Tigers Return Practice

CLEMSON – After having six straight weeks of problems on special teams, the Clemson football team spent about extra time in practice working on those areas Tuesday evening, head coach Tommy Bowden said.

Bowden said an extra 15 to 20 minutes were spent on the different phases of special teams in practice because new players are being auditioned.

However, Bowden said that come next week, the team will go back to practicing special teams about 20-25 minutes over the course of two and a half hour practice, or roughly 15-17 percent.

"You can't hardly get more than that in there," he said. "You don't want to kill them. I've just got to get guys to make some plays. I think we can do that in drill work and practice maybe a little more in openfield and downfield tackling as opposed to some of the scheme work we're doing."

Bowden said one thing that will help punt coverage is a better hang-time out of punter Jimmy Maners, who has averaged at least 44 yards per punt over the last five games.

"I'd rather has four less yards and a little more hang time," Bowden said.

Bowden said that had it not been for the disaster on special teams, he believes Clemson would have beaten the Hokies.

"If you take it like a spring game and you put the ball on the 30 and take out the kicking, last year we would have gotten killed because (Virginia Tech) rushed for 300 and we couldn't move the ball across the street," he said. "This year is a little more reversed."

CRITICS: When things started getting ugly Saturday night, a lot of fans in Memorial Stadium showed their displeasure by booing loudly. Bowden, however, didn't hear them.

"I've got the double muffs (headsets)," he said. "A lot of guys have the (one) open (ear). If you've noticed, I've got the double."

However, Bowden did say he understood why fans were so upset.

"Down 21-0, I would hope so," he said. "I recognized my wife (booing) all the way through the press box. My son was down there booing me and he was on the sideline. …

"I'm really disgruntled because of what I just explained. You make out a spring game and put the ball at the 30-yard line with offense versus defense, we're undefeated. I am (disgruntled). You want your fans to want you to do well."

Bowden was then asked if he noticed some of the fans yelling to play true freshman and backup quarterback Willy Korn. He answered without really answering.

"I'm really anxious and excited about seeing him get in," Bowden said. "I really am. He's going to be a heck of a player. He's going to be a real good player. He is a good player."

He was then asked more specifically if he ever thought about putting Korn in against Virginia Tech. Bowden recited Cullen Harper's stats and then responded.

"Nah, because the running game I couldn't blame on (Harper) and the protection I can't blame on him," Bowden said. "He just threw the interception. He's only thrown three all year. He's done too good to have a quick trigger. He's doing pretty good."

DAVIS LAUGHS AT CRITICS: Tailback James Davis said he visited the message boards on Tuesday to see what the fans were saying and unhappy about. It gave him a good chuckle.

"I read the board today just to see what everybody was thinking and I saw where some people said they should have put Willy Korn in there and I was kind of laughing about that," he said. "I think Cullen still gives us the best chance to win the game. I guess a lot of people were thinking that it was late, why not throw in him. But I wasn't thinking like that. I still think Cullen gives us the best chance to win."

One thing that did surprise him, though, were some of the things he heard coming from the stands during the game.

"I saw some things about fire Coach Bowden and all that," Davis said in referring to the message boards. "I even heard someone yell out of the stands, ‘You need to go ahead and put your house up for sell.' I was like, whoa.

"But I just ignore it because I know they don't know what's going on. We practice everyday and just all the stuff we go through. The coaches are doing everything they can to put those guys in the right position to make the plays."

RUNNING GAME ISSUES: Davis said he understood why he and C.J. Spiller didn't get many rushing attempts and that he wasn't upset because the Tigers were so far behind that the only way they could come back was by throwing the ball.

But he did voice his concern about not being able to run through open holes when he and Spiller did get the chance to carry it.

"This game right here, those guys didn't put eight in the box," he said. "It was just a straight six-man front and sometimes seven. …

"I guess I'm a little surprised. But I know what the team's going through. I know we're not having good success running the ball right now. I know we've got four new offensive linemen and that's got to play some kind of role in it. We've just got to keep working at it. We definitely have to run the ball."

Davis said that offensive coordinator Rob Spence entered the meeting with the running backs Tuesday to inform Davis and Spiller than he is devising ways to get them the ball more.

Then Davis added, "He's been saying that the whole year."

Davis said that in order for him to be an effective running back, he has to get multiple carries, not just spot ones.

"I'm a guy of rhythm," he said. "I've got to get the ball back-to-back and I get stronger as the game goes on. If I'm not getting into a rhythm, then it would really be hard for me."

INJURY UPDATES: The Tigers are hurting pretty bad right now. In fact, the media was informed that close to 20 players were held out of practice or wore yellow jerseys, which mean no contact and very little in drill work.

"We're as beat up as at anytime since I've been here," Bowden said. "If we were playing Saturday, we'd be in trouble. We're really, really beat up."

Those injured include: safety Michael Hamlin (shoulder, ankle); safety Chris Clemons (thigh bruise); offensive tackle Christian Capote (hamstring); receiver Jacob Ford (bruised sternum); receiver Rendrick Taylor (hamstring); receiver Nelson Faerber (hip); offensive guard Chris McDuffie (back); offensive guard Brandon Pilgrim (ankle); receiver Terrance Ashe (ankle); offensive guard Thomas Austin (ankle); linebacker Scottie Cooper (shoulder); defensive tackle Rashaad Jackson (shoulder).

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