injury front, while tight end Cole Downer returned to practice Monday, the player with whom he's battling for the position - Bobby Williamson - sprained his ankle during the workout.
Sports Information Director Tim Bourret said the severity of the injury wasn't immediately known.