Time to heal

Clemson is off this week, and the bye seems a timely reprieve.

The Tigers, coming off a physically and emotionally taxing 27-24 overtime loss at Auburn, are probably in need of some rejuvenation as they prepare to embark on a stretch of eight Atlantic Coast Conference games in eight weeks.

Several Clemson players emerged bruised and sore out of the Auburn game, including quarterback Kyle Parker, who took a helmet to the back while scrambling for a six-yard gain midway through the third quarter.

"He is beat up," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said of his sophomore quarterback. "His shoulder, ribs and back were sore. Kyle Parker really came through. It was a gutsy performance by that young man."

Indeed, Parker never left the game despite being in obvious pain. Two possessions after the hard hit to the back, Parker led Clemson on a nine-play, 77-yard drive that tied the score early in the fourth quarter, completing 3-of-4 passes on the drive.

Parker, who has signed a pro baseball contract with the Colorado Rockies, continues to earn the respect of his teammates.

"Here is a guy with a million bucks sitting in his bank account unless he gets hurt," tight end Dwayne Allen said. "If I was in his situation I don't know how I would react. He is a different guy; he is not me. He sucked it up and got back into the game."

Cornerback Marcus Gilchrist had to leave after a rugged collision late in the game and left guard David Smith also was injured late and had to be carted from the field, so Parker's not the only one in Clemson's camp hoping to recover fully before hosting Miami in its ACC opener on Oct. 2.

"After an emotional loss like this it will give us an opportunity to get healed up," said defensive end Da'Quan Bowers. "It was an emotional rollercoaster."

GAME BALL GOES TO: RB Andre Ellington -- Ellington enjoyed the best game of his career in Saturday's 27-24 overtime loss at Auburn. The redshirt sophomore repeatedly gashed Auburn's defense, amassing 140 yards rushing and scoring on a 2-yard touchdown run. Ellington also did plenty of damage as a receiver out of the backfield, catching four passes for 48 yards. He finished with 188 all-purpose yards, which also was a career best.

KEEP AN EYE ON: DE Da'Quan Bowers -- Bowers, who recently was projected as a No. 1 selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, showed why against Auburn. The 6-foot-4, 280-pound junior was relentless against Auburn, notching a season-high nine tackles, including three tackles for loss. Bowers now ranks third in the ACC with five tackles for loss this season and his effectiveness also is allowing Andre Branch to make more plays on the other end -- Branch ranks fourth in the league with 4.5 tackles for loss.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They rose up, and that's a good sign for me that we've got the right stuff. I told our team if we can harness that we have a chance to have a very good season." -- Clemson coach Dabo Swinney on his team's 27-24 overtime loss at Auburn on Saturday.

LOOKING GOOD: Clemson's strategy to replace former star C.J. Spiller by committee is working well so far. Andre Ellington had a career-high 140 yards rushing and 188 all-purpose yards in Saturday's overtime loss at Auburn while backfield mate Jamie Harper had one of the best games of his career, catching two touchdown passes, including a diving 25-yard grab that was runner-up for "Play of the Day" on ESPN.

Their versatility and ability to catch the ball as well as run it with authority has been evident in the Tigers' first three games, and a steady rotation has kept both back fresh-legged. Clemson's runners are averaging 5.8 yards per attempt, which is the second-best figure in the ACC.

STILL NEEDS WORK: Despite being laden with veterans, Clemson's defensive backfield has exhibited a penchant for surrendering the big play so far this season. It gave up 269 passing yards to North Texas in the opener, then were beaten on a 78 yard touchdown pass by Auburn in Saturday's 27-24 overtime defeat.

The good news is Auburn's Cameron Newton completed only seven passes against Clemson, but the bad news is he averaged a whopping 29 yards per completion, with the worst of multiple blown coverages coming on the 78-yard bomb.

"It was not anything more than stutter-and-go routes and we bit on them," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "It was not anything fancy, they just made a couple of huge plays that got them right back in it."

Kevin Steele added Tuesday his unit has been "dominant" at times, while "ineffective" at others. Considering his unit went three of four quarters and overtime without giving up a touchdown - but gave up 21 points in the third quarter - he's right.

INJURY UPDATES: OG David Smith suffered a high ankle sprain against Auburn. The redshirt junior will miss Clemson's next game against Miami on Oct. 2, but is expected to return to action sometime in October.

* QB Kyle Parker was bruised and sore after the Auburn game, but is expected to be ready for Miami. He'll be limited in practice during the open week.

* LB Jonathan "Tig" Willard did not play Saturday after suffering an elbow injury in practice last Wednesday. He's questionable for Miami.

* DT Jarvis Jenkins, who missed the Presbyterian game with a sprained knee, returned to action against Auburn, as did OT Phillip Price, who was questionable after spraining his ankle against Presbyterian on Sept. 11.

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