CLEMSON - Neither wide receiver Derrick Hamilton nor guard Cedric Johnson are
expected to start Saturday against visiting Louisiana Tech, despite each
being upgraded from doubtful to questionable Thursday by the Clemson coaching
Instead, Tony Elliott and Nick Black are on target to gain their first career
starts, according to offensive coordinator Brad Scott and offensive line
coach Ron West.
Hamilton, still struggling with a strained tendon in his lower leg, went
through some drills Thursday but "still isn't close to being 100 percent,"
Scott said. Johnson completed Thursday's entire workout - the Tigers
practiced in shorts - but will defer to Black on Saturday.
"I think we'll get something out of (Johnson). He looks a lot better than he
did on Monday and Tuesday," West said. "I would say he'll have a very good
shot to play, (but) right now I'm going to start Nick Black. He did all the
hard work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and Cedric didn't get a whole lot of
Black (6-foot-5) had been suffering from mysterious weight loss as recently
as two weeks ago, dropping as much as 21 pounds off his 292-pound frame. The
weight loss continued for a short time even after tests showed no apparent
But whatever the cause, it seems to have gone away now. West said Black has
put "six or seven" pounds back on and seems to be feeling much better.
"He's gotten that under control," West said. "He's feeling better and
Elliott, meanwhile, has proven himself a capable performer in practice and
now gets a shot to prove himself in game conditions.
Originally a walk-on transfer from Air Force, the 6-0, 210 senior had one
catch for 20 yards in a backup role in last Saturday's 31-28 loss at Georgia.
It was just his second career reception since coming to Clemson.
Still, Scott seems to have no reservations about plugging Elliott into
Hamilton's place in the starting lineup.
"He's a very dependable player," Scott said. "He runs good routes and catches
the ball. He's done that here for two years. I have total confidence he can
go out there and play that position. You give up just a little bit of speed,
but you certainly get a very dependable guy."
- Bernard Rambert (strained foot tendon) will not play Saturday. Yusef Kelly
will start in his spot, while Tye Hill and Chad Jasmin will provide backup.
- Results of an MRI confirmed that cornerback Toure Francis did indeed suffer
a torn ACL which will keep him out for the season. The exam also revealed a
torn MCL and cartilage damage.
Bowden also announced that Francis received the scholarship made available
when Tymere Zimmerman failed to gain admission to the school. Francis will
keep the scholarship despite his injury.
"He had earned a starting position," Bowden said. "I'm not going to punish
him for getting hurt."
- For the moment, at least, Wynn Kopp has maintained a grip on the punter's
job and will start Saturday. Aaron Hunt will continue kicking off.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 10 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.