Thursday, August 07, 2003

Training camp Day 2: Leake's the man

Rain was once again a factor on Wednesday, but coach Tommy Bowden said he was pleased with what he saw on the field:

"We had a good practice. Charlie Whitehurst threw the ball very well and it looks like we will have some depth at running back. Kyle Browning, Reggie Merriweather and Duane Coleman all ran the ball well."

Day 2 of practice and we're already playing great!

CONFIDENCE MAN: John Leake, Clemson's hard-hitting senior linebacker, thinks the Tigers could win "10, 11, 12 games" this season. I love his confidence, but I don't see it happening. My most optimistic assessment has Clemson winning nine games, and that's with a whole lot of luck.

In more Leake news, ESPN reports that he just learned how to tackle properly this summer. (What the heck has he been doing for the past three years?) ESPN also reports that Leake has bulked up to 240 pounds.

BEN'S BACK: Tight end Ben Hall, who has shown flashes of greatness despite being underutilized, says he's glad he decided to stay on the team and not transfer to another school. We're glad, too, Ben.

MYSTERIOUS ILLNESS: Defensive end Todd McClinton is still battling health problems. He's had several seizures in the past few months, but doctors can't determine the cause.

NEW GAME-DAY ROUTINES: Clemson is redoing its post-game policies to allow fans onto the field to greet players. Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips has instituted a "Gathering at the Paw." It sounds pretty nice:

Under the new plan, fans will have immediate access to the field after the game, but event staff personnel will direct them toward the east end zone of the stadium near the "hill."

Coaches and players can shake hands while the university band is playing the Clemson fight song, "Tiger Rag." Phillips said that by having fans go toward the stadium's east end, the visiting team can go to the locker rooms at the opposite end without having to go through fans.

Clemson players will stand on the 50-yard line at the orange tiger paw and sing the alma mater with fans. Fans then can get autographs from players and take photographs with them, Phillips said.

Clemson will also be reducing the number of people who will be allowed to sit on "The Hill." It's normally about 4,000 to 5,000. It'll be half that number in the future.

It can get kind of dangerous up there. I was at a Clemson-USC game in the 1980s and happened to get caught up in the crush of fans who had gathered at the top of The Hill right before "the most exciting 25 seconds in college football." As the carpet that the players run down was rolled up, fans rushed to fill in the space. There were so many people packed closely together that I was literally being lifted and carried by the throng. People were yelling and beginning to panic. I think an old lady fainted or something. It got all sorted out after five minutes, but it was definitely scary.

And here's more good news for fans: Pass-outs, which allow you to leave the stadium and return, are back after being yanked for security reasons in the wake of 9/11. Cold beer at halftime: Yee-Haw!

No comments: