Spring Practice Begins for the Tigers


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<font class=caption>Clemson fans got their first look at Duane Coleman in action on Saturday.</a>
Clemson fans got their first look at Duane Coleman in action on Saturday.

CLEMSON -- It was spring practice all right.


The atmosphere was relaxed, the players were in shorts, the coaches didn’t seem quite so upset when someone dropped a ball.

But the temperature said it was winter still.

Clemson practiced for nearly three hours Saturday morning in 40 degree temperatures and a light mist. Just two months removed from an embarrassing 55-15 loss to Texas Tech in the Tangerine Bowl, it was time to shake the rust off and start playing football again.

“We had a little rust we had to brush off and I think we accomplished that,” said quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. “They were teaching a lot. The pads go on Wednesday so we’ve got a couple of days to learn it again.”

Most of the time was spent in groups. The defense and offense never went head to head except when the offensive backfield and the defensive backfield participated in some skeleton drills. The volume in defensive coordinator John Lovett’s voice went up when he spotted Justin Miller playing man-to-man against Derrick Hamilton when he should have been playing zone.

We really couldn’t do much,” said Miller, who watched Hamilton catch at least one pass against him. “No pads, so you couldn’t get as physical as you want to be. I knew what I was doing. We just all have to get in synch playing football. Anytime you take a break, you’re not as efficient as you were.”

Miller is the least of the team’s worries this spring.

Bowden needs to put together an offensive line and he needs to find a wide receivers coach.

He spent Saturday coaching the wideouts after Rick Stockstill’s departure for East Carolina earlier in the week. Bowden said he took his duties in stride.

“I had done it for so long. I played it for four years and coached it for fifteen,” he said. “The terminology changes, but the routes are pretty much the same. In the passing game you’re pretty much working on the fundamentals. It’s kinda like riding a bike. When you play it and coach it all those years, it’s easy.”

Bowden said his goals this spring are basic. “Run the football better and stopping the run,” he said. “Short yardage and the fundamentals that you’re allowed to work on in the spring…placement of personnel…getting the best eleven on the field and the fundamentals.”
Clemson practices again on Monday and then puts the pads on Wednesday. The intensity should pick up then.

“You see the intensity a lot more as a head coach as you walk from drill to drill,” said Bowden. “It’s laid back in that you’re in shorts and football is played in pads. There’s nothing you can do about that. The NCAA mandates what you can do from that standpoint.”

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