Clemson Notebook + WestZone Update

On the first true cold practice of the season, the Clemson football team had a fresh face at practice Tuesday evening. However, with the return of one player, it's very possible another may miss this weekend.

Senior linebacker Eric Sampson, who hasn't played since the Virginia game on Oct. 7, due to a hurt leg, practiced Tuesday and had been cleared to play at Duke Saturday.

"His leg ought to be fresh," Tigers coach Tommy Bowden said with a smile. "He's been on vacation for six weeks."

However, wide receiver Chansi Stuckey is still hampered by a sprained ankle sustained in Saturday in the Miami game. The prospect of him playing against the Blue Devils doesn't look good.

"When skill guys get nicked up, usually they're not very productive," Bowden said. "It doesn't look good for him."

Bids for the first phase of the West End Zone Project have started coming in from various contractors throughout the country and the one returning the lowest price will most likely get the contract.

A ceremonial groundbreaking of the project will take place next Saturday when the Tigers face South Carolina, Clemson athletics director Terry Don Phillips said Tuesday. Preliminary work will begin immediately following the game, which construction slated for January.

The first phase is projected to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million, and will include club seats, bowling in the end zone, putting up a widescreen, state-of-the-art video screen, and game-day operations, which include a recruiting room, dressing rooms for both teams, an equipment room, and other amenities.

The second phase will focus on finishing out the football aspect of it, such as offices. Also included will be a Champions Walk and a museum.

All told, the project will roughly cost $55 million.

It was initially thought that the project would mean the loss of some seats to Memorial Stadium, but Phillips said 914 club seats will be added, all of which have been sold out. However, he added that there is now a waiting list just in case the university decides to add an extra 1,086 club seats.

It costs $1,000 just to reserve the seat, then another $1,250 per year to buy the seat. Some of that money, however, will be considered tax deductible because it will be considered as a contribution.

In the end, Phillips said there will be a net gain of 2,000 seats in the stadium.

Bowden and his staff face completely different problems this week in preparing for Duke than what they did in preparing for Miami.

A) They have to make sure the team isn't overconfident going against a Duke team that is downright awful. In Clemson's last seven games in Durham, they've all been decided by 10 points or less.

B) There will be virtually nobody in the stands and playing in front of hardly any fans presents a difficult challenge to keeping the players pumped up during the game. Sometimes the down atmosphere can bring a team down.

"I hate going up there," said defensive coordinator John Lovett. "It was like practice. … I think we had as many fans as they did. That atmosphere presents a different problem."

Bowden says even with the way the game will be Saturday, the players still should be ready.

"You only play 11 times a year and you ought to be able to get your team up 11 times a year," he said. Top Stories