Clemson Football Notebook

CLEMSON – As the team prepares for its closed scrimmage Saturday morning at Memorial Stadium, Clemson head football coach Tommy Bowden has a list of items he'd like to see get accomplished, and most of that list involves the offensive line.


Bowden said due to the raw talent and vast inexperience on the line, the offense hasn't been able to get quality work on all aspects of its offense, particularly in the passing game.

"We'd like to continue to work on some downfield throws, but they take a little more time to develop," he said. "We've just got to get better. I'm not going to ask the defense to not do something to permit us to do that. We haven't been able to get as many downfield throws as we'd like because of pressure. … That was one of my concerns (entering the spring)."

While guard play has been a concern due to having to start two players that have yet to play a single snap in college football, Bowden is also very interested in what happens at left tackle.

There appears to be a number of candidates fighting for that position.

"We need to find our second best tackle," Bowden said. "Chris Hairston is the first one (at right tackle). … Chris Hairston right now probably has had the best spring of all the linemen."

The candidates are rising redshirt junior Cory Lambert, who is on the first team, Jocquez McKissic, a senior who is on the second team after having played on the defensive line his first three seasons, and rising redshirt freshman Landon Walker, who is backing up Hairston.

"Cory has had his best spring yet," Bowden said. "It's really his first chance to step out from behind Barry Richardson. A lot of times when your turn comes, the light comes on a little bit brighter. That's kind of what's happening with him right now. He's played at his highest level to date, but it's not good enough right now."

Bowden likes what he's seen out of McKissic, but he's nowhere near ready to assume the starting role.

"The same thing with Jock, who hasn't been out there but 10 days at tackle after about three years on defense," he said. "But he's made great progress. He really has."

Bowden also said that Walker is having a solid spring, too. However, the wildcard in all of this is a person that's not even on campus yet.

"We've just got to see if we need to move somebody there after spring and if (incoming freshman) Antoine McClain or somebody can push those guys," he said. "That'd be great if he can. That'd just be gravy if he can come in there and play some tackle as a true freshman kind of like Barry Richardson. We're not counting on it, but we'd sure like to see. He's got some skills and his high school skills indicate he's going to have a chance if he stays healthy and can pick up the offense."

KEYS ON DEFENSE: There are also some intriguing things happening on defense, but not in the same way as with the offensive line. There are five quality players battling for two starting linebacker positions.

"I'd like to see some dust settle at linebacker with it either being Brandon Maye or Stanley Hunter or Josh Miller or Kavell Conner or Jeremy Campbell," Bowden said. "You'd like to see the dust settle on who the best two are."

However, defensive end is an area Bowden does want to see vast improvement. He's hoping some of the younger players like Byron Clear and Kourtnei Brown will have better performances.

Da'Quan Bowers will not scrimmage Saturday due to a funeral he has to attend.

That's too bad, because while Bowden has been quick to praise the young star, defensive line coach Chris Rumph was very quick to point out that Kevin Alexander is still with the first team.

"Kevin's the No. 1 guy," Rumph said. "(Bowers) hasn't done anything. Kevin Alexander, that's the guy."

Bowden also said the big thing for the defense on Saturday is making sure what happened on Wednesday with tailback C.J. Spiller running wild doesn't happen again. Spiller had touchdown runs of 70 and 40 yards.

"On Wednesday, we had some missed tackles you'd like to see corrected," Bowden said. "That's one thing that since (defensive coordinator) Vic Koenning's been here, we haven't given up a lot of big plays."

HARPER'S EVALUATION: Bowden said that getting a true sense of how quarterback Cullen Harper is playing is very difficult because of the inconsistent play of the line.

However, Bowden added that the rising redshirt senior is already displaying aspects of his game that haven't been seen before by the coaches and players.

"He might be a better leader this year," Bowden said. "He looks like he might have a little more confidence based on his being a little more vocal with his teammates. I'm noticing a little more of that."

QUICK HITS: Bowden is giving rising redshirt sophomore Richard Jackson ample opportunities to win either the punting job or kicking job or both but so far he hasn't taken advantage of them. Bowden was disappointed in Jackson's punting performance Wednesday and he discussed the placekicking battle with Buchholz.

"Those guys are pretty close," he said. "If he was just really, really consistent, I wouldn't have any problem (kicking him) at all. But he's got to take the position. It can't be a split decision. It needs to be a TKO." …

Bowden also said that running back Rendrick Taylor needs to show continued improvement on protections and recognitions and refine his running skills. … Of all of the returning starters in the very talented secondary, Bowden said that junior Chris Chancellor is having the best spring. … BR> Top Stories