Game Capsule

No. 18 Clemson opens the 2006 season Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium against Florida Atlantic. It's the first meeting ever between the two schools.

GAME: Florida Atlantic (0-0) at No. 18 Clemson (0-0) 3:30 PM

LOCATION: Memorial Stadium (81,474)



SPREAD: Clemson by 33.5

COACHES: Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden is 52-33 (70-37 overall) in his eighth season with the Tigers. Florida Atlantic's Howard Schellenberger is 28-30 (128-107-3 overall) in his five years with the Owls.

SERIES: First meeting.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC KEY PLAYER: RB Charles Pierre. With a redshirt freshman quarterback taking control of the offense, Pierre must be effective early to give Florida Atlantic any hope of keeping the game respectable.

CLEMSON KEY PLAYER: QB Will Proctor. By most accounts the Tigers will pound the ball in the running game Saturday, but the play of Proctor will likely be scrutinized more than any other player on offense. Can he make all the throws? How big of a benefit will his mobility actually be for this offense? These are just some of the questions that will begin to be answered Saturday.

INJURIES: Clemson- LB Tramaine Billie (ankle) out, OL JaMarcus Grant (foot) out, CB C.J. Gaddis (suspended) out. Florida Atlantic- WR Casey McGahee (knee), RB DiIvory Edgecomb, (ineligible), TE Mike Wilds (knee), RT Antes Perkins (knee).

CRAZY STAT OF THE WEEK: Clemson will play 19 freshmen in Saturday's game, including eight true freshmen and 11 redshirts.

FORECAST: Isolated thunderstorms are possible. Otherwise temperatures are expected to reach 85 degrees under party cloudy skies with winds out of the south at 6 mph.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You could. We'll play all three of those guys. I'll probably start out by playing them all equally and we'll see who has the hot hand. You could possibly James and Reggie and Reggie and C.J. It won't be very much. We didn't recruit those guys to be lead blockers and that's what one of them has to be when you hand the other one the ball." - Tommy Bowden when asked if C.J. Spiller and James Davis will be used on the field at the same time against Florida Atlantic.

* Thursday Quick Notes
* Antonio Clay's Sister Killed in Accident
* Quick Hits with James Davis
* Schellenberger Quotes on Clemson
* Quick Hits with Chansi Stuckey
* Bowden Press Conference Notes
* Tuesday News & Notes
* What We are Hearing ...
* Spence Confident in Harper, Reese
* Tigers Have Options with Maners, Chason
* Defensive Starter Suspended for Opener
* CUTigersTV: Game Week is Here
* Game Notes
* Clemson Depth Chart
* CUTigersTV: Tigers Turn Focus to First Game
* Previewing Florida Atlantic
* Previewing Florida Atlantic's Offense
* Previewing Florida Atlantic's Defense

WHAT TO WATCH: When Clemson has the Ball- With nearly every key player returning on the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers are poised for a breakout season. Senior quarterback Will Proctor has a good arm and excellent mobility. Former ACC Rookie of the Year running back James Davis returns as does first team All-ACC performer Chansi Stuckey. In addition, the Tigers will also have the luxury of adding one of the top freshmen running backs in all of college football in C.J. Spiller. In short, the Owls can pick their poison: either stack the line and the Tigers can exploit the Florida Atlantic secondary or play the pass and let Davis and Spiller beat them to depth behind the best offensive line to play at Clemson under Tommy Bowden. Either way, this match up looks more like a mismatch than anything else. Also, consider the fact that Florida Atlantic managed just six sacks all of last season. S Kris Bartels is the top returning defender for Florida Atlantic (82 total tackles last season).

When Florida Atlantic has the ball- The Owls are starting a redshirt freshman at quarterback- Rusty Smith. Smith has good size but no starting experience at the Division I-A level. Making matters worse is the fact that Florida Atlantic was one of the worst teams in the nation in 2005 in total offense, averaging just over 292 yards and 13 points a game. Sophomore RB Charles Pierre (5-9, 195) is the top ground gainer and can present problems. However if Clemson is able to get consistent pressure with its front seven, Saturday will be nothing short of a long afternoon for the Owls. The Tigers will be without the services of starting cornerback C.J. Gaddis, who is suspended for missing classes during the spring.

Special teams- The Tigers will utilize senior kicker Jad Dean on field goals and kickoffs. Dean was named a finalist for the Lou Groza Award honoring the country's top placekickers. The real question for the Tigers' special teams comes at punter, where senior Cole Chason will battle with Jimmy Maners for the job. Both could see the field Saturday. The Owls connected on just four of 10 field goals in 2005 and ranked last in the Sun Belt conference in punting and kickoff returns. Keep an eye on the return game as C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford will handle the bulk of the work.

Intangibles- For the first time in six years, the Tigers open the season with an opponent with significantly less talent. No more Georgia. No more Wake Forest. No more Texas A&M. Florida Atlantic may be a program to worry about in the future, but not his year. Tommy Bowden should be afforded the luxury of playing many of his reserves in the second half but can his team keep focus with ACC powers looming the next two weeks?

PREDICTION: Clemson 42 Florida Atlantic 17

DON'T FORGET! The Tiger Pre-game Show will be broadcasting live Saturday morning from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM from the Lawn at Littlejohn. Tune in to 104.9 WCCP FM in upstate South Carolina or on the world wide web on Top Stories