Originally created 08/17/99

Football today: Reports from around the SEC



CLEMSON vs. Marshall

Sept. 4, 6 p.m.

Robert Carswell, known on campus as "the franchise," has remained straight-laced despite the many pitfalls that present themselves to collegiate athletes.

"I've been able to keep the upper hand," Clemson's senior safety said. "I'd be lying to you if I said the temptations haven't come, but you have to stay strong and remember where you came from.

"The same temptations were there in high school. You have to remember what you're here to do and stay focused."

The Tigers' leading returning tackler is a member of Clemson's LIFELINE organization, a community service leadership group. Carswell also volunteers at a school in Anderson for delinquent children.

Despite fighting for the starting quarterback role, senior Brandon Streeter, sophomore Woody Dantzler and true freshman Willie Simmons support and assist each other on the practice field.

"Both those guys are great," Simmons said. "It's a competition out there but it's like a family rivalry. Each one wants to see the other do good.

Simmons reveals his anxiousness to get on the field when discussing the offensive scheme.

"When you operate this offense right, it's pretty much unstoppable," he said.

Bowden said he probably won't determine the starter until 10 days before the first game. He has been impressed with Simmons' grasp of his system.

"To mentally know what he does (as a freshman) is amazing," Bowden said.

GEORGIA TECH at Navy

Sept. 4, Noon, FoxSports Net South

It's a little early for Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary to get excited about the college football polls.

The Yellow Jackets, co-champions of the ACC and a No. 9 position in the final polls last year, enter the season ranked 11th by The Associated Press and the USA Today/ESPN polls. It's the highest preseason ranking for Georgia Tech since the Yellow Jackets were ranked sixth by USA Today and eighth by AP in 1991.

"I'd rather see those polls in November than September," O'Leary said as Georgia Tech continued its two-a-day workouts Monday. "But they're great for fan interest and keeping fans abreast of what other people think about your football team."

The national championship game, along with the rest of the Bowl Championship Series, will be determined by the use of eight different ranking services, including the USA Today/ESPN and AP polls. One of the rankings that will be used, the Jeff Sagarin compunter rankings, currently has the Yellow Jackets ranked 30th.

"It's good to have expectations," O'Leary said. But "as coaches, the most pressure we feel is the pressure we put on ourselves."

The Yellow Jackets conducted their first practice in full pads Sunday, and O'Leary said the team seemed a little tired.

"It was the seventh practice (overall), and their legs are starting to feel it," the coach said. "There were too many mistakes, and the intensity wasn't there for the last part of practice. Every period has to be intense. I spoke with them about it, and they understand.

"We saw some good hits (Sunday) on both sides of the ball. We've got some players to work with. I like to see who hits people at the same speed they run."

GEORGIA vs. Utah St.

Sept. 4, 6 p.m.

One of the primary concerns for the coaching staff in the preseason has been finding enough room on the field for Georgia's considerable talent at linebacker, and Monday's practices gave the first hint about what the Bulldogs may do to break up the logjam at the position.

Redshirt freshman Tony Gilbert, a highly touted middle linebacker, was working as the No. 2 weakside linebacker (backing up Orantes Grant) during 7-on-7 drills. Another star prep middle linebacker, freshman Jessie Miller, was on the strong side, with last year's starter Adrian Hollingshed in the middle.

Grant was joined on the first team by sophomores Boss Bailey (strongside) and Will Witherspoon (middle).

Georgia coach Jim Donnan said Gilbert's versatility has allowed the coaches to move him around a bit.

Pennsylvania high school tailback Musa Smith made an oral commitment to Georgia on Monday. In a press conference at West Perry High School, Smith publicly announced his intention to attend Georgia next fall, choosing the Bulldogs over Wisconsin.

Asked about making such an early commitment (he is Georgia's first for the February 2000 signing class), Smith merely simply said it was time.

Smith, 6-2, 205 pounds, rushed for 1,477 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, but was also a stalwart at defensive back.

SOUTH CAROLINA at N.C. State

Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m.

FLORIDA STATE vs. Louisiana Tech

Aug. 28, 5 p.m., ESPN2

Lakeside High graduate Ryan Sprague has moved up to the starting tight end position at Florida State.

Sprague, a redshirt junior, reported to fall camp in better shape than senior Nick Franklin, the No. 1 tight end after spring drills, according to Florida State coaches. Sprague has dropped 28 pounds, down to 6-foot-4, 244 pounds.

"(Sprague) had the better off-season," Florida State tight ends coach John Lilly told The Tallahassee Democrat.

Sprague was a walk-on in 1996 and earned a scholarship. He has also played fullback and center during his four years in Tallahassee.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN vs. Fayetteville State

Sept. 4, 7 p.m.

For the first time since 1990, Southern will open the season No. 1 in two polls. The Sports Network's preseason I-AA Top 25, released Monday, had the Eagles with 58 first-place votes, followed by defending national champion Massachusetts. The CNN/SI coaches poll, released last week, had Southern No. 1 also.