Critical Three Days Ahead for Tigers

ORLANDO – Clemson head football coach Tommy Bowden believes how the Tigers prepare over their next six hours of practice will go a long way in determining the outcome of their game against Colorado in the Champs Sports Bowl Tuesday.

"These will be a critical three days as far as mental assignments," he said Friday following his team's practice. "They are pretty much going to play the way they practice the next three days."

A lot of injury news for the Clemson football team came out of Friday's practice as well.

The left knee of running back James Davis is completely healthy and is showing no signs of taking a helmet to his knee earlier in the week.

Also, the tendonitis in Jad Dean's left knee is better, but Stephen Furr will handle the kickoff duties.

Other than that, everything went according to plan in practice Friday morning.

COX TO START: Colorado interim head coach Mike Hankwitz announced Friday that red-shirt junior James Cox would get the start at quarterback over senior Joel Klatt, who has not been cleared since sustaining a severe concussion against Texas on Dec. 3.

"His symptoms are getting better, but he hasn't been cleared," Hankwitz said. "If he does get cleared, we'll have him available for spot duty. James is our man."

Klatt, who owns 44 school passing records, has spots of dizziness and sustained headaches.

"I'm just continuing to work on all the things they ask me to do and do the things that are going to give me an opportunity to be available," Klatt said. "Until those (symptoms) leave, the doctors won't clear me."

For Cox, it will be the second start of his career. His only other start came in a win against Iowa State last year, which clinched the Northern Division and sent the Buffaloes to the Big 12 title game.

Cox has played in seven games this year and is 13-of-29 passing for 93 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

"It's no different for me than any other game week," Cox said. "I'm just preparing to go out there and win and move the offense and put points on the board. …

"I don't have the best arm of all the quarterbacks and I'm not the smartest guy, but I think I can do everything real well."

Colorado offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said the offense won't change just because Cox is in the game.

"James has been raised along with Joel and James has been his backup for the last three years and played significant time, but it hasn't been significant game conditions," Watson said. "I'm very comfortable with him running the offense. It's a quarterback-friendly offense to begin with. We'll cut him loose and let him run with it. We expect him to be able to run it."

IMPROVING BOWL GAME: With the move of the Champs Sports Bowl to after Christmas, ticket sales have increased to what executive director Tom Mickle had hoped.

Mickle said he expects to have about 40,000 sold tickets, with between 30,000 and 35,000 actual people in the stands. When Clemson played in the bowl in 2002, there were 21,689 in attendance.

Clemson and the new dates are the main reasons for that dramatic increase.

Mickle said the Tigers have sold roughly 10,000 of their allotted 12,500 tickets, which is a new record for tickets sold by a school competing in the game. The actual number will be higher when factoring in tickets bought from Tickemaster.

However, that record isn't expected to last very long as the bowl game is going to undergo major changes which will likely push the attendance to near 50,000.

The bowl payout to each team will increase from the $862,500 this year to $2.150 million next year. Also, the date is going to be pushed back to either Dec. 28, 29 or 30.

And finally, the bowl is changing affiliations and will no longer have a contract with the Big 12, which has very few schools that travel at all, and instead has signed a contract with the Big 10.

The bowl for the next for years will pit either the fourth or fifth choice from the Big 10 against the fourth choice from the ACC. Had it happened this year, the game would have been between Clemson and Michigan, which Mickle believes would have come close to selling out the game.

The bowl tried to work out a deal with the SEC instead, but pecking order was too low. The bowl would have gotten the sixth or seventh SEC team.

The bowl is also going to undergo a stadium renovation beginning in January of 2007.

TERRY BOWDEN SHOWS: Terry Bowden, the former Auburn head coach and ABC studio analyst and who is brother to Tommy Bowden, showed up at practice briefly to see the Tigers.

And in typical Terry fashion, he has a few opinions about Clemson and Colorado.

"With the coaching change and maybe the quarterback not playing – Joel Klatt is the soul of their team – based on that situation, you'd have to think Clemson would be in a better situation right now," he said. "Clemson probably doesn't score as many points as they should the way they play offense. There's too many field goals. They need to do better, which has forced them into a lot of close games. …

"Clemson is a team to me that probably could have won two more games very easily this year and is a pretty good dang football team." Top Stories