Bowden Back on the Phone

The Clemson Tigers went back to practice Monday afternoon for the first time since Saturday's 35-6 win over Utah State. Injury updates on Chansi Stuckey and Ben Hall, as well as details about Tommy Bowden's Monday conversation with West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez are contained in this report. <BR>

Maryland Preparations Underway
The Tigers returned to practice Monday evening to begin preparations for the Maryland Terrapins. Head coach Tommy Bowden also began his preparations for the Terps by talking to West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez.

Rodriguez faced Maryland earlier this year in a 19-16 overtime loss.

"We discussed a couple of things," said Bowden of the conversation. "But they had five turnovers in that game. There's nothing really they did consistently that you could look at the film."

Bowden also said that Maryland used zone coverage in the secondary last season, and that seemed to give the Tigers' offense some problems.

"They did that some," said Bowden. "But last year we got in trouble a little bit and had a bunch of third and longs early. We'll see some of that (zone)."

Injury Update
There was good news to report on the injury front Monday as wide receiver Chansi Stuckey appears to be close to 100% again.

"Chansi Stuckey should be able to go," said Bowden in reference to Saturday's game against Maryland. "Ben Hall has looked good, but we won't go full contact until tomorrow."

Hall, who will be evaluated again tomorrow, suffered an arm injury in Saturday's win over Utah State.

Special Teams Turnaround
It was just two years ago that there appeared to be a serious need for a special teams coach at Clemson. After watching kickoff returns for a touchdowns against both Georgia and Florida State, and seeing the punter Wynn Kopp struggle through his senior season, Clemson's special teams were anything but special.

However in 2004, the Tigers' special teams may be one of the best in the country.

Entering Saturday's game, Clemson is one of just three teams nationally to rank in the top 15 in the nation in both punt returns and kickoff returns. The Tigers also have recorded three blocked punts in six games.

Jad Dean has recorded 13 touchbacks in 25 kickoffs and 19 of his 25 kickoffs have not been returned past the 20 yard-line. Punter Cole Chason has a 40-yard average and just 19 of his 35 punts have been returned.

Tommy Bowden attributed the turnaround namely to personnel.

"David Blackwell has done a good job with punt block again this year. Jad Dean has done a good job kicking off, and Justin Miller is a good punt returner," said Bowden. "Cole Chason has also done a good job not getting a punt blocked, but that's never really been a problem."

Parting Shots
Captains for Saturday's game will be Maurice Fountain (defense), Yusef Kelly (special teams), and Airese Currie (offense)...Clemson will play in the Atlantic division of the new ACC next year...The other division is called the Coastal Division...Bowden said that he prefers the earlier kick-off times because it allows his coaches time to recover after being on the road recruiting the night before..."They've got no down time because Sunday is a big work day and Friday night they are out recruiting. They don't have time with their wife and family," said the sixth year head coach. Top Stories