CLEMSON - Though he tried to put on a brave face when he met with Anthony Waters late Saturday night, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden had a pretty good idea his redshirt senior linebacker had played his last down at Clemson.
Sunday morning, those fears were confirmed.
Waters was diagnosed with a torn ACL in his left knee Sunday and will miss the rest of the season. Because his redshirt year four years ago was not due to an injury, Waters is not a candidate for a sixth year of eligibility on hardship grounds.
"I talked to him at nine or 10 last night and had a pretty good idea of what was going on," Bowden said during his Sunday teleconference. "Still, you don't want to jump the gun on those things. But we got the final analysis (Sunday) morning."
Waters was injured during the third quarter of Saturday's 54-6 season-opening victory over Florida Atlantic at Death Valley.
He was chasing the Owls' quarterback, who made a cut back against the grain. When Waters stopped abruptly to change direction his left knee buckled and he went down in a heap.
He was not touched on the play.
"He's an experienced guy, he brought great intensity and some of that kind of rubbed off on other players," Bowden said. "Those are the benefits of having a fifth-year senior, and now all those intangibles you wipe out.
"But we have other good players, and someone will step up. Injuries are part of the game."
Redshirt freshman Korvell Conner is listed as Waters' immediate backup on the depth chart, though Bowden said one option being considered was moving Antonio Clay back inside.
"Our defensive staff is in (meetings) right now getting plan of attack," said Bowden. "We'll have one before practice on Monday. Now a sense of urgency has to rise from the freshmen. More will be expected from them in second game of the year, as opposed to fifth or sixth."
In other news, offensive linemen Roman Fry (sprained knee) and Nathan Bennett (sprained ankle), along with defensive lineman Rashaad Jackson are all listed as questionable for next Saturday's Boston College game.
But the offensive line's depth proved valuable Saturday, Bowden praising the play of Christian Capote, Thomas Austin and Barry Humphries.
Bowden also said he didn't expect to be reprimanded by the Atlantic Coast Conference for his first-half tirade against the official closest to the Clemson sideline. During the argument, in a fit of outrage, Bowden accidentally hit the official with his headset as he attempted to slam it to the Death Valley turf.
"It will be hard to get a reprimand when there was no penalty called," he said.
Bowden's anger stemmed from a play in which wide receiver Rendrick Taylor was ruled to have fumbled the ball after making a reception. Replays later showed his knee may have been down.
Bowden, trying to exercise a new rule put in by the NCAA this summer, said he kept verbally asking the official for a timeout so he could challenge the ruling on the field.
Bowden said the official refused to grant the timeout.
Pressed for further comment, Bowden stopped short.
"Anything else will have to come out of the conference office," he said.