String of Close Games Should Help Tigers


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - If Clemson has one thing in its favor Saturday when South Carolina rolls into Death Valley, it's the knowledge that a close game in the fourth quarter won't catch anyone by surprise.


Six of Clemson's first 10 games have come down to the final play. The Tigers have won four of them.


So any bit of drama down the stretch Saturday afternoon isn't going to shock anyone wearing orange.


"I don't know if I've ever been around a season (like this)," head coach Tommy Bowden said following Wednesday's practice. "The Texas A&M and Florida State games (got away) right at the end of the third, beginning of the fourth quarter largely because of offensive turnovers. We haven't had any games like Wake Forest (2003) where it's 35-0 at the half and we're out.


"We've played 10 games and we've not had one game like that."


At 5-5, the final outcome hasn't been what Bowden had hoped half the time.


But the fact that the Tigers continue to put themselves in position to win at the end, despite turnovers and despite the 109th-ranked offense in the country, has pleased him. The attitude, he said, has remained good all season.


And, as one might expect with the Gamecocks on the horizon, the attitude has been even better this week.


"At 1-4 this could have very easily turned the other way," Bowden said. "As far as their effort, the real disappointment is in my inability to have more wins. It's nothing with the players. Six games in the last second, I wish they could have been rewarded with more wins."


***


Bowden said there has been very little bulletin board material this week coming out of either camp. Players on both sides seem to be choosing their words carefully during interviews.


The only real fodder comes from comments USC defensive coordinator Rick Minter made back before the season started, and Bowden said that's nothing new.


"That's been up since August. It seems like every IPTAY member has sent me copies of that stuff," he said with a laugh. "They've killed four trees sending it to me."


***


It appears the Tigers will be at full strength Saturday.


Wide receiver Chansi Stuckey (ankle) is "better than he has been in a while," Bowden said. Linebacker Leroy Hill (hand) is expected to play, as is fullback Cliff Harrell (ankle).

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