Monday Practice Notes

CLEMSON – Statistically speaking, Louisiana Tech is one of the worst defenses in the entire country. But in an odd way, and not unlike his old nemesis, Lou Holtz, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said that actually worries him.

He said he's not chomping at the bit even though the Bulldogs (1-2) are ranked 118th out of 119 Division I school in pass defense, 103rd in rush defense, 111th in total defense and 114th in scoring defense.

"About the time you do that, there will be a Colorado-Montana State or Georgia-Colorado," Bowden said. "That's the biggest thing you worry about, that your team reads that. ‘Golly, we don't have to block as hard or sustain a block as long or rush the passer as hard.' … You're hoping they don't turn the corner against you."

Bowden believes that La. Tech will be better prepared for this game than it was against in previous games much in the same way the No. 18 Tigers team will be.

"I'm sure they're searching for answers just like a lot of teams this early in the year," he said. "There's a lot of football left and the biggest thing is you assume they're going to make improvements from week to week just like we are."

Hamlin status
Safety Michael Hamlin, who broke a foot against Boston College, was initially expected to miss as many as eight or nine games. Now, it appears he could be back in a couple of weeks.

Hamlin did some running in practice Monday night, but didn't participate in any drills. Bowden said next week is his goal to have one of the leaders on defense back.

"We're hoping he'll be ready for Wake Forest," Bowden said. "He's definitely out this week. But the next one would be my hope, and how close he is, I don't know."

Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning wants Hamlin to return as well, but just not too soon.

"I hope (he comes back), but I also hope that it's in a timely manner," Koenning said. "As important as Wake Forest is, we've still got Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and etcetera. It's one of those things where you don't want him to go out there and reinjure it."

Wolfpack fan
Bowden said he was cheering for N.C. State against Boston College Saturday night and that he was happy to see the Wolfpack pull out a miracle win in the final seconds.

That puts the Eagles and Tigers in a tie, though B.C. still has the tiebreaker.

"You have to be (a N.C. State fan) here," Bowden said. "For two straight weeks, (Boston College) won those games. You're going to win a couple of those, but, gosh, you can't win them all like that."

Kicking woes
Nationally, it seems there have been a lot of poor displays of kicking field goals and extra points. No team seems to be immune from what plagued Clemson earlier in the season.

Bowden believes he may know what the problem is. He thinks it's the same thing that had his kicker Jad Dean out of sorts.

"To be honest with you, there's been a lot of blocked extra points," he said. "I wonder if they all met with that (kicking) guy up there in Ohio. I wonder if it's that same guy."

Quick hits
Tailback Reggie Merriweather is officially listed as questionable, but that is expected to be upgraded as the week progresses. Bowden sees him playing this weekend. … There are no other injuries. …

Bowden cited the play of interior defensive lineman Dorell Scott against North Carolina as being stellar. "Dorrell Scott just played exceptional in that game," Bowden said. "He played like a big-time defensive performer." …

Bowden and Koenning were each shocked that neither Florida State nor North Carolina utilized the screen pass against the Clemson defense.

"I say all that stuff and we'll get screened to death this week," Koenning said. "I just think we're preparing for what teams do."

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