Tigers Face Own "Survivor" Challenge

by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON, SC - As the Sept. 2 season opener with The Citadel draws near, Clemson's football team looks more like a walking MASH unit each day.

Junior center Kyle Young hasn't practiced in two weeks because of a stress fracture in his foot, and though he was upgraded slightly Wednesday, his status for the opener remains uncertain. The same goes for freshman wide receiver Derrick Hamilton, who has been nursing a pulled hamstring for nearly the same amount of time.

Freshman running back Keith Kelly, who had missed time with a hip flexor but returned for Tuesday night's scrimmage, re-injured himself Wednesday and is on the shelf again. Redshirt freshman Charles Harper continues to miss time with a pulled hamstring, while wide receiver Justin Watts sits out with a bad knee.

All this, of course, after junior offensive tackle Akil Smith was redshirted while he recovers from a blood clot in his lung, junior college offensive tackle Derrick Brantley was redshirted, and sophomore tight end Pat Cyrgalis was dismissed from the team.

As if all that isn't enough, Wednesday brought the following revelations:

- Senior free safety and Thorpe Award candidate Robert Carswell will have outpatient surgery today to reattach a tendon to the bone in his right thumb;

- Junior guard Neely Page's career has ended because of a bulging disk in his back. He will receive a medical redshirt this season;

- Sophomore linebacker Travis Roberts also saw his career end Wednesday due to problems with asthma. Roberts, who also will receive a medical redshirt this season, had been excused from practice for nearly two weeks;

Bowden talks to media after the practice on Wednesday. (4:39)

- And on a non-injury front, senior wide receiver Mike Seth has decided to leave the football team. He will stay at Clemson to finish his degree in December, then transfer to a Div. I-AA school to complete his final year of eligibility next season.

All in all, a very active day off the field, not to mention what transpired at the Jervey Athletic Complex, where the Tigers Wednesday began preparations for The Citadel.

"We're probably at 76-77 (recruited) scholarship players now," Bowden said. "Next year we'll have 25-30 scholarships to give, which is good.

"Now, walk-ons are more important than ever. And with no open dates, injuries are more of a factor. That's why when you go through a scrimmage (Tuesday) of 120-some snaps, you hold your breath and pray."

Carswell's injury, though not considered serious, has proven to be the most baffling. No one - Bowden, trainer Danny Poole, or even Carswell himself - knows exactly how, when or where the preseason All-American suffered the injury.

"We can't figure it out," Poole said. "He and I have about beat our heads and can't figure out how he did it. But he'll be out of practice (today), and then we'll take it day by day. If he plays against The Citadel, he'll have to play in some kind of brace."

If Carswell can't play Sept. 2, senior Darrel Crutchfield could temporarily move from his current battle for the cornerback position to free safety, which would elevate sophomore Brian Mance to the starting corner spot.


- Redshirt freshman Jermyn Chester, moved back to his natural guard position before Tuesday's scrimmage, performed extremely well and immediately moved to second on the depth chart. Offensive line coach Ron West had experimented with making Chester a center during the spring and through the first two weeks of fall practice, but the Titusville, Fla. native struggled with the new position and fell to third on the depth chart.

- Conversely, after studying film of the scrimmage Bowden said senior offensive tackle John McDermott "did not play well," and that freshman tackle Nick Black "still has not regained the intensity he showed in the spring."

- Bowden said the scout team offense had difficulty imitating The Citadel's flex-bone offense in the first day of preparations.

"Their offense is difficult to execute, but it's just the first day. It'll get better," he said. "Their defense is easier to execute."

- Poole said Young's activity is increasing daily.

"It's a process where we're trying to see if he gets any pain doing different types of drills," Poole said. "We started off jogging in the whirlpool in the training room, and once we got to the point where there's no pain doing that we started him jogging on the field. There's a lot of different things they do offensively we try to mimic on the side, then we get him back to doing things against other players and see how it reacts to that."

Dan Scott is the sports editor of Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger.
His columns can be read at www.dailyjournalmessenger.com.

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