Tigers Go Through Final Workouts

CLEMSON — The next test for the Clemson Tigers before their season opener against No. 24 Alabama comes Friday.

The ninth-ranked Tigers wrapped up their preparations for Saturday's Chick-fil-A College Kickoff Thursday and must now sit around and wait until 8 o'clock Saturday night before they can actually play again. That means they will also have to deal with distractions that come from friends and families requesting tickets and other non-football related things.

"Teams like this separate from the pack," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said Thursday. "There is a lot of mental playing that you can do from here up until game time. It's the teams that can do that and focus and separate themselves from all the parents and the request for tickets and family that (fare better).

"That's what we will find out. It seems to be good, but we don't know."

Bowden also doesn't know what kind of game to expect in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. The Clemson coach said the outcome of the game will depend on turnovers, penalties and the kicking game.

"Turnovers are a huge factor," he said. "Mistakes in the kicking game. Those are things in the first game that you don't have a feel for. That can throw it out of whack real quickly."

Like N.C. State, which played at SEC member South Carolina Thursday, Clemson has the added pressure of carrying the conference on its shoulder. With ACC football getting such a black eye lately with the media calling it the weakest BCS Conference, thanks to its 1-9 record in BCS Bowl games and its 2-6 showing in last year's bowl season, it's almost imperative Clemson beat the Crimson Tide so the conference can gain some respect back.

"For the conference to gain credibility you have to beat teams from other conferences and get in BCS bowl games and win them. We haven't done that. Yes, we do kind of carry the mantel for the ACC a little bit," Bowden said.

But in the end, all Bowden really cares about, "I'm really just kind of hoping for a win. That's all I'm hoping for."

INJURY UPDATE: Freshman running back Jamie Harper, who was suffering from a sprained ankle, has been upgraded from questionable to probable for Saturday's game. Cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (shoulder) is out as is defensive tackle Rashaad Jackson (knee).

PUNTER UPDATE; Bowden said he will name either Dawson Zimmerman or Jimmy Maners the starting punter after he sees them kick during a walk through Friday night and after pregame warm-ups on Saturday.

WALK-ONS: Walk-ons Nelson Faerber (receiver) and Maners were awarded scholarships.

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