Tigers Focused on Rivers Not Revenge


by - Correspondent -
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Yusef Kelly powers his way into the end zone for the Tigers in the fourth quarter against UVa.

CLEMSON - As much as Clemson fans might be thinking revenge tonight when the Tigers travel to N.C. State for a key ACC matchup, the thought hasn't crossed the mind of head coach Tommy Bowden.


It can't.


Sure, the memory of an embarrassing home loss on national television at the hands of the Wolfpack lingers. How could it not?


But Bowden hasn't used that loss as a motivational tool for this edition of the Tigers. There's too much going on in 2003 to spend any time looking back.


"Revenge is not going to have anything to do with this game," he said. "To me, if you start talking too much about revenge, you lose concentration on what you've got to execute as far as your offensive and defensive game plan.


"Again, I'm not naive to the fact that are players are 19 to 20 year olds. I haven't read any newspapers, but I imagine last year's game has been mentioned once or twice on TV, radio, or newspaper. Our players read that stuff.


"But again, I haven't discussed the revenge factor with our staff."


No, what Bowden and Co. have been focused on - must be focused on - is containing State quarterback Philip Rivers.


The Wolfpack senior has set record after record throughout his career, and despite other problem areas on the team he shows no sign of slowing down. Rivers heads up an offense averaging well over 30 points per game so far this season, and will be looking for even more tonight against a Clemson team rolling into town winners of four out of its last five.


So how do you slow the talented senior?


"I don't think you can play your base defense against him. Like most good quarterbacks, you need to make it a little more difficult with different coverage and pressure," Bowden said. "You need to be a little deceptive in your coverage and need to be able to apply pressure as well. You have to try and confuse guys like him."


It also helps to keep Rivers and his talented castmates - tailback T.A. McClendon and wide receiver Jerico Cotchery - in the one place they can't do any damage. On the bench.


To do that, the Tigers will need to control tempo and time of possession.


Enter Yusef Kelly.


In his first extended action of the season last week vs. Virginia, Kelly ran for 88 yards on 25 carries, including a bruising 12-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter. The stats may not look very impressive at first glance, but when you consider that none of Kelly's runs went for zero or minus yardage, it's a sign that perhaps Bowden has found a running game.


If he has, then Clemson has a better than even shot at winning in Raleigh.


If it comes down to a shootout, Rivers isn't likely to blink first.


Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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