Practice Notebook: Kicking Game Woes Don't Just Haunt Clemson


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CLEMSON - After hitting his first five field goals of the season, Georgia Tech kicker Travis Bell has missed his last five, including four in one recent game.


Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden, reflecting on the subject after practice Thursday, could only come up with one similar scenario in his time as a head coach. It happened to be the first game in his first year at Clemson, when the Tigers made only one-of-four field goals in a 13-10 loss to Marshall.


Kicker, he said, is the one most likely to succumb to the mental aspect of the game.


"Maybe he got into an argument with his girlfriend, biorhythms, or maybe the sun, moon and stars weren't lined up," Bowden said. "Kicking is the position that takes the most mental toughness, by far. It's almost like a quarterback being in a slump, then starting to think about it..."


Bowden has had his own kicking game worries this season, but not in the field goal department.


Instead it's the punting game driving Clemson's staff crazy. Cole Chason's average is down significantly from a year ago, and the Tigers have had three punts blocked already this season.


Asked if he thought other teams were beginning to figure out his punt protection scheme, Bowden shook his head.


"When you look at the tape it's strictly us," he said. "We've got guys who haven't done a very good job (protecting), and we haven't done a very good job coaching it. If the player's aren't executing, it comes back our (coaches) way."


***


Bowden said that when instant replay comes back up for vote in the offseason, his preference will be for a system in which the coaches request a play be reviewed by throwing a red flag - much like the current NFL system.


"I've been told they review every single play," Bowden said. "But how many times are they looking at it? That's what I want to know."


There have been a number of plays this season that Bowden ended up questioning the review system. The most recent came against Temple, when replays appeared to show Gaines Adams sacked the Owls' quarterback in the end zone for a safety. But officials ruled the ball was on the one yard line, and the replay official never stopped play to review the call.


"There are a lot of coaches in this league with an NFL background - Chan Gailey, Al Groh, Ralph Friedgen. I'm sure they'll want to look at the other style of replay, too."


***


Rashaad Jackson will start at defensive tackle in place of the injured Donnell Clark.


Linebacker Anthony Waters and guard Roman Fry will be back in the lineup after being suspended for last week's Temple game.

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