Bowden: O-Line, CB Positions Up for Grabs

CLEMSON – There are now two good fights for a starting spot on the offensive line, Clemson head football coach Tommy Bowden said in a press conference Sunday afternoon.

He also said there is a really good battle happening on the defensive side, too.

All spring and summer, the right guard spot on the offensive line has been a toss up between redshirt senior Brandon Pilgrim and redshirt sophomore Thomas Austin. Now, however, the battle for the job directly to their right is now a hot contest.

It turns out that redshirt senior Christian Capote and redshirt sophomore Cory Lambert are in a good race to see who earns the starting job at right tackle, Bowden said.

"The fight between Austin and Brandon Pilgrim is pretty good," he said. "Cory Lambert has really kind of picked up his intensity. That was kind of a concern. After watching the tape (Saturday) afternoon, he's doing a lot better job of that and I think he's going to be able to pressure Christian Capote a little bit.

"Christian has got a lot more experience right now and has got a little more strength, but Cory has just got a little more athleticism. He just doesn't have the experience. And Chris Hairston continues to make improvement as a tackle. Those are some guys that have played really, really solid in there."

But Bowden was quick to add that all is not perfect.

"Fundamentally we're still a long ways off," he said. "But if we could just continue to improve on fundamentals, I do think we have a chance to be pretty good on the offensive line."

On the defensive side, Bowden said the two cornerback spots are hotly contested, though redshirt sophomore Chris Chancellor has good separation over junior Haydrian Lewis.

However, the side is neck-and-neck between sophomore Crezdon Butler and redshirt freshman Byron Maxwell, though Butler has a slight advantage. Of course it hasn't helped Maxwell's case sitting out with a concussion right now.

"We've got really good competition there and I think it's made Crezdon a better player," Bowden said. "He's had a really good camp the first eight days, but as you can remember, we came out of the spring with a pretty even battle.

"Right now with Crezdon and Byron, we feel real good with the way they're working and their ability. We feel good about having some youth and talent at that position."

With Chancellor, he just continues to impress the coaching staff even though he's not as physically gifted as the others at his position.

He's listed as 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, but it's more like 5-7, 155 pounds.

"Christian Chancellor, you look at him physically and he's just not very big, but he plays with a lot of heart and he's a really tough guy," Bowden said. "He plays with good technique and fundamentals. He's made that a hard position to take away from him."

HE SAID IT: Bowden was asked about highly recruited and high school Parade All-American kicker Richard Jackson not being able to beat out a walk-on punter and a soccer player for the punting and placekicking duties and whether or not that was a concern.

Bowden said no because punter Jimmy Maners and kicker Mark Buchholz are quality players. He then asked sports information director Tim Bourret a question about Buchholz:

"I think he's a goalie. Is he a goalie, Tim?" Bowden said. Bourret replied that Buchholz was a midfielder, upon which Bowden responded, "Midfielder? Well … what's the difference?"

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