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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Clemson first-year defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has said that sack numbers don't necessarily indicate how much pressure a quarterback is under during a game, and he's right.
But fans like the stats, and so do Clemson's defensive ends.
Bandit end Ricky Sapp and end Da'Quan Bowers apparently have a little behind-the-scenes competition going on, with the goal of totaling 10 sacks apiece this season. It's a lofty goal for a team that didn't have anyone surpass two last year, but it's not impossible -- especially considering Steele's desire to get after the quarterbacks and the fact his system will only help the front four flourish.
Only Sapp, who went to the same high school as Bowers, refuses to be bested by his younger teammate. Sapp said the duo is "very interested" in where each other will finish in the final stat category for sacks. Last year, Sapp finished with two while Bowers had one.
"He will not beat me in sacks," Sapp said, shaking his head with a smile. "I will not let him beat me in sacks. It's not going to happen. If he has nine, I'll have 10."
Sapp, who was Clemson's best player in terms of putting pressure on the quarterback for most of 2008, suffered a torn ACL in the 10th game at Virginia and missed the final three games. He said he's about 95 percent healed and is expected to be ready for the 2009 season opener. Sapp had played in 36 straight games before he was hurt.
"Everything happens for a reason," Sapp said. "I'm hoping this year is my big finale. I guess we'll find out."