CLEMSON - Clemson's recent offensive resurgence not only has come with
Charlie Whitehurst taking over at quarterback, but with contributions from
other, more unexpected, sources as well.
For instance, walk-on sophomore Tommy Sharpe took over for Jermyn Chester at
center last Saturday at North Carolina and played well, only coming out
toward the end when the entire first team offense retired for the afternoon.
Fellow lineman Nathan Gillespie - a redshirt junior who has seen precious
little playing time during his career - suddenly found himself part of the
Tigers' new short yardage package.
And while it was Chad Jasmin catching two touchdown passes from the fullback
slot, it was redshirt freshman Cliff Harrell who blocked so well in running
situations that his playing time also is on the rise.
"I thought the line played pretty good (at North Carolina). They locked on
their blocks good, especially from tight end to tackle," head coach Tommy
Bowden said. "Their scheme allowed us to have some runs if we stayed locked,
(so) Sharpe probably starts again and there's a possibility that Gillespie
will get more work.
"And we'll look at Harrell more when we're in the I-formation."
The success of the younger players, especially, has Bowden playing the
With Whitehurst making the sudden splash at quarterback, and Tye Hill's
breakout game at tailback to compliment the play of others like Sharpe and
Harrell - not to mention cornerback Justin Miller - Bowden said he sometimes
looks at his offensive line and wonders what might have been.
"As I look at it now, you think more about taking the redshirt year (away)
from some of those offensive linemen," he said. "But that's second guessing.
There's always some doubt and indecision. You're always thinking 'What if
they had played and practiced the last nine weeks? How good would they be?'
That's always the case."
- Clemson will get back-to-back opportunities to improve their night record
on ESPN this season, which currently stands at 0-3.
This Saturday's Clemson-Maryland game will begin at 7:45 p.m. and be
televised on ESPN2. The regular season finale against South Carolina the next
week also will be a 7:45 p.m. start, this time on ESPN.