NCF Nation: James Davis

Clemson looking to unleash 'New Storm'

September, 15, 2010
9/15/10
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Clemson coach Dabo Swinney didn’t hesitate when asked recently if running backs Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper were talented enough to be the program’s next “Thunder and Lightening” duo, following in the footsteps of former players C.J. Spiller and James Davis.

“Absolutely,” Swinney said. “No doubt.”

[+] EnlargeEllington
AP Photo/Richard ShiroAndre Ellington averaged 10.2 yards per carry in the season-opening win over North Texas.
Technically, though, Ellington and Harper refer to themselves as “the New Storm.”

But they still have to prove it, starting Saturday at Auburn.

“They have not really been challenged yet against an opponent that’s hit them for 60 minutes,” Swinney said. “Being able to sustain throughout the game, the physical play that we want, that’s the thing I’m looking for from them. … They’re going to have to prove their salt with durability.”

They’ll get their chance on Saturday, when Clemson will face a rushing defense that has allowed just 80 yards per game in two wins. In the 35-10 season-opening win over North Texas, Clemson averaged a whopping 9.8 yards per rush. On the first offensive play, Ellington took off for a 60-yard touchdown run. It took him 16 seconds into the season to score. Spiller scored 14 seconds into the 2009 season with a kickoff return against Middle Tennessee.

Clemson’s win over the Mean Green marked the first time since the 2007 Maryland game that Clemson had a pair of 100-yard rushers in the same game. That year, Davis had 129 and Spiller had 106 in the win over the Terps. Against North Texas, Ellington had 12 carries for 122 yards and two touchdowns while Harper had nine carries for 101 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Ellington said he and Harper, who both averaged over 10 yards per carry in the season opener, have already earned the title of Clemson’s next great duo, “just by all of the hard work we put in.”

[+] EnlargeHarper
Jim Brown/US PresswireJamie Harper knows his workload will increase as Clemson's schedule gets more difficult.
“We’ve got more composure now, we’re more confident,” he said. “We know a lot more about what we’re doing out there, as opposed to watching another guy perform and then go off of what he’s doing. We’re in the driver’s seat, I guess you could say.”

They’re going to have to be, as both of their snaps will increase along with the competition. They both played sparingly against Presbyterian, with just 14 combined snaps. Swinney said their strength isn’t a question. Ellington is about 192 pounds, and Harper is up to 234 pounds after adding about eight pounds of lean muscle mass this summer.

“We’re asking a lot more out of their role, and to this point, they just have not played the amount of snaps they’re going to have to play,” Swinney said. “That’s the one thing I’m anxious to see -- can they sustain it all the way for four quarters or however long it takes to finish the game.”

Harper and Ellington now have 1,286 combined yards in 209 attempts for their careers, a 6.15 average. Davis and Spiller had 7,428 combined rushing yards in 1359 combined attempts for a 5.47 average.

Harper said he and Ellington can keep it up.

“The proof is in the pudding,” he said. “We just have to go out there and show [Swinney] along with the rest of the world. We’re definitely the next top tandem. C.J. and James Davis, they did a terrific job of setting the stage as far as tandems of running backs, especially at Clemson, and we’re just following those guys and trying to make ourselves be known just as well as they were.”

If they do, it could be the perfect storm for the Tigers’ offense.

Checking in from Clemson

March, 23, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

CLEMSON, S.C. -- A few quick observations before I call it a day:

  • First, Jacoby Ford truly looked like a senior at practice today. He caught a nice touchdown pass, prompting coach Dabo Swinney to challenge some of the younger guys to step up.
  • Mason Cloy is getting comfortable at center, which is good because that allows Thomas Austin, the leader of the line, to stay at guard. True freshman J.K. Jay looked impressive and capable of working his way into the rotation.
  • Swinney said he hopes to name a new defensive tackle coach in the next few days, and it will probably be former Tennessee assistant Dan Brooks. He was on the field today. It seems to be one of those things where the holdup in the announcement is the HR paperwork. "I've got a lot of respect for coach Brooks," Swinney said. "He's a great coach, great background, track record, recruiting and coaching. He's certainly a strong candidate."
  • Very impressed with new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. There are some coaches who immediately command respect for their knowledge of the game, and he gave that impression. Home run hire.
  • James Davis was watching practice and will be at pro day on Tuesday.
  • Both Willy Korn and Kyle Parker are competing hard. Through the first couple of practices Korn had been getting the most reps, but he also had the most experienced. They're trying to distribute the reps a little more evenly.

"A lot of people make the statement, if you have two quarterbacks you don't have one quarterback," Swinney said. "Well, I disagree with that. If you've got two good ones, you've got two good ones. That's the situation I see emerging there. It's going to be interesting. I really believe we've got a couple of good quarterbacks. And they're both the same age. ... Maybe one of them separates, I don't know. It looks like something that's going to play out for a while. That's a good thing for me."

Overall, it seems as if Clemson has the potential to surprise some people by the end of the season. The defense will lead the way in the beginning, but they definitely intend to get the ball to their playmakers this year. That, in itself, is an improvement. This offense definitely has big-play capabilities.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Top o' the mornin' to you, ACC fans. The bloggers are celebrating St. Patrick's Day in style -- green style of course.

Here's a look at one thing that makes every team in the ACC green with envy:

BOSTON COLLEGE -- The fertile recruiting grounds of Clemson, Florida State, Miami and Georgia Tech. New England is known for its "chowda," not its speed.

CLEMSON -- Any team that has won an ACC title since 1991. That would include Virginia Tech (a lot), Virginia and Georgia Tech (but only partly), Wake Forest, Florida State (a lot) and Maryland. Go ahead and throw Boston College in there for good measure.

DUKE -- Everyone else's fan support. Wallace Wade Stadium is lonelier than Florida State's libraries on a Saturday night.

FLORIDA STATE -- Wake Forest's record -- and defense -- in the series over the past three years. The Demon Deacons have won three straight against the Noles, and held them without a touchdown twice in the process.

GEORGIA TECH -- Parking and tailgating at Florida State and Clemson. Georgia Tech's campus isn't exactly conducive to pregame festivities, which is a downer when you're sort of in SEC territory.

MARYLAND -- Legitimate rivalry games. Florida State vs. Miami, Virginia Tech vs. Virginia ... Maryland couldn't find a partner on eHarmony if it tried. Even nonconference opponents like West Virginia are already taken, though the Terps like to flirt with the idea of being the Mountaineers' rival.

MIAMI -- Any ACC teams that don't start the 2009 season with games against Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. Hey, at least the Canes have a bye week on Sept. 12 to prepare for back-to-back Coastal Division opponents.

NORTH CAROLINA -- The traditional "football" schools like Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech and Clemson. If Shaun Draughn played for 'ole Roy, odds are more people on Tobacco Road would know his name.

NC STATE -- Boston College's NCAA-best streak of eight bowl wins, which was snapped last year. Otherwise, they wouldn't have hired coach Tom O'Brien, who last year led the Wolfpack to its first bowl appearance since 2005.

VIRGINIA -- Virginia Tech. The Hokies have won nine of the last 10 games in the Commonwealth Cup, they've won or at least played for the ACC title in four of the past five years, and they recruit much of the same territory as their rival (which isn't Maryland).

VIRGINIA TECH -- Florida State's succession plan. Fans have been hoping for a similar guarantee for their beloved defensive coordinator, Bud Foster. They're also envious of just about every other team's offensive coordinator.

WAKE FOREST -- The admissions standards of a few of their ACC opponents. Granted, Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe doesn't always necessarily want some of the bigger, faster players heading to Miami -- er, other schools -- but his job would probably be a little easier if he had the choice.

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Joe Ganz and Nebraska showed a lot of grit and determination Thursday, storming back from early misfortune to cap the season with triumph.

 
 Marvin Gentry/US Presswire
 Joe Ganz overcame injuries to direct Nebraska's final scoring drive.

Ganz overcame a shaky start to direct Nebraska to a 26-21 victory over Clemson in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl.

The biggest reason was Ganz, who shook off a gimpy knee in the first half to throw two touchdowns and help Nebraska reclaim the lead in the third quarter. Earlier, Ganz's botched option pitch was returned for a Clemson touchdown and his interception late in first half led to another Tigers score.

But Ganz saved his biggest comeback for last after he appeared to be dazed by another hit early in the fourth quarter.

After sitting on the bench for several minutes, Ganz coolly returned to the game and directed Nebraska's final scoring drive, culminated by Alex Henery's fourth field goal.

Nebraska's defenders did the rest, playing like they deserved the Blackshirts that coach Bo Pelini gave them midway through the season to signify their emergence as a unit.

A punishing Nebraska defensive front dominated the game throughout, notching four sacks and harassing Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper from the opening snap. Nose tackle Ndamukong Suh produced two sacks and blocked a field goal and defensive tackle Ty Steinkuhler produced another sack.

The Tigers were presumed to have the advantage in speed and athleticism, but Nebraska limited them to 90 total yards in the second half and shackled Clemson's vaunted running combo of James Davis and C.J. Spiller. The Tigers also converted only 3 of 16 third-down plays, misfiring on nine straight third-down conversions at one point in the second half.

The biggest series came after Clemson had marched to the Nebraska 10-yard line with less than 2 minutes remaining. Nebraska twice gambled on cornerback blitzes by sophomore Eric Hagg, leading to an incompletion and a pivotal 16-yard sack on second down.

Two incompletions later, the Cornhuskers were jubilant and dancing after Pelini had wrapped up his second bowl victory in two tries.

The late defensive stand was clearly the shining moment for the Big 12 so far in the bowl season. It might not change many attitudes about the conference's overall defensive prowess, but was still good enough to lead to the Nebraska triumph.

The Cornhuskers (9-4) finished the season with a four-game winning streak and won six of their final seven games. They should finish the season ranked in the Top 25 and will likely enter the 2009 season as a preseason favorite in the Big 12 North.

After Marlon Lucky and Roy Helu Jr. struggled early, backup I-back Quentin Castille stepped up to provide rushing consistency that helped wrap up the victory. Castille finished with a game-high 125 rushing yards, including a key 58-yard rumble early in the third quarter.

In the process the Cornhuskers continued a tradition of comebacks in bowl games. It was the seventh time Nebraska has overcome a halftime deficit to win a bowl game. The Cornhuskers' 11-point halftime deficit was the largest the team has ever overcome in the school's 45-game bowl history.

What to watch on New Year's Day

December, 31, 2008
12/31/08
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Here are a few things to keep an eye on in the ACC's New Year's Day bowls:

1. The Replacements. Junior Nekos Brown will fill in for defensive end Jason Worilds, redshirt freshman Barquell Rivers replaces linebacker Brett Warren, and Jaymes Brooks, who has played four career snaps, will fill in for starting right guard Nick Marshman, who is academically ineligible.

2. Clemson's secondary vs. Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz. Michael Hamlin and the rest of the Tigers' secondary will be without former assistant coach Vic Koenning for the first time, and how they respond will be important. Ganz is 13th nationally in total offense with 299 yards per game and 14th nationally in passing efficiency, but the Tigers are ninth in the nation in pass efficiency defense by holding opposing quarterbacks to a 100.03 rating.

3. Brian Kelly vs. Frank Beamer. This is a matchup between a veteran and a talented up-and-coming coach. Kelly is 22-5 in his second season at Cincinnati and has the Bearcats in their first BCS game. Beamer is 176-89-2 in his 22nd season at Virginia Tech, but is 0-2 in the Orange Bowl.

4. Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. He has rushed for 100 yards or more three times this season, and will need his feet to escape a Cincinnati defense that thrives on pressuring quarterbacks.

5. Clemson's record-breakers. Running back James Davis needs just 112 rushing yards on Thursday (his birthday) to become Clemson's all-time leading rusher. He already has 49 career touchdowns, also second in school history and just one short of Travis Zachery's record. Clemson receiver Aaron Kelly needs just 23 receiving yards to become the school's career leader and he already has the ACC career record for touchdowns.

6. Virginia Tech's field position. In close games, field position is critical, and Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber gives the Bearcats the edge. Cincinnati is No. 1 in the country in net punting with 41.51 yards per game. Huber averages 44.89 yards per punt to rank seventh in the nation.

7. Clemson's new and improved offensive line. This had been the root of the Tigers' problems for three quarters of the regular season, but now that they're healthy and have found the right combination, it has freed the top playmakers to make plays. Clemson is 4-0 when it starts an offensive line composed of Thomas Austin and Mason Cloy at guard, Landon Walker and Chris Hairston at tackle, and Bobby Hutchinson at center. That is slated to be Clemson's starting lineup on the of¬fensive line in the Gator Bowl.

Picking the Big 12 bowl games

December, 31, 2008
12/31/08
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here are my picks for the second round of Big 12 bowl games, beginning with Thursday's Konica Minolta Gator Bowl

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl -- Clemson 31, Nebraska 28
Dabo Swinney has energized the Clemson program after taking over as interim coach -- a little like Bo Pelini's job with the Cornhuskers from earlier this season. Both of these teams are playing their best football of the season. But I expect Clemson to beat Nebraska with a taste of its own medicine by controlling the clock thanks to a heavy dose of tailbacks James Davis and C.J. Spiller. If the Tigers can do this and keep quarterback Cullen Harper out of too many long-yardage situations, I expect them to nose past the Cornhuskers and fulfill a little of their early promise expected of them. It just took a different coach to get them there.

AT&T Cotton Bowl -- Texas Tech 34, Mississippi 20
It will be good for the Red Raiders to get back to football after some of the travails of the last several weeks. But Graham Harrell's surgery and Mike Leach's contract squabbles should be long forgotten by the team that many forgot still earned a share of the Big 12 South Division title. Look for a healthy Michael Crabtree to be the difference in this game, if the Red Raiders can keep a salty defensive front from pressuring Harrell. And even if the Rebels get ahead early, remember that Harrell has directed two wild bowl comebacks in the last two seasons, rallying the Red Raiders from a 31-point deficit to win the 2006 Insight Bowl over Minnesota and a 17-point deficit in the final four minutes to direct a comeback in last season's Gator Bowl over Virginia. Houston Nutt has directed a nice renaissance with the Rebels this season, leading them to victories over the last two national championship teams. But the chore of beating Texas Tech will prove too much for them on Friday.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl -- Texas 41, Ohio State 20
After being snubbed for the Big 12 title game, the Longhorns will approach this game with a chip on their shoulder. That's not a pretty proposition for an Ohio State team that has been blown out of its last two BCS bowl games by a combined score of 79-38. The key for the game will be the play of streaky Ohio State freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor and the return of tailback Chris Wells. I expect Texas' defensive front keyed by Brian Orakpo and Roy Miller to exert enough pressure to keep Pryor discombobulated most of the game. And if Texas can get receivers Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby open against a tough Ohio State secondary keyed by Malcolm Jenkins, the Longhorns should have the edge on offense, too. This game will be close at the half, before the Longhorns pull away in the second half.


My bowl picks last week: 1-1* (50.0 percent)
My picks for the season: 85-14 (85.9 percent)

* Not including Wednesday's Kansas-Minnesota game

ACC's lunchtime links

December, 30, 2008
12/30/08
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

The 31-player senior class at Maryland still has one more opportunity to salvage an otherwise disappointing season and go out on a winning note. There are plenty of reasons for the Terps to be excited about playing Nevada, but trying to contain the Wolf Pack's offense without their defensive coordinator isn't one of them.

Virginia Tech is confident its freshmen are ready to step in for Nick Marshman and Brett Warren. They're really got no other choice.

Jacory Harris' father says his son wants Miami's next coordinator to "open it up a bit more," and that he "likes the spread." Funny, but former offensive coordinator Patrick Nix said he "wanted to be a little bit more wide open ... spread out, go for it," but coach Randy Shannon 'Nixed' that.

Clemson running back James Davis says you're gonna see him run like never before against Nebraska. After all, he's chasing a record in his final game.

If the doctor says you can't play, you can't play -- even if your name is Russell Wilson. He should be fine for baseball, though.

Jan. 1, 1 p.m., CBS

Clemson take by ACC blogger Heather Dinich: This decision didn't sit well with some folks in Tallahassee, but Clemson's fan base travels well, and the Tigers finished the season with three straight wins, including a big one over rival South Carolina in the season finale.

Clemson will have a partly new coaching staff on the sideline for this game, and coach Dabo Swinney could hire a defensive coordinator after it.

Defense wasn't Clemson's problem this season, and it will be key in this game. In the ACC, Nebraska's 36.2 points per game would look spectacular and lead the conference. In the gun-slinging Big 12, it's merely middle of the pack.

Clemson's secondary, led by safety Michael Hamlin, is tough to beat. But how it reacts to its first game without defensive coordinator and secondary coach Vic Koenning remains to be seen.

Clemson's top offensive players have been more noticeable in recent weeks and that's due in large part to the offensive line finally being healthy and coming together. Nebraska finished the season on a three-game winning streak in Bo Pelini's first season. The Huskers often beat themselves this season, as they have the worst turnover margin in the Big 12 (minus-10).


Nebraska take by Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin: A New Year's Day bowl game might have seemed unlikely for both teams after both were sitting at 3-3 at midseason.

But Bo Pelini and Dabo Swinney both have done nice jobs to help their teams finish strong. Pelini started his year with Nebraska this season and Swinney took over on an interim basis after Tommy Bowden was fired and has since been hired permanently.

The Cornhuskers closed quickly under Pelini, winning five of their last six games to help Nebraska surge at the end of the season. The biggest reason for their success was the heady play of underrated quarterback Joe Ganz, who directed an offense that ranked 14th in passing offense, 12th in total offense and 18th in scoring.

The Tigers will be making a record ninth appearance in Jacksonville and have an intriguing set of offensive weapons keyed by a strong 1-2 punch at tailback in James Davis and C.J. Spiller. Davis needs 112 yards to become Clemson's career rushing leader and Spiller needs 114 yards to earn the school's record in all-purpose yards.

Clemson's defense ranked ninth nationally in pass defense, 10th in scoring defense and 17th in total defense. But it is unknown how the Tigers will react after former coordinator Vic Koenning stepped down out after the season. And Nebraska's balanced offensive attack will challenge them, particularly if running back Roy Helu Jr. is prominently featured.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Dabo Swinney could be announced as Clemson's next head coach as soon as today, multiple sources told ESPN on Sunday.

 
 Rex Brown/Getty Images
 Dabo Swinney is 4-2 since taking over for Tommy Bowden.

It's too early to tell whether this is the right move.

All eyes will be on Terry Don Phillips on this one, not necessarily Dabo Swinney. This is Phillips' hire, and it needs to be his signature hire. He could have gone outside and gotten a much more experienced coach. Somebody like Bobby Johnson, or Jim Grobe. Heck, he could have even gotten somebody with prior experience as a coordinator, something Swinney never was before taking over for Tommy Bowden.

Clearly, though, he sees something in Swinney that gives him confidence.

Considering what Swinney has done, he should.

Swinney took over a program in absolute shambles. From preseason No. 9 to coachless in midseason and headed for disaster. He made the necessary changes, which at the time seemed rash, and they have proven to be the right moves. The offense is more effective without former offensive coordinator Rob Spence, but the offensive line also has something to do with that.

This team was 1-3 in the ACC after Swinney's first game as interim head coach, which was a 21-17 home loss to Georgia Tech. I was there for that. Aside from the pregame pagentry and Tiger Walk, it seemed as if little had changed besides the face of the program.

Swinney proved otherwise with his 27-21 road win over Boston College the following week. Since taking over for Bowden, Swinney has gone 4-2 and made the Tigers bowl eligible. That seemed impossible a month ago. And he had to beat rival South Carolina to do it.

So right now, he looks like a good choice for the job. It was a choice Phillips said would be "easy" if everything worked out the way he thought it would. It's like running a play out of the shotgun, though, on third-and-1 when you have James Davis on your roster -- it only looks good if it works, and when it doesn't, it's not the quarterback who takes the heat.

It's the man who called the play.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

I don't know about you guys, but I can't eat anymore. I might skip lunch, but not your lunchtime links:

  • You'll never know what BC quarterback Dominique Davis is thinking, and that's just the way he likes it.
  • UNC quarterback T.J. Yates got the starting nod over Cam Sexton.
  • With conference championships either out of their hands or, in Georgia's case, out of the realm of possibility, the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets turn their attention to the state championship this weekend.
  • Glenn Cook, aka "Granddaddy Cook" will play his final game for Miami this weekend, and the 23-year-old starting middle linebacker would never have been the Canes' leading tackler this season had it not been for a sixth season of eligibility. In order to go out on a winning note, though, he and the Miami defense will have to stop NC State quarterback Russell Wilson, whose biggest fan on Saturday will be his baseball coach.
  • Much like the change the entire program has this season, Clemson running back James Davis also has a different outlook on things as he prepares to play his last game in Tiger Stadium.ACC's lunchtime links: BC's Davis ready

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson's defense was dancing. Heading-bobbing to the hip-hop played between each break.

Until Georgia Tech B-back Jonathan Dwyer stopped the music.

All it takes is one missed assignment and Georgia Tech's big-play capability can suck the life out of even the most energized defense. That's exactly what happened in the second quarter when Dwyer burst for a 31-yard run on a third-and-16.

Clemson bandit end Ricky Sapp was ready for this game. Sapp has been out there bouncing up and down, waiving his hands in the air to get the crowd into it. His enthusiasm has been contagious throughout the entire Tigers' defense, and they have made key stops on third down.

But Georgia Tech's defense has been better. Safety Morgan Burnett squashed a flash of momentum with the Yellow Jackets' third interception of the first half. Clemson has turned it over four times, and they're lucky they only lost one of three fumbles.

It hasn't mattered that Dabo Swinney is now the coach, or that Willy Korn started at quarterback, because this is still the same offensive line Tommy Bowden had to work with a week ago. And it hasn't been able to keep Georgia Tech's defensive line out of its backfield. Jacoby Ford and James Davis each has negative yards rushing.

Clemson has 79 yards of total offense, and unless Swinney goes ahead and lines up at left tackle, there's not going to be any miracles in the second half.

Meanwhile, Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt looks off. He hasn't played since the first quarter of the Mississippi State game and his timing seems off.

Clemson freshman running back Jamie Harper (you remember, the poor kid who will forever be remembered as the freshman who fumbled his first snap against Alabama?) is playing well in the absence of injured star C.J. Spiller.

The fans aren't booing like they were the last time I was here (second half against Maryland), and it's a packed house. They seem to have some patience, despite a mostly bumbling offensive performance.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

CLEMSON, S.C. -- New coach, new quarterback, new offense, same result on the scoreboard here in Memorial Stadium.

Interim head coach Dabo Swinney and assistant Billy Napier are calling the plays, and it's definitely a new look. More players are involved, James Davis took a direct snap, and for the first time since 2005, somebody other than the quarterback made a passing attempt.

And it didn't turn out too well.

Receiver Tyler Grisham's lone passing attempt was intercepted by safety Dominique Reese and returned 34 yards for the Yellow Jackets' 7-0 lead. And Tech is winning the battle up front.

Derrick Morgan, who has arguably the most potential of the defensive linemen for a successful NFL career, easily pushed past right tackle Landon Walker and got a hand on quarterback Willy Korn as he was passing. The play resulted in the second interception of the first quarter.

Cullen Harper entered the game on Clemson's final possession because Korn has a shoulder injury and is being evaluated.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Tommy Bowden is out at Clemson, and it should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to what Clemson hasn't done this season.

 
 Brian Schneider/US Presswire
 Tommy Bowden is out at Clemson after the Tigers started the season 3-3.

In fact, if you're Jeff Harper, father of benched Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper, you might even call it "karma."

There was no reason to prolong this decision, not after the loss to Wake Forest all but knocked the Tigers out of the running for the program's first ACC title since 1991, and not after Bowden demoted Harper in an attempt to appease the fans and save face.

Tommy Bowden lost his team long before he lost his job.

"I enjoyed playing for coach Bowden and I liked him, but in the end he was yelling at us to be leaders and it wasn't working," running back C.J. Spiller told ESPN's Joe Schad. "He did all he could to motivate us, but guys weren't buying into what he was saying.

"He let the offensive coordinator [Rob Spence] run the show and we got away from me and James [Davis]," Spiller said. "I think part of the problem was when he benched Cullen. Some people wanted the offensive coordinator fired, he fired the quarterback and then he got fired."

Bowden is not a bad football coach, but he is not a great manager. He had nothing to do with the play calling. Maybe he should have. He refused to make staff changes. So he became the change.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

It's a big week for Florida State, and not because of the game on Thursday night. It's time to meet with the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, and it's not to discuss the Noles' 9.8 penalties per game over lunch.

The Willy Korn era officially began at Clemson's Sunday night practice. Get this -- Korn said he learned of his promotion while surfing the Internet. Which is where I learned that C.J. Spiller might be out for the Georgia Tech game with a pulled hamstring, at least according to his buddy James Davis.

After even further review, officials at the North Carolina/Notre Dame game this past weekend got it right

It takes more than three interceptions and a shaky performance against UCF to lose your starting job at Miami these days. Randy Shannon told the Miami Herald Robert Marve is still the guy.

The big story in Raleigh, N.C. this week is the return of former NC State coach Chuck Amato when FSU plays NC State on Thursday night. Current coach Tom O'Brien is handling the situation well, though. When asked about the state of the program when he inherited it, O'Brien said, "it didn't matter what shape the program was in. I'm the head coach and I have to make it better."

One last thing ... a great story about David Cutcliffe and his family.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- James Davis has stepped up in the absence of C.J. Spiller, who is out with a leg injury, and Clemson has gotten a bit more production out of its passing game. That's a direct benefit of Chris Hairston returning to the offensive line.

They were finally able to do something Wake Forest was not -- convert in the red zone.

Neither of these teams is looking too impressive tonight, and both have made foolish penalties.

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