on November 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Clemson hoping to turn things around in Boston

BOSTON — Interim Clemson coach Dabo Swinney looks at the team he inherited from Tommy Bowden and sees a car in need of a gentle tuneup, not a total overhaul.

“We’re not a broken team. We’re not an old jalopy, hoopty car that we put a new paint job on and some new rims,” Swinney said this week as he prepared to visit Boston College. “We got everything on this car. We got a six-disc CD changer, we’ve got a moon roof, cruise control, nice paint job. When you see this car, you’re going to say, ‘Man, I’d like to drive that one.’

“Somewhere along the way we caught a flat tire. We’ve gotten low on gas. I’m trying to fill this tank back up, put some air back in the tires because this is a good football team.”

It’s time for Swinney to step on the pedal, because the Tigers (3-4, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) have lost three in a row, including a 21-17 defeat to Georgia Tech five days after Bowden stepped down for the good of the program. Clemson hasn’t beaten Boston College (5-2, 2-2) since 1958, including all three matchups since BC joined the ACC in 2005.

“We need a win and we haven’t beaten this team in a long time,” said Clemson receiver Aaron Kelly, who dropped a potential game-winning pass against BC in the closing minute last year. “So it would just feel good to get a win here and it would be really good to turn things around.”

Swinney said he would play both Cullen Harper and Willy Korn at quarterback. Harper injured his right shoulder against BC last November, and had surgery on his left shoulder Oct. 19.

“Now, I feel really good,” Harper said.

Although the schools have been in the same conference for only three seasons, they’ve played enough tight games to create a rivalry. Two of the three games went into overtime — one was double OT — and BC won last year on a 43-yard touchdown pass with 1:46 left.

The consensus preseason pick to win the ACC, Clemson still has the talent to snap the losing streak.

“On paper, these guys are a great team,” BC tight end Ryan Purvis said. “With all the distractions, it’s kind of been pushed aside.”

Matt Ryan, who the architect of BC’s last three wins over Clemson, has left for the NFL, and the Eagles are now in the hands of Chris Crane. The fifth-year senior was the ACC offensive player of the week after throwing for 470 yards against North Carolina State on Oct. 4, then BC moved into the Top 25 with a victory over Virginia Tech.

But the Eagles lost 45-24 to North Carolina last weekend and dropped back out of the rankings.

“What happened at North Carolina can’t happen again,” defensive lineman Ron Brace said.

Clemson lost to Georgia Tech in its first game under Swinney, then got a week off. “They’re coming off a tough loss, and so are we,” Crane said.

Although the loss to the Tar Heels dropped BC to .500 in the conference, the Eagles have four games left against division rivals Clemson, Florida State, Wake Forest and Maryland.

“We don’t have a playoff in college football,” Crane said. “But this is as close as we get for us. We’ll see what everyone’s made of.”