CLEMSON - Almost lost in the shuffle of special teams blunders and offensive
exploits in last Thursday's 48-31 loss at Florida State was another serious
injury to a Clemson offensive lineman.
Backup guard Nick Black, who had started one game this season and proven
himself to be a valuable member of the line rotation, suffered a broken right
leg during the second quarter in Tallahassee. Black will miss the rest of the
regular season in yet another blow to the one position the Tigers could ill
afford this type of injury.
Senior tackle Derrick Brantley was lost for the season earlier this year with
a pair of torn ligaments in his knee.
"Sometimes you'll get injured for a week or two, or someone will get injured
for a game, but now we've had a starting tackle and a critical backup go out
for the year," head coach Tommy Bowden said. "It's where we were thin anyway.
It's a position we didn't want to sustain any injuries because we were thin
The loss of Black leaves redshirt freshman Mark Jetton and graduate Nathan
Gillespie as the top two reserves. Sophomore junior college transfer Vontrell
Jamison - who just three weeks ago moved from defensive end to offensive
tackle - also becomes more important, as does redshirt freshman Chip Myrick.
And Black's injury moves Roman Fry, the only true freshman lineman dressing
and traveling with the team, one step closer to being forced into action this
Whatever the case, Bowden expects some experimentation this week.
"Jamison made some really good progress during the open date, and Nate
Gillespie has played both guard and tackle," he said. "You kick Nate in at
guard, let Vontrell continue to come on, and Jetton and Myrick are a couple
of other guys you can experiment with.
"I'm trying to redshirt all those other guys, and with seven games left -
eight with a bowl - you don't want to pull one of those guys out if they're
only going to play a snap or two. We've got a couple of pieces of the puzzle,
but it's getting really critical."