Players Keep Focus as Opener Gets Closer


by - Correspondent -
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Roscoe Crosby continues to make up ground in practice.
Roscoe Crosby continues to make up ground in practice.

CLEMSON - While the final few days before Saturday's season opener vs. No. 9 Georgia at Death Valley may be dragging along for Clemson fans, such isn't the case for Tommy Bowden's players.


With preseason camp over and classes now underway, Bowden said this is the time when his players tend to be excited.


"They're a lot more attentive, a lot more enthusiastic now," he said. "Now's the time you start getting there. You could tell today."


Along with that excitement comes hope of an upset victory over the Bulldogs, one which would get the 2003 season off to a markedly better start than a year ago.


But the advantages the so-called experts are giving the Tigers - conditioning and depth, the latter because of Georgia's injuries and suspensions - don't fly with Bowden.


Why?


Talent level, Bowden said.


"You go back and watch their game last year and watch the number of substitutions they made. It will be the same," he said. "Their first-teamers are going to play. Ours are too.


"The other thing you've got to remember, the second teamers and third teamers they're putting in are guys who turned us down. Every one of them. We couldn't get none of them. Therefore when they put in a second-teamer, and we put in a second-teamer, or third-teamer, it's the quality of the substitutions.


"Go ask Khalid (Vaughn) or Leroy Hill or J.J. Howard, who are starting for us. Cedric Johnson is starting for us. Go ask Charlie (Whitehurst). Go ask any of those guys if they got offered by Georgia. So when they have third-teamers they chose as better than our starters, what difference does it make?"


In other news from Wednesday, Bowden said he was encouraged by the way wide receiver Roscoe Crosby continues to make up ground after being away from the program for roughly 18 months.


"He keeps getting better, familiarity with assignments and that kind of thing," he said. "He's starting to catch the ball better than he did his first couple of days."


Bowden also said that running back Yusef Kelly, who will play in a backup role Saturday, will be "back in the mix" of things for the starting tailback spot beginning next week.


Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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