And So It Begins

SUNSET, S.C. - The unofficial kickoff to the 2008 Clemson football season got underway Tuesday with Tommy Bowden's annual golf tournament with the media.

And while there wasn't an extraordinary amount of new information released, Bowden did say senior running back and former wide receiver Rendrick Taylor will redshirt the upcoming season.

Taylor, who played as a wide receiver his first three years with the Tigers, was moved to linebacker during the offseason before settling in at running back during spring practice.

"We've talked about redshirting Rendrick Taylor so our two freshmen are going to have to play," said Bowden, in reference to Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper. "James Davis played as a freshman and C.J. Spiller played as a freshmen so that won't be a change in what we've done."

When asked specifically why Taylor would redshirt, Bowden mentioned two key points - one, it gives him another year to adjust the position switch and two, after losing Davis and likely Spiller next season to the NFL, it gives the Tigers a more experienced back to use with along with Ellington and Harper in 2009.

"It's the transition from the outside [wide receiver] to the inside [running back] and familiarity of the position and then next year having an older back will stagger the position," he said.

Taylor arrived at Clemson in 2005 and immediately saw the field, catching nine passes for 69 yards in 11 games. He was limited however due to a wrist injury.

The following season Taylor broke his elbow against Wake Forest and was limited to just seven games but managed to catch 12 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown. The injury bug bit him again in 2007, this time in the form of a hamstring pull, but he still put his best season together so far, catching 25 passes for 259 yards in nine games.

SCALING BACK FOR 'BAMA? Offensive line coach Brad Scott was a popular man Tuesday, and rightfully so. After all, Clemson is widely viewed as the favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference, but concerns exist on the offensive line, where just one true starter returns from a year ago.

While several additional players return with additional experience, Scott said there will be an adjustment period with so many young linemen seeing the field for the first time against Alabama.

"We are excited about our young guys- David Smith, Mason Cloy, Wilson Norris and Landon Walker," he said. "And those guys all got better going against our defensive line during spring practice but there is a learning curve when the lights go on in that Dome against Alabama and we know that."

Generally speaking, the Tigers carry as many as 12-14 different protection schemes from one game to the next. Scott said that number could be cut in half for the season opener, especially given the complexity of Alabama's defensive scheme under Nick Saban.

"Alabama will do a lot of different things to try and confuse our guys, sometimes just seconds before the actual snap," he said. "So you've got a guy in there who knows his assignment but then we motion a tight end over there right beside him before the snap. Then the end right in front of him shifts. It can create a lot of confusion so that is something we have to take into account."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Every head coach is excited this time of year because you've got freshmen coming in. Guys are coming back and you are looking to see how guys are going enhance their performance from a year ago. I don't know that you call it more excited but it creates excitement with the players we have coming back." - Tommy Bowden

QUICK HITS: Bowden said he anticipates linebacker Antonio Clay to transfer to another school ... He also said he expects Mark Buchholz to be much more consistent this year now that he's focused on one sport. Buchholz used up his eligibility in soccer last season. ... When asked if he thought he had a top 10 team, Bowden said he didn't believe so at the present moment. ... Bowden estimated that around 70 percent of the game plan had already been mapped out for the season opener against Alabama. "We do that every year regardless of the opponent," he said. ... Finally, Bowden said his biggest concern is the offensive line, followed by the linebackers. Between the two units, essentially just one true starter returns.

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