Clemson Hits The Field For Practice #2

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The Clemson Football Team continued its preparations for the 2005 season on Saturday with practice #2 of 29 before the 17th ranked(coaches’ poll) Texas A&M Aggies roll into Death Valley on September 3rd at 8:00PM before an ABC television audience. The Tigers are still in the NCAA’s five-day acclimation period, and worked out in shorts for the second consecutive day. Tommy Bowden’s team will work out for the first time with shoulder pads on Sunday and Monday, before the first full pads practice of the season on Tuesday. The first full-contact scrimmage is scheduled for August 13th in Death Valley.

Clemson did run into some rain during its two and-a-half hour workout Saturday, but there was no lightning to warrant practice being stopped, unlike Friday.

One portion of the team which can begin to form during the practices in shorts is the special teams. Clemson returns starters in junior place-kicker Jad Dean and junior punter Cole Chason, and will look to junior Nic Riddle to take over the long-snapping duties. Riddle has some game experience, as he participated in last year’s Utah State game. Chason worked with the first team field goal unit as the holder, while freshman Tyler Grisham also got some reps as a holder. There are numerous candidates that will try to fill the big shoes of Justin Miller in the return game, among them are Chansi Stuckey, Kelvin Grant, and Duane Coleman. “We have both starting kickers back, but you still have to work on that aspect of the game quite a bit," said Bowden. "We need to find a backup punter. It will make Cole Chason a better player."

The main goal of the first days of work without pads is to get the players re-introduced to the new systems they learned in the spring on both sides of the ball. Offensive Coordinator Rob Spence and Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning each had 15 practices in the spring to introduce their new systems, and now is the time they can add on to the foundations they built.

The 2005 season has a chance to see the most true freshmen play in the Tommy Bowden Era. If there are some rookies that will avoid a red-shirt in 2005 then they’ll have to do a great job off the field learning the new systems as well as proving on the field that they are ready to play. Bowden mentioned several freshmen after Friday’s first practice, and singled out one after Saturday’s practice.

“We have been surprised by how strong (Haydrian) Lewis is," said Bowden. "He seems very comfortable in the secondary and is fundamentally sound. He comes from a quality program (Stratford HS), you can see that."

Bowden also took time after practice to single out the tight ends, complimenting their conditioning and previewing how they could play more of a role in the Clemson offense this season, stating, "All the tight ends have really done a good job so far. They all reported in good condition and will be a big part of our offense this year. That has not been the case since I have been at Clemson, but it is something I have done when I was an offensive coordinator."

Clemson will return to practice on Sunday in shells (shorts and shoulder pads). The practice is closed to the public.

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