Friday Spring Practice Notebook

CLEMSON – Much like every fan throughout Clemson Nation, Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden wanted to have a better understanding of just how good freshman quarterback Willy Korn is. So Thursday night, Korn guided the second team in a full-blown scrimmage.

"I did not want to leave for spring break not knowing whether Korn could operate or manage a team in a scrimmage situation," Bowden said. "So today, we just got Cullen and Korn the reps."

Bowden was quick to point out that just because Korn took all the snaps with the second team in the scrimmage doesn't mean that he's now number two on the depth chart.

He's still going to be running with the third team with Michael Wade when spring break is over. Tribble Reese is still second on the depth chart for the time being.

"The other guys haven't done anything wrong," Bowden said. "We've seen the other guys. We know they can (run a team in a scrimmage), we didn't know that he could. Now we do, but we didn't."

By the end of Korn's 20-25 plays, Bowden had all his concerns on Korn's ability washed away.

"I think Korn shows that he belongs at this level at this point in time in his career," he said. "He can go out there and manage the show. It's not so much that Wade and Reese can't, it's just that we needed to find out before spring break to see if he needed to get additional work at a rapid pace."

Korn said he did some good things and bad things and rated his overall performance as a C-plus.

"I'm still far, far away from where I want to be right now," he said. "I fumbled a snap and made a wrong check on a run play. It's the little things you do wrong that lose ballgames. I've just got to work out the kinks and try to get better."

Even with the few mistakes, Korn said he can tell a huge difference from when he first stepped foot on the Clemson campus in January to now.

"I've got a whole lot better," he said. "My arm has already gotten stronger and I've got a good grasp of what we're trying to do on offense with some of the base plays. I've definitely improved since the first practice."

Korn also said that he's learned one very valuable lesson during his time as a Tiger.

"Don't be afraid to stay up and study a couple more hours of the playbook," he said. "As many hours as you can put in studying, it's going to help you out the next day. It's my favorite novel right now. It's sitting on my nightstand."

Linebackers update
Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said he's been relatively pleased with the progression of his young linebackers and that despite issues surrounding veterans Tremaine Billie and Nick Watkins.

"We've got some improvement to do with fundamentals that we're trying to correct from last year that gave us some problems," Koenning said. "Nick hasn't been practicing because he's got academic issues he's trying to handle and Billie practices (hard) about once a week. That's OK because the other guys are stepping up and doing OK. …

"All it's really going to do is help us out in the long run, which is what spring practice is kind of all about."

Koenning said Billie's issue is he has a severe case of senioritis.

"Tramaine will hopefully realize that he's got one more opportunity to showcase his skills," Koenning said. "He needs to work everyday at getting better and whenever he realizes that and start committing himself to the weight room, to nutrition, to his football, then I expect he'll get to where everybody expects him to be."

In the meantime, Kevin Alexander and Jeremy Campbell and a few others are making their mark.

However, there still remain major questions. Will Billie and Watkins get back on the right path and will middle linebacker Antonio Clay return after battling his depression at home this semester?

"If everybody handles their business, it would not surprise me if you go into the Florida State game with Billie and Watkins and Clay as your starting three linebackers," Koenning said. "But it could also equally be Campbell and Alexander and (Josh) Miller or a combination of any of those guys."

Quick hits
Bowden cited the following players for having the best four days of practice heading into spring break: defensive ends Phillip Merling and Kwam Williams, safety DeAndre McDaniel, offensive guard Chris McDuffie, offensive tackle Barry Richardson, center Barry Humphries and tight end Durrell Barry. Top Stories