Make or Break Time for The Tigers


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<font class=caption>Freshman wide receiver Derrick Hamilton (pulled hamstring) returned to practice Monday.</font>
Freshman wide receiver Derrick Hamilton (pulled hamstring) returned to practice Monday.

CLEMSON, SC — Tuesday's second preseason intrasquad scrimmage will be a last chance
of sorts for the Clemson Tigers.


It will be Tommy Bowden's final opportunity to see his team in live game
conditions until the Sept. 2 opener with The Citadel.


More importantly, the 10-day preparation period for that game begins
Wednesday. This afternoon, then, will be one last chance for players to prove
themselves worthy of inclusion in the game plan for the Bulldogs.


In other words, regardless of the unseasonably cool temperatures, the heat
most definitely is on.


"What you tell them is 'hey boys, this is your last shot. If you're going to
get in the plans you'd better show (today),'" Bowden said. "That's what they
need to do. This is the last time we'll show our offense vs. our defense, so
the guys who plan on getting in better make something happen."


AUDIO
Bowden talks to media after practice on Monday. (9:11)


Apparently several positions have posed more questions than answers.


The offensive line, for one, already was hurt by the loss of Akil Smith for the season due to his recovery from a blood clot in the lung. Kyle Young still
is nursing a stress fracture in his foot and hasn't practiced in at least 10
days, and Bowden announced Monday that Derrick Brantley, the 6-foot-6,
280-pound lineman from Southwest Mississippi Junior College will be
redshirted this season.


"There's a lot of positions (starting or second team) up for grabs, but the
line is probably the biggest one," Bowden said. "We'll also be looking at
running back, wide receiver, strong side linebacker and some backup defensive
back positions. The (offensive line) is the biggest one."


Notes:

— Today's scrimmage will begin at 5:45 p.m. in Death Valley, and is closed to
both the public and the media. The Tigers planned to do live kicking drills
in the stadium this morning, beginning at 7:30 a.m. The special teams work
was to last until approximately 10 a.m., and also is closed.


— Bowden was pleased with the intensity of Monday morning's workout in full
pads, especially since it came on the heels of an off day. The hitting was so
intense that at least five fights broke out during the better than two hour
practice.


"The enthusiasm and effort was really, really good," Bowden said. "On Monday
(morning) you thought they'd be down. If it's going to happen it usually
isn't Monday morning. It's usually Monday afternoon, or Wednesday or Thursday
afternoon when there's a little heat."


— The saga of sophomore backup linebacker Travis Roberts continues. Roberts,
who has been on an excused absence from practice for nearly two weeks, was
supposed to meet with Bowden Monday but didn't show.


"School starts Wednesday. I'm sure I'll talk to him by then," Bowden said.


— Freshman wide receiver Derrick Hamilton (pulled hamstring) returned to
practice Monday, but did little more than field punts during kicking drills.


"He's still just a little hobbled," Bowden said. "He hasn't been able to show
anything because he hasn't been turned loose."


Bowden said he still plans to get Hamilton into the opener with The Citadel,
probably as a punt or kickoff returner. But because he missed more than a
week with his injury, his conditioning and lack of reps in the offense likely
will keep him from seeing any significant time at wide receiver.


— Offensive lineman Neely Page's bad back is threatening to keep him out all
season, Bowden said. A final decision will be made at a later date.


— Injury update:


Out — Page (back), Young (foot), Justin Watts (knee), Altroy Bodrick (ankle),
walk-on freshman receiver Ron Allen (fractured hand).


In — Hamilton (hamstring).



Dan Scott is the sports editor of Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger.
His columns can be read at www.dailyjournalmessenger.com.

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