Tigers Begin Nashville Workouts

by - Correspondent -

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- Before the 2006 football season started, the Clemson Tigers had visions on maybe catching a few rays in the warm South Florida sun.

The only warmth the Tigers experienced Tuesday was the serenity of a their own locker room when they journeyed out of the 38-degree rainy weather that occupied them on their first practice at Goodpasture Christian School outside of Nashville --- Clemson’s home away from home for the next three days.

“It’s only thirty-eight,” Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said.

Tuesday was the Tigers first day in Nashville, Tenn. as they prepare for Friday’s Gaylord’s Hotel Music City Bowl. Clemson (8-4) was hoping for bigger things earlier in the season when it got off to a 7-1 start and peaked at No. 10 in the national polls. But thanks to three losses over the last four weeks of the season, Bowden is thankful not only to be at a bowl game, but that his players all arrived safely and on time.

“We’re very fortunate,” he said. “I drove yesterday in the rain and we hit an accident outside Chattanooga and we were at a stand still. It was a pretty good ride through the mountain and a bit more traffic than what I thought.

“I imagined there was a lot today, but everybody is here and that’s a good sign.”

The only trouble spot any of the Clemson players had while driving to Nashville from spending Christmas at home came at 2:45 a.m. Tuesday, when Bowden was awakened with a telephone call. Rendrick Taylor, Andrew Diomande, Terrence Ashe and Antwon Murchison were on their way to Nashville when they suffered a flat tire outside of Easley.

Taylor initially changed the flat, but the spare lasted just six miles and they had to call friends to come pick them up and help them fix the tire. That’s when Taylor took actions into his own hands and called Bowden directly.

“I was real nerves because he told us not to be late,” Taylor said, who expects to play on Saturday. “The possibility of us getting trouble, ‘I said we are not going to get in trouble.’ I took pictures of the tires just incase and did everything we could to make sure they understand we weren’t playing around and it was really serious.”

Bowden was pleased to hear from Taylor rather than wonder where they were at and why they were late.

“At least they did the right thing and called,” Bowden said. “Those that called at 2:45 in the morning, ended up getting here. We feel a little good about that being a good sign.”

Chancellor to replace Coleman.

Though Vic Koenning would not confirm it, it appears Chris Chancellor will start at field corner in the Music City Bowl, while C.J. Gaddis will start at boundary corner, replacing Duane Coleman who was suspended from the bowl and the game last week after being arrested for simple possession of marijuana.

Chancellor confirmed after Tuesday’s practice that he has been working with the first team defense since Coleman’s arrest --- a strong indication he will get the start.

“It will probably be the guy who had the best bowl practice and stepped up the best,” Koenning said. “I like for it to be a senior. It will probably not be a senior though, but instead a guy that gives us the best chance to be successful.”
Crezdon Butler, Chris Russell and Sergio Gilliam will also play in the rotation.

Is Kentucky hungrier? Friday’s Music City Bowl will mark Clemson’s 18th bowl appearance since 1985 and its 29th in its history. The Tigers have been bowl eligible in every season under Bowden with only the 2004 team not going to a bowl thanks to the brawl with South Carolina.

Kentucky (7-5) on the other hand will be making just its 11th bowl appearance and has not played in a bowl game in seven years. With that said, Clemson will find itself at a disadvantage when it comes to motivation and perhaps enthusiasm.

"That is a big concern," Bowden said. "When you have not been in seven years, you can not recreate that enthusiasm they will be able to manufacture before the game because of that. Yeah, it is kind of an old hat. You appeal a little bit of pride, finishing with three (straight) bowl wins and finishing with a nine-win season."
"There are some things left on the table for us with back-to-back top 25 seasons we haven’t had in 16 years and three (straight) bowl wins. There are some things left on the table for us, but they are a different type of attractions and a different type of reason to be enthusiastic.

"But they (Kentucky) have one not being there in seven years that will be hard to trump."

Quote of the day. When Bowden was asked did he have any concerns about Nashville being a part of SEC Country, he replied with: "This is Tennessee’s County. I don’t know about SEC. I don’t know if you tell Alabama and Auburn this is there country. This is Tennessee’s Country."

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