Senior middle linebacker Anthony Waters went down like he had been shot by a high-powered rifle with 3:55 left in the third quarter after twisting his knee while trying to sack Florida Atlantic's quarterback.
Waters was chasing QB Sean Clayton, when he stopped suddenly and juked the linebacker something fierce. Waters also tried to stop, but his left knee couldn't halt his momentum, and it gave way.
Waters stayed on the ground and flailed his arms wildly in obvious pain. Doctors called for the cart to carry him off the field, but he refused and was helped off the field by a couple of teammates.
Initial prognosis is a sprained knee for Waters, but more will be known Sunday following an MRI.
Redshirt freshman Kavell Conner could be forced to get his first-career start at middle linebacker next week at Boston College.
A few weeks ago, sophomore Antonio Clay was pushed into the starting lineup when senior Sam linebacker Tremaine Billie broke his foot.
However, defensive coordinator Vic Koenning told CUTigers.com that there was a "50-50 chance" that Clay could be moved to middle linebacker, which is where he played all of last season, and redshirt junior Maurice Nelson would start at Sam.
"It's way too far to speculate," Koenning said. "I think it is something that we'll assess if the worst is true with Anthony. We don't want to think the worst, but you've got to plan for the future, too."
Clay also told CUTigers.com that he thinks his move is eminent.
"I think it could happen" he said. "That'd be OK with me."
The only remaining starter is Nick Watkins at Will linebacker.
BOWDEN BLOWS GASKET: With 10:56 left in the second quarter, Clemson receiver Rendrick Taylor fumbled deep in Owls territory. However, there was some question on the replay as to whether his knee had hit the ground before the ball came loose.
Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden tried to ask for a coach's challenge, but rookie field judge Gorham Wood wouldn't allow it because he said the 25-second play clock had already started.
The rules state it doesn't matter if the play clock has started or not, but the new referee was unprepared.
"I wanted to call a time out and he wouldn't give me one," Bowden said. "I could have sworn that is a new rule this year. You'll have to call (ACC head of officials) Tommy Hunt to find out why he didn't give it to me. … I think that's a new rule. Can't you challenge? Thank you."
After meeting with the officials during a stoppage in play, Bowden exploded when he acknowledged he was wrong.
He threw his headset to the ground, which hit Wood near the waist. He also flailed his arms, which made contact with head referee Brad Allen. Bowden had to be pulled back by director of football operations Don Hymel to prevent him from making further contact.
The rant continued for the next three minutes of play.
"I was pretty upset," Bowden said. "I studied hard on that rule. I'm not good at taking tests, but I got that one right."
Because Bowden made contact more than once with the officials, he could be reprimanded by the ACC.
STILL NOT IMPRESSED? Florida Atlantic defensive end Josh Pinnick, who told the Clemson offensive line earlier in the week to "bring it on," still wasn't impressed, even after the massive whipping his team took.
"I don't think we played all that bad," he said. "The score didn't justify the way we played. Physically, I think we matched up. We were in the game for a while, but it just got away from us. … I don't want to say what I think about them being the 18th (ranked) team."
HALL OF FAME: Golfer Jonathon Byrd, football All-American Kyle Young, basketball All-American Shandy Bryan, track All-American Terrance Herrington, All-ACC football player Steve Kenny, women's track coach Wayne Coffman and former Clemson president and football player Dr. Robert Poole were the seven members inducted into this year's Clemson Hall of Fame.
QUICK HITS: As expected, freshman tailback C.J. Spiller carried the ball on the first play of the game due to a recruiting promise. He gained eight yards on the play. … The last time Clemson broke the 50-point barrier came in 2003 in the infamous 63-17 whipping of South Carolina.
Jacoby Ford's 92-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter was the longest punt return in Clemson history. He bested the previous mark of 90 yards set by Shad Bryant in 1938 and Bobby Gage in 1948. … After all the talk about who would be the starting punter, the Tigers didn't punt once Saturday. …
The Tigers played 52 players in the first quarter and 73 for the game. Of those, eight were true freshmen and 11 were redshirt freshmen. … Sophomore safety Michael Hamlin's 74-yard interception was the longest by a Tiger since Rex Varn had a 94-yarder in 1978. … Cornerback Sergio Gilliam's fumble return for a touchdown is the first for a Tiger since J.J. Howard did it against Furman in 2003.
Notebook: Waters to have MRI
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