Tigers Look for Answers Not More Questions in Atlanta

by - Correspondent -

ATLANTA - How will three weeks off affect No. 9 Georgia Tech's high-powered passing game today?

No one knows for sure, but Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden would like to see George Godsey and Co. sputter out of the Bobby Dodd Stadium gates when the teams meet today (3:30 p.m., ABC) in Atlanta.

What Bowden doesn't want to see is a Yellow Jackets' team with extra preparation time hitting on all cylinders from the opening whistle. But with such a long layoff since Tech last played, no one knows what to expect.

"It could go one way or the other," Bowden said. "It could give you time to get better...that's the one thing you don't know. That's the one thing you always fear, but you never know until you play.

"Hopefully their scout team can't imitate what we do offensively or defensively. So how are they going to react to the full-speed pass rush and tighter coverage? We won't know until game time."

Clemson has its own concerns, to be sure. Ten active players were restricted in their workouts this week, for everything ranging from sprained ankles and knees to pulled hamstrings.

Most of the injured were back and practicing at or near full strength by Thursday, however defensive tackles Nick Eason (sprained ankle) and Jovon Bush (bruised bone in foot) have been slower to heal. Both will be evaluated during pregame drills today before a final decision on their status is reached.

If neither can play, sophomore DeJuan Polk and redshirt freshman Donnell Washington will start, with freshmen Trey Tate and Eric Coleman as backups. Coleman was working at offensive tackle until Monday of this week.

Meanwhile, there's also the emotional and mental factor to consider.

Bowden said he isn't sure how his young players will bounce back from last Saturday's 26-24, last-second loss to Virginia at Death Valley.

"I've never seen this team in this position," he said. "We'll find out after (today). There are different personalities, different temperaments, how mad you get when you lose...I don't know from these guys yet, because they've never been put in that position.

"If this were a team of sophomores and juniors and we were playing next year after a loss, then I'd have a pretty good idea how they'd respond. I can't say that yet with this year's team."

At practice, at least, things were normal.

"They were a little quiet, then started gaining some enthusiasm back, which is what you have to have," Bowden said. "It seems like a normal scenario...for how they come back with a mental attitude."

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