on October 1, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Clemson has to get better in a hurry

CLEMSON — It might not be time to panic, but Clemson coach Tommy Bowden definitely has reasons to be concerned.

On Saturday, his Clemson Tigers self-destructed in a 13-3 loss to Georgia Tech. The Tigers (4-1, 2-1 ACC) had a punt blocked, fumbled a punt, missed four field goals, dropped several passes, missed open receivers, allowed six sacks and gave up 145 yards to a running back that wasn’t even 100 percent healthy.

Now, Bowden has less than five days to figure out what exactly happened against the Yellow Jackets and get his team put back together before No. 15 Virginia Tech, the same team that drilled Clemson 24-7 last year, visits Death Valley this coming Saturday.

“We didn’t play well,” Bowden said Sunday. “It seems like when we had passes open we missed them. When they were thrown properly we dropped them. We didn’t function at any position well, top to bottom.

“Credit Georgia Tech, they’re a good team. But we malfunctioned in about every area. They had nothing to do with dropped balls.”

Bowden’s big task this week is keeping his team up after such a disappointing performance. After last year’s loss to the Hokies (4-1, 1-0) Clemson faltered with upset losses to Maryland and South Carolina to end the regular season, and then a lackluster effort in the Music City Bowl against Kentucky.

“We’ve got to do a good job of correcting mistakes and keep trying to get better,” Bowden said. “I also have to keep in perspective it’s just one loss, a conference loss, but not a division loss. There are still seven games left. There’s still a lot out there. It’s a fine line you walk. I’m not happy with the way we played, but there are a lot of teams that would like to be 4-1.”

Punt problems. Bowden said the Yellow Jackets block on punter Jimmy Maners punt in the first quarter was a due to a breakdown in protection. It was the second punt blocked this season. Florida State blocked a punt in the season-opener.

Running woes. After being held to 34 yards on 32 carries, Bowden said he isn’t concerned about the running game. He believes if the passing game is executed the way it is supposed to be then that will loosen up defenses.

James Davis and C.J. Spiller combined for just 62 yards against the Yellow Jackets Saturday.

Falling in the polls. Clemson dropped nine spots to No. 22 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Polls. Clemson was No. 13 in both polls before Saturday’s loss to Georgia Tech.

Schedule issues. Bowden thinks Mark Buchholz’s practice schedule might be part of the reason why the junior kicker has missed six field goals in the last two games. He missed kicks of 47, 30, 50 and 48 against the Yellow Jackets.

Bowden said he will have to sit down with men’s soccer coach Trevor Adair and figure out what they can do to help him get more time in practicing field goals.

“Do we need to keep him around practice longer? Maybe throw him in during period twelve and have him kick, like we would a game,” Bowden said. “Then thirty minutes later maybe put him back in again, like we would a game. Trevor and I will work it out.”

Injuries. Defensive back Haydrian Lewis, who was injured in the first quarter at Georgia Tech, suffered a torn ACL and will be lost for the season. He was the only major injury to come out of the game.

Lewis is not eligible for a medical hardship because his injury came in the fifth game of the year. He is the third Clemson player to be lost for the season. Reserve funning back Ray Ray McElrathbey was lost during the preseason with a torn ACL and reserve H-back Chad Diehl broke his leg against Furman.