Valuable Experience Ahead

CLEMSON - His adrenaline was pumping and everything around him was flying by so fast, Michael Palmer had no idea what he was doing.

In fact, he didn't.

The Clemson tight end admitted Monday he remembers very little from his first game as a college football player.

The only thing he could recall from the Sept. 2, 2006 Florida Atlantic game was former running back Reggie Merriweather's 1-yard run with 7:26 to play in the second quarter. Palmer, who stands 6-foot-5, 250-pounds, recalls that play because Merriweather (5-foot-8) only made it to Palmer's chest when the two tried to celebrate the score with a chest-pump.

"That's the only play I remember," the junior said. "I remember after the game I was sitting in my locker and was like ‘what just happened?'

"It's different to say the least, but now everything is so much slower. It's a big difference."

Palmer talked about his first game with the media Monday as a way to get fans and some of the offensive line's critics to understand what has been running through the heads of impressionable freshmen like left guard David Smith, right guard Mason Cloy, reserve left tackle Landon Walker and reserve right tackle Antoine McClain.

"I remember my first game against Florida Atlantic at home, my head was spinning in that game," Palmer said. "I can't imagine what some of those guys were going through against Alabama in the Georgia Dome.

"It's a learning process. It's not so much what you do in August and September, it's a long season. We just have to keep working hard and continue to improve. As we get further down the line into the bowl games or things like that, I guess we will get another opportunity to show people that we are not done."

Guys like Smith and Cloy showed there is something to what Palmer's was talking about in the Tigers 45-17 win against The Citadel last Saturday. The offensive line came out and asserted itself early as Clemson (1-1) rushed for 134 of their 252 yards in the first quarter.

Running back James Davis had 93 yards and a touchdown before the first quarter came to a close. He finished with 107 yards, and only touched the ball three times after that. C.J. Spiller rushed for 75 yards and scored three touchdowns on just six carries.

"Coach (Rob) Spence wanted to reestablish ‘Thunder and Lightning' on Saturday. I think on our first drive, we did not pass the ball and we went right down the field," Palmer said. "We wanted to reestablish that and reestablish that we can run the ball, and I think we did that."

But with two freshmen starting at guard and two more being rotated at the tackle spots, how much did Clemson find out about its offensive line against a Football Championship Sub-division team in The Citadel?

"To get a start like that was pretty good for them," center Thomas Austin said. "They played pretty physical."

Austin said he could definitely see an improvement in things like communication from the younger players.

"I think when you are a young player, you are thinking so hard on what you have to do on a play that you don't always pass calls down or you don't make adjustments as needed," he said. "I think they are doing a much better job of that and that's the importance of going in there and getting quality experience. I think they will improve in the next couple of weeks."

They should have a good chance too. The Tigers first host an N.C. State team that's giving up 143 yards a game on the ground and then they host a second FCS team in S.C. State on Sept. 20.

"They will definitely help the offensive line," Palmer said. "The more plays you play and the more games you play in, the game definitely slows down mentally for you.

"As (my freshman) season went on, it started to slow down and I began to see things a lot better. That's what we are trying to do with our young offensive line.

"Experience is the best way for you to get better. The more games they play, the better they are going to get." Top Stories