The Countdown is On

For the Clemson Tigers, the next few days will offer a quick break before heading down to Atlanta for the final week of practice leading up to the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl match up with sixth ranked Tennessee. "This really has been a good time for us," said Tommy Sharpe.

With Christmas just two days away, and the first round of bowl practices for the Clemson Tigers now complete, the countdown to the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl on January 2nd is officially on.

One week from this Friday, the Tigers will battle 6th ranked Tennessee in what promises to be one of the most anticipated bowl games for Clemson fans in recent memory.

But now comes the hard part.


Most of the team has already returned home after finishing up their last practice on the practice fields of Clemson yesterday morning. In fact, the Tigers aren't scheduled to reconvene until 2 o'clock Friday afternoon in Atlanta, when players are required to check in at their hotel.

"I'm looking forward to getting home and relaxing a little bit," said Charlie Whitehurst. "But the game will be in the back of my mind some too, I know that."

This time of year is always an exciting time for teams involved in postseason play. Not only do the players get extra time to try and develop their skills in practice, they also get the opportunity to see what some of the younger guys can do.

"This really has been a good time for us," said Tommy Sharpe. "The younger guys have been getting some reps and we had a nice layoff there before the last week of practice to heal after the end of the regular season."

The mood right before Christmas time among the players is certainly relaxed, and understandably so. The end of the 2003 regular season saw the Tigers perform at a level that hasn't been seen in these parts in probably a good 10 years.

And after soundly defeating archrival South Carolina in the season finale, there is only one thing that burns in the back of the minds of a lot of these guys: getting over that last hurdle and winning a bowl game.

"We still remember what happened last year in Orlando," said Whitehurst. "I don't want to ever feel that way again. We definitely want to get that taste out of our mouth and go out and play well against Tennessee."

The 55-15 loss to Texas Tech in the 2002 Tangerine Bowl was undoubtedly one of the lowest points of the Tommy Bowden era. The Red Raiders scored at will throughout the first two quarters of the game in building a 34-2 halftime lead.

After that, there was no looking back as the Tigers would end up being embarrassed on national television in the 40-point defeat.

"Nothing went right for us that night, there's no doubt about that," said Sharpe. "We remember what happened, but this is a different team, a different year, and we've got different players and a lot of confidence and momentum going right now. That won't happen again."

With just a handful of days off until heading to Atlanta for final preparations for Tennessee, it won't be too much longer before we find out if the Tigers' starting center on the offensive line is right. Top Stories