No. 19 Florida State Looming

CLEMSON - With the bulk of preseason camp now in the rear view mirror and with classes beginning Wednesday, the Clemson football team has now turned its attention to the season opener against 19th-ranked Florida State.

"The whole day (was preparing for Florida State)," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said after Thursday's practice. "We went against each other one-on-one which was not and skeleton wasn't. But I'd say about 85% of the practice was for Florida State, the rest of it was just to get a fast pace that we aren't going to get against scout team."

Because of the season opener being played on a Monday, there is an unusual time period between now and Sunday which Bowden referred to as a "black hole."

"Monday, as I was telling the team, you can see the finish line with game week and all of that, we are going to the stadium" he said. "Monday you can see it, boy it's building. Today, tomorrow and Saturday you really can't see the finish line because you come out here for three hours and it's hot. I told the team tomorrow we have to come out with a little more purpose than what we did today."

REDSHIRT UPDATE: Bowden said he expects approximately eight to 10 true freshmen will play this season. Among one of the new names he mentioned Thursday was fullback Chad Diehl.

"We won't make any final decisions on redshirting because we have nine more practices and because of injuries. I doubt we'll make permanent decisions probably until the open date. I think by the open date we will know the best.

"Chad Diehl will not redshirt. Scotty Cooper won't."

Diehl will play on special teams and also challenge for playing time as an H-back while Cooper is currently playing on all special teams and will challenge for playing time at SAM linebacker behind Tramaine Billie and Jeremy Campbell.

The other leading candidates to play as true freshmen include S DeAndre McDaniel, QB Willy Korn, TE Brian Linthicum, DT Jarvis Jenkins, NG Miguel Chavis and CB Marcus Gilchrist.

POSITION BATTLES: Bowden said he is watching several position battles entering the final stages of preseason camp.

"We still have some battles going on at bandit with Sapp and Alexander and Kwam (Williams) can swing over there," he said. "At corner with Maxwell and Butler. Cortney Vincent and Clay. There's a chance Clay could catch him but Cortney has been very consistent and been one our better leaders. He's catchable but he'll be hard to catch."

Outside linebackers coach Ron West told CUTigers.com Wednesday that Sapp and Alexander are currently bracketed on the first team.

Alexander, who has made tremendous strides since being moved from the MIKE linebacker spot during the first week of August, has been one of the biggest surprises of preseason camp.

"Last year when we had a lot of separation there between Gaines Adams and Ricky Sapp it was natural to go ahead and have Gaines on the first team," West said. "This year that separation isn't there as much so I won't tell them who is starting until five minutes before kickoff against Florida State."

RICHARDSON COMFORTABLE WITH NEW STARTERS: Big left tackle Barry Richardson said Thursday since the start of preseason camp he has seen improvement in an offensive line that has to replace four starters from last year's team.

"It's getting better," he said. "It all starts with the center. If you get a good center you can get everything under control which Barry Humphries is doing. I think now that he really knows the plays and we've got some experience on the left side and over on the right with me we are going to be pretty good.

"At the beginning of camp he wasn't getting the offense as much but now he's really learning and trying and that's the best you can ask for. I think he's ready for Florida State."

Richardson also said he feels like this year's line will be just as athletic as last year's.

"We are just as athletic," he said. "Last year we may have been a little stronger at certain positions but these guys are going to have any let off. We are just as good as we were last year just not as experienced."

PHILLIPS RELEASES STATEMENT: Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips released a statement Thursday on the official school web site that he has not been contacted by the University of Arkansas about becoming the school's athletic director.

Current AD Frank Broyles is set to retire later this year.

"After considerable personal reflection, I wish to end the speculation about the Athletic Director's position at the University of Arkansas," he wrote. "To be very clear, it is important to note that the University of Arkansas has not contacted me. I am however humbled and grateful for the Razorback fans and friends who have called and written."

Phillips had been rumored to be a candidate for the position for several months, even though no official communication had ever been released by Arkansas or Phillips.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've been ready for this game for the longest time. I know the plays, I understand we have to gel as an offensive line but I'm tired of going to practice and hitting the same guys. I'm ready to hit another jersey." -- Barry Richardson on the 2007 season opener against No. 19 Florida State.

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