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Clemson turns attention to FAU

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Clemson turns attention to FAU

Clemson turns focus to Florida Atlantic
Tigers hold final scrimmage before preparing for first game

Published: Wednesday, August 23, 2006 - 6:00 am

By Ed McGranahan
[email protected]

CLEMSON – The air was thick enough to chew as the Clemson football team left the field midday Tuesday.

When they return to practice Thursday afternoon, the Tigers will be nine days from sinking their teeth into something more tangible than the dream that's driven most of them since the bowl game in January.

Heat sacked at least one player each day this week, and the ice packs on joints and bruises seemed more prevalent after the final three practices, but Clemson turned the corner relatively intact – save the loss of linebacker Tramaine Billie to an ankle fracture.

Gaines Adams, who considered leaving Clemson early for the NFL, clutched an ice pack nursing the ring finger on his left hand and wore a look that said, "I came back for this?"

"Everybody's tired, but everybody's still working hard," Adams said. "We're not doing everything we're supposed to do, but we didn't play today. "Everybody's going to come back Thursday excited to get ready for Florida Atlantic."

Classes begin today, sort of a fire to the frying pan break.

Coaches will put a point on their plan today for Florida Atlantic then bring the team back Thursday with a real opponent in its sights.

Not that they haven't already.

With 17 returning starters and 18 scholarship seniors, a good bit of work was done in the spring in hope of avoiding the staggering starts that have become characteristic of Bowden's teams the past few seasons.

Another skilled freshman class – potentially contributing six to eight players for immediate impact – has further buoyed their optimism.

"From the way we've been working, I think we have a chance to be very, very good," said senior receiver Chansi Stuckey. "If we can stay away from injuries and stay disciplined, I think we have a chance to make some noise."

It would help, of course, if sophomore Antonio Clay can step in for Billie, and the seasoned offensive line plays to its potential and quarterback Will Proctor gets the ball into the right hands at the right times and Adams plays like a top five NFL prospect and Stuckey takes his game to another level after leading the ACC in receptions last season.

"With the anticipation from the fans and media that we're going to be really good, everybody knew what we had to do," Stuckey said.

Coaches put them through one final scrimmage Tuesday, nearly an hour of goal line and overtime situations before turning them loose.

Tommy Bowden seemed genuinely pleased, both with the practice and the team's progress, 11 days from the opener.

"I feel very comfortable with the plan of attack," Bowden said. "There's always some anxiety going into the first game.

"It's too early for that for me, but that's only natural."
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Clemson turns attention to FAU

Pray for 95+ degree heat – our MEN can handle it
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