CLEMSON - Walk-on Tommy Sharpe's move to starting center this week is as much
about his good work in practice as it is Jermyn Chester's recent struggles,
Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said.
Bowden confirmed Thursday that Sharpe, a 6-foot, 253-pound sophomore, will
replace Chester at center Saturday when the Tigers (5-4, 3-3 Atlantic Coast
Conference) travel to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina (2-7, 0-5). Chester,
who Bowden said "had a bad game" against Duke, is expected to see playing
time as well.
"(Sharpe's) done a really good job," Bowden said following Thursday's
practice. "It's not so much Jermyn has done a whole lot bad. Their
performance is equal enough where he deserves to play. He was going to play
last week but he was hurt."
Sharpe missed last Saturday's game at Duke with a bacterial infection.
Meanwhile, Bowden said he doesn't pay particular attention to the talk that
jumping on North Carolina early would be the best course of action this week.
The Tar Heels have lost five in a row, including last week's 59-7 defeat at
the hands of Maryland. Worse, they have yet to win a game at home, and
Saturday presents the final opportunity to do so.
But rather than worry about a slow start that might fuel UNC's wavering
confidence, Bowden is more concerned about preparing for a 60-minute game.
"We try to start fast every game, we try to stop them every game," he said.
"We just talk about playing hard for 60 minutes. Nothing that happens in the
first three or four minutes will determine the outcome of a 60-minute game."
- Former Clemson standout Jerry Butler was on hand for Thursday's practice,
scouting for the Cleveland Browns. Bowden took the opportunity to have Butler
address the team, something he's done when possible since coming to Clemson.
"He's a guy who played here, was a first-round draft choice and played nine
years up there (NFL)," Bowden said. "(The players) all have dreams and
aspirations, so it was good for them to hear from someone like that."
- Tailback Yusef Kelly (bruised thigh) continues to be listed as doubtful for
Saturday. Tye Hill - who hasn't carried the ball since his 32-yard touchdown
run at Virginia - is expected to split time at the position with senior
Defensive tackle Donnell Washington (sprained ankle) is questionable.