CLEMSON - With a 12-day gap between games, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden isn't relaxing.
Not with a 1-3 record. Not with two losses inside the ACC.
Not with a season to salvage.
The Tigers began this week's shortened practice schedule with several players in new roles, moves Bowden hopes will provide both stability and long-term success for his team.
Among the moves:
- True freshman Barry Richardson, who has been backing up Jesse Pickens at left tackle, will move into the starting role full time beginning with the Virginia game on Oct. 7;
- Nathan Bennett returns to the starting lineup at guard;
- Duane Coleman, healthy and in shape, resumes his spot as the starting tailback;
- And Curtis Baham has displaced Kelvin Grant as the starter when Clemson is in the three wide receiver set.
Of the moves, Bowden seems most excited about the progress of Richardson.
He has played 74 snaps over the last two games, 38 at Texas A&M and 36 at Florida State. He played the entire second half in Tallahassee and received high grades for his performance from line coach Brad Scott. Richardson did not allow a sack against the Seminoles and had an 81 percent technique grade.
"I’ve been really impressed with him. He has just done an excellent job," Bowden said. "If he stays hungry for what he is doing...with working on technique and improving his footwork and at his size and with experience, he's going to be just an excellent football player.”
Bowden also commented on Baham's move ahead of Grant, saying Grant had played well earlier this season, but "Curtis has performed better than him the last couple of games."
The other area of Bowden's focus at the moment is turnovers - not only decreasing Clemson's (14) but increasing takeaways (2). The Tigers are last in the NCAA - 117th - in turnover margin.
Bowden said he has talked to a number of other head coaches around the country in recent days - Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Michigan's Lloyd Carr and Pete Carroll at USC, to name a few - to get ideas on how to create more turnovers on defense.
Turnovers, missed tackles and dropped passes will continue to be the focus of this week's practices.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger and TigerNet. 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.