Thurs Practice Notes: More Playing Time for Keith Kelly

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - The object of Clemson's offense is to get the ball to those who can do the most damage, and do it quickly.

That's why, in last week's 31-10 win at Virginia, senior receiver Rod Gardner found himself lining up in several different positions, taking part in a wide variety of plays. Whether it be outside or in the slot, running the reverse or inside shovel pass - or even returning kickoffs - expect to see much more of Gardner again Saturday at Duke (Noon Eastern, Jefferson Pilot Sports).

"We want to try to get him the ball as often as possible," coach Tommy Bowden said following practice Thursday evening. "We try to get the ball in our most productive players' hands. That's why we moved him to so many places last week. We're going to continue to do that on a week-to-week basis."

The objective is simple.

The more play-makers you have on offense, the more difficult you are to defend. That's why Bowden again reiterated his desire to find more playing time for freshman running back Keith Kelly early in games, even though after saying the same thing a week ago, Kelly didn't play at all.

That decision was made following three turnovers Clemson suffered in the first half against Virginia. Bowden said he was afraid to play Kelly in that environment because of the way he (Bowden) was jumping on the other players who made the mistakes.

"I didn't want to alter his (aggressive) running style...then I've ruined him as a true freshman," Bowden said of the decision. "But we've got to find a way to get him the ball. We'll talk about that (tonight) when we put the final touches on the game plan. We'll try to find the exact spot if we can, regardless of field position and time."

The reason? Kelly is a potential play-maker.

"We're trying to get Keith the ball more to find out who's the best tailback," Bowden said. "We've got a guy (Travis Zachery) who knows the assignments best. The guy who knows them second best is Bernard (Rambert). The guy who knows them the least, simply because of experience, is Keith. But he might be the most talented.

"That's what we've got to find out. Until you do it in the game it doesn't count."


- Quote of the Week:

Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring on injured defensive tackle Jason Holloman, who hasn't practiced this week and isn't likely to play Saturday:

"I think he's got a crush on one of the pretty girls in the training room."

- Freddie James and Terry Jolley will start at defensive tackle, and will be backed up by Jevon Bush and Gary Childress.

- Joe Don Reames is "entrenched" as Clemson's punt returner, Bowden said. The Seneca High School product's 69-yard touchdown return vs. Virginia solidified his hold on the position.

"He's earned that job," Bowden said. "There's separation that has occurred."

When a reporter remarked, "About 69 yards of separation?," Bowden laughed.

"That wasn't hard to figure out, was it? I think even (the media) would have made that decision."

- Bowden on Woody Dantzler's decision-making at quarterback so far this season:

"Good, but room for growth. Coach (offensive coordinator Rich) Rodriguez calls him a work in progress, so we'll stick with that."

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