CLEMSON - Daring a team such as Florida State to throw the football would
have been the next best thing to suicide for Clemson the past couple of
Think about it. Even focusing on the Seminoles passing game the last two
seasons couldn't stop FSU from throwing for "what seems like a thousand
yards," Tigers' head coach Tommy Bowden said Sunday.
Yet in a perfect world this Thursday in Tallahassee, Clemson's defensive
focus will be trying to shut down the running game, making Florida State a
one-dimensional offense by forcing it to - hang on to your hats - throw the
"I think any defensive coordinator goes into most any game and wants to stop
the run first," Bowden said following the Tigers' practice. "That would be
our plan Thursday, too, even though you really wouldn't say that about the
past three seasons."
In reality, there really is no other gameplan to consider.
By stopping any team's running game first, it allows a defense more freedom
in how it plays the opponent's passing game. Without the threat of the run,
the play-action pass no longer threatens the safeties, which gives a
defensive coordinator more options along the lines of coverages and blitzes.
But stopping FSU's ground game will be easier said the done. Tailback Greg
Jones, a Beaufort native, has uncommon size for a player at his position. At
6-foot-1, 248 pounds, he outweighs virtually every Clemson linebacker and
member of the secondary, not to mention one or two linemen.
"We recruited him pretty hard, so I've seen a lot of film on him," Bowden
said. "You've got to get more than one hat on him. Trying to tackle him
one-on-one normally doesn't work."
Meanwhile, Bowden said of all his injured players, only defensive tackle Nick
Eason (sprained knee) is "highly questionable" for Thursday's game.
Running backs Bernard Rambert (tendonitis) and Chad Jasmin (groin), defensive
tackle Todd McClinton (ankle) and defensive end Khaleed Vaughn (ankle) and
linebacker Eric Sampson (bruised thigh) all are expected to play.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.