"Do or Die" for Ray Ray

CLEMSON – With Saturday being the first scrimmage of the 2006 season, it will be the initial chance for the entire offense to show what it can do. Defensively, however, most of the focus will be on the backups, to see who rises and who falls.

While there are more scrimmages to come, the first one sets the tone for the rest of the fall camp. Players hoping to get playing time during the season have to perform well Saturday.

And if they don't, they may never get to see the field in a real game.

One of those players is redshirt freshman Ray Ray McElrathbey, who has had a tough time moving up on the depth chart at cornerback. He is battling it out with several other individuals hoping to be the second-string cornerback and at the very least, the third string.

The weight of the situation hasn't been lost on McElrathbey and the moves defensive coordinator Vic Koenning will make because of Saturday.

"It's extremely important for me, particularly because how it goes (Saturday), he'll develop a depth chart and going into the next practice, that's the depth chart we'll go by," McElrathbey said. "If you look good and you play good in the scrimmage, you're going to move up the depth chart for the following week, which leads to more playing time and more reps."

While there won't be 80,000 fans in attendance, this is as real as it gets for McElrathbey.

"Actually, it is (a real game)," he said. "Basically, it's do or die for me right about now. You either show up or you don't. If I have a bad showing (Saturday), there's a good chance that will take me all the way into the season and I'll have to prove myself. If I have a good showing (Saturday), I have more leeway going into next scrimmage."

It's been a tough 12 months for McElthrathbey. He came to Clemson from Mays High in Georgia after turning down Auburn, Arkansas, Florida, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech.

Immediately, there were high expectations from fans and the coaches.

He spent his entire redshirt year running with the offensive scout team, never really getting a chance to develop his cover duties.

When spring rolled around, he didn't develop quite as quickly as Koenning had hoped. Now, as the first scrimmage approaches, he has to show what he's learned.

"I've struggled some," McElrathbey said. "I'm still an offensive-minded player, mostly because so many years thinking offense, offense, catch the ball, look for the rock. At corner, it's not about you. The quarterback's not throwing you the ball and I have a problem thinking he is.

"When we're in coverage, I'll look back and I believe he is throwing me the ball, because that's natural to me. I look at the quarterback and not the receiver and that's not my job. I struggle some, but I believe I'm coming around. I'm getting better and I'm just going to keep working. I work after practice and do a lot of extra stuff trying to get better. I struggle some, but I'm going to keep working."

Muse not with team
As reported by CUTigers.com on Thursday, an immanent suspension loomed over redshirt freshman tight end Paul Muse. On Friday, it happened.

Muse was held out of practice Friday and won't be with the team until further notice, Tigers coach Tommy Bowden said. Bowden cited "family" reasons as to why he wasn't with the team and that he had to take care of some things, but Bowden never denied that Muse was indeed suspended.

Muse, along with a handful of other players, was ordered to complete a prescribed amount of community service for being involved with the shooting of former player Cory Groover in May of last year.

Every player except Muse completed the community service. Muse only had 20 hours to do, but has yet to do them. Upon the completion, he will be reinstated to the team.

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