CLEMSON - If Clemson had to make the trip to Atlanta to play Georgia Tech today, as many as 10 starters might miss the game due to injuries.
Fortunately for Tommy Bowden, his team doesn't play today. It has three more days of treatment time before Saturday's 3:30 p.m. kickoff at Bobby Dodd Stadium. But even if all 10 are ready by then, Bowden and his staff are faced with the season's most difficult test:
Facing the No. 9 Yellow Jackets, easily the best team on the Tigers' schedule so far, after unquestionably the most disappointing performance of the young 2001 season - last Saturday's 26-24 loss to visiting Virginia.
"A lot of times when you talk about injuries people say you're making excuses, so I'm just responding to the question," Bowden said at his Tuesday press conference. "This is the most injuries we've had since I've been here as far as season ending
injuries or after a game. We were kind of thin at some positions anyway, so it's a little more costly.
"We were already thin in the defensive line. With Jovon Bush and Nick Eason out at this point in the week, it makes it a little more thin. It just happens to be the first time since I've been a head coach I've had this many. Usually we don't talk this much about injuries."
PRESS CONFERENCE AUDIO |
Tommy Bowden Press Conference
- Real | Windows Media
Reggie Herring apologizes to the fans for his comments and talks about the defense
- Real | Windows Media
But those missing from practice have been the story of this week, at least so far.
Clemson is so thin at wide receiver, pending the availability of J.J. McKelvey (sprained knee) and Matt Bailey (pulled hamstring), that Bowden may be forced to abandon his four wide receiver set much of the time Saturday.
He and his staff also could be faced with some long-term decisions, such as whether they can carry through with the plan to redshirt sophomore receiver Ronnie Thomas.
"If we don't get J.J. McKelvey and Matt Bailey back then it could affect our game plan and we'll go to more three-receiver sets. You plan around it because you have to make decisions about redshirting. We do talk about it and do have a generic plan."
All of this makes the task of preparing for Georgia Tech all the more difficult.
But prepare they must, knowing that if there is to be a run for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 2001, it must start with a victory Saturday in hostile territory.
"It's a game we have to win if we want to win the conference," Bowden said. "If you
want to win the conference championship, you won't do it with two losses.
"So in that regard, it's a must win."
2001 Signee Drops Out of JUCO
Derrick Higgins, the wide receiver from Lamar High School who signed with Clemson last Feb. but wasn't able to meed the NCAA minimum entrance requirements, has left Georgia Military Academy.
Sources say Higgins has enrolled at South Carolina State, but has given up football.
Derrick Higgins Bio |
Another outstanding receiver in this 2001 signee class, he had 80 catches for 1271 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior...had 26 total touchdowns as a senior...set record in state championship game with 20 receptions for 294 yards and three touchdowns in one game...set school record with a 104-yard interception return for a touchdown in another game...had nine interceptions on defense, three of which he returned for a touchdown as a senior...also had 63 tackles, all-state as a junior and senior, he was a three-time all-region choice...the class A Offensive Player of the Year in South Carolina as chosen by the South Carolina Coach's Association...also named to their all-state team...also chosen all-state by Columbia State, High School Sports Report and Prep Football...played in the North-South All-Star game in Myrtle Beach....Darlington County Player of the Year...played his high school football for J.R. Boyd at Lamar High, the same school that sent Levon Kirkland (now Pittsburgh Steelers) to Clemson...born 9-1-82...chose Clemson over South Carolina.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger and the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9.