Tigers Open Gator Bowl Practice


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<font class=caption>Tommy Bowden and the Tigers returned to the practice fields after more than two weeks away. </font>
Tommy Bowden and the Tigers returned to the practice fields after more than two weeks away.

CLEMSON - After more than two weeks away from the football field, Tommy Bowden decided to reacquaint his team with an old friend Thursday:

Conditioning drills.

The Tigers finished a short workout with lots of running, as they officially began preparations for the Gator Bowl Jan. 1 in Jacksonville, Fla.

"We did some conditioning after practice that we normally don't do," Bowden said. "We did it from two-a-days up until about the third game, and then I stopped. But now we'll go back."

The focus also is back on quarterback Woody Dantzler's left ankle.

The junior has been plagued by a cartilage problem for almost two months and will require surgery after the season. After being pulled from the lineup in three consecutive games - North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Florida State - Dantzler was able to finish the South Carolina game on Nov. 18.

How much the time off since then helps his chances of playing the entire Virginia Tech game remains to be seen.

"He looked okay (Thursday), but we really didn't do anything," Bowden said. "We really won't know until we go live and we see how he cuts at full speed."

Thursday's practice marked Brad Scott's first in his new role of offensive coordinator, a position he was promoted to when Rich Rodriguez took the head coaching job at West Virginia University.

Bowden said Virginia Tech can expect to see something different from Clemson's offense, but not necessarily because of Scott.

"You would have seen new wrinkles regardless of who it is because you've got a little bit more time to (prepare)," he said. "So you'll see a new wrinkle or two, and I'm sure Virginia Tech will do the same thing.

Notes:

- Offensive lineman Akil Smith was excused from Thursday's practice, but is expected to be back when workouts resume Saturday. Smith, who was redshirted this season while recovering from a blood clot in his lung, has been cleared for contact and should see his first live practice action in almost a year.

Keith Adams also missed Thursday, but for good reason. The junior linebacker is in Orlando being honored as one of the finalists for both the Bednarik and Butkus Awards.

- New quarterback coach Mike O'Cain is due in town today and will be at practice Saturday.

- Still no word on whether Ron West is leaving Clemson to join Rodriguez's new staff at WVU. West wasn't at practice Friday. Instead, he was off recruiting with several other Clemson assistants.

- Bowden flew to Orlando early Thursday to participate in the official Gator Bowl press conference, then flew back in time for practice.

"I had time to eat while I was there," he said.



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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