CLEMSON - Nick Black's first career start ended up being more of a marathon
than a sprint.
Black, a junior guard, was in the lineup in place of starter Cedric Johnson
for Saturday's 33-13 win over Louisiana Tech. Johnson, nursing a sprained
ankle, was supposed to play at least a reserve role Saturday. But when the
smoke cleared it was Black who took all the snaps at left guard.
Afterwards, he admitted it took a while for him to get comfortable.
"I just had to get used to it," he said. "But by the second half I settled
down a little bit more."
For Black, any playing time is a blessing these days.
About three weeks ago, during prefall camp, the 6-foot-5, then 292-pounder
began to mysteriously lose weight. In just a matter of days Black lost 21
pounds and was complaining of abdominal pains.
Subsequent tests showed no apparent problems, and Black slowly began to round
himself back into shape. Though not all the way back, he has returned about
seven pounds to his frame and seems to be improving on a daily basis.
"I don't really feel affected by it anymore," Black said. "Hopefully I'll put
all the weight back on and be able to keep doing my job."
Fortunately for Clemson, Black felt well enough to play well against a
Louisiana Tech team which talked openly about wanting to come to Death Valley
and get another shot at the Tigers following last December's Humanitarian
The Bulldogs accused Clemson of running up the score in the 49-24 victory,
and several members of the team pointed to Saturday's game as a chance for
Clemson, however, was more than ready for the challenge.
"Coach Bowden brought it up. It was on our bulletin board," Black said. "I
don't know how it affected (everyone), but I kind of took it as they didn't
respect Death Valley. The way the defense is stepping up and playing I don't
think teams will want to do that anymore."