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Clemson

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

August 25, 2003 The Big Picture The athletic administration and the fans are ready to see fifth-year coach Tommy Bowden finally earn his hefty paycheck. Bowden has yet to beat anybody he wasn't supposed to beat, and in the last two seasons his teams have performed poorly in big games. The Tigers have not been a major factor in the ACC race in more than a decade. There has been a real sense of urgency in this program since the humiliating (55-15) loss to Texas Tech in the Tangerine Bowl. The fans want more wins and a big bowl game, but the Tigers' talent and experience levels suggest that another finish in the middle of the league is more likely. The PooP Bowden's No. 1 complaint since taking the Clemson job has been the lack of quality facilities. Athletic director Terry Don Phillips is shaking a lot of hands and working long hours trying to find the cash to upgrade, but he knows that a more successful gridiron program would make his job much easier. The big question: Will Bowden even be around to benefit from the new facilities? The West End Zone project — with club seating, football offices and a museum — isn't scheduled to open until 2005. Bowden's recent recruiting classes have not been highly touted, but there is more speed on the roster. The fans want to know why his team doesn't play better. Is the talent overrated, or is the coaching staff in over its collective head? Building Blocks Cornerback Justin Miller quickly has developed into one of the best players in the ACC. He has the ball-hawking intangibles required to be great at his position, and he is the most physical player on the Clemson defense. Miller also will return kicks, and there again is talk of him playing some at wide receiver. At that position, the Tigers already have as much depth as anyone in the region. Airese Currie, Derrick Hamilton and Kevin Youngblood already are proven playmakers, and there are several more potential stars (including returning two-sport whiz Roscoe Crosby) behind them. Coming On Strong The early buzz in camp surrounded freshman kicker Jad Dean, who can drive kickoffs into the end zone and kick 60-yard field goals. He immediately will improve Clemson's struggling special teams if he can pile up touchbacks. Ends Vontrell Jamison and J.J. Howard showed signs in camp of becoming a devastating pass-rushing duo. Because of his hitting ability, freshman Tramaine Billie got Bowden's attention after moving from running back to rover. On offense, the Tigers will show off three new speed backs: Reggie Merriweather, Duane Coleman and Kyle Browning. Redshirt freshman linebacker Anthony Waters also looked impressive in August. Done For Me Lately

Year

ACC

Overall

Postseason

1993

5-3 (3)

9-3

Peach Bowl (W)

1994

4-4 (6)

5-6

None

1995

6-2 (3)

8-4

Gator Bowl (L)

1996

6-2 (2)

7-5

Peach Bowl (L)

1997

4-4 (5)

7-5

Peach Bowl (L)

1998

1-7 (8)

3-8

None

1999

5-3 (2)

6-6

Peach Bowl (L)

2001

4-4 (4)

7-5

Humanitarian Bowl (W)

2000

6-2 (2)

9-3

Gator Bowl (L)

2002

4-4 (5)

7-6

Tangerine Bowl (L)

ACC: 45-35 (.563); No. 3 in ACC
Overall: 68-51 (.571); No. 4 in ACC Cause For Concern? Both lines have holes. There is a lack of depth at linebacker and quarterback. The wide receivers can run, but there are too many drops and not enough tough catches. The offense lacks vision, and the defense struggles against the run. The special teams were anything but special last season. This team's overall toughness also has been questioned. The opener against Georgia will be an acid test for Bowden's offseason work in these areas. The Whole Truth “We got embarrassed sometimes last year, and that's not fun. I don't want to be on national TV looking like an idiot. We're not so good that if we don't show up and play our game, we're still going to win.”

— Clemson center Tommy Sharpe CHART BY: THE CLEMSON INSIDER   CHART BY: THE CLEMSON INSIDER