Originally created 08/18/99

Area football: What to expect



CLEMSON vs. Marshall

Sept. 4, 6 p.m.

Identifying defensive schemes is the key to Clemson's new high-octane offense. Multiple receiver sets in varying formations will aid in confusing opposing defenses but the Tiger quarterbacks must recognize where to exploit a team's weaknesses.

"The strength of this offense is the weakness of the defense," said sophomore quarterback Woody Dantzler. "Whatever the defense gives us, that's what we're going to take. We're not going into every game saying we're going to have to pass for this or pass for that.

"Some people may think we're going to pass it and we'll run it down their throat."

Dantzler said coach Tommy Bowden calls his no-huddle, up-tempo offense Indy, like the race track.

"This offense is fun," Dantzler said. "It makes you want to learn it. An offense like this will bring exposure."

The Tigers' defensive heritage is packed with NFL success stories and while the team has seen a collapse in prestige, the defensive unit has remained strong. Naturally, senior defensive tackle Damonte McKenzie was thrilled when Bowden installed his offense.

"We feel like now we have an offense," McKenzie said. "I call him a mastermind. It's good to know we have the offense to back us up."

GEORGIA TECH at Navy,

Sept. 4, Noon, Fox/Sports 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 with 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 computer 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.

Holding their second day of full-contact practice at the Woodruff practice fields, the Georgia Bulldogs continued two-a-day workouts on Tuesday with a 90-minute morning session in shoulder pads and shorts and a two-hour afternoon session in full pads.

"We had a good practice today," Bulldogs coach Jim Donnan said. "The heat this morning was as bad as any day we've had here. In the afternoon, we held a situational scrimmage, working our offense and defense against each other. We had good effort, but our execution was not really good. We're a little sluggish, but that's something that we've got to fight through."

In an injury update, Donnan announced that freshman running back Bruce Thornton of LaGrange, Ga., suffered a fracture/dislocation of his left wrist in Monday night's practice at Sanford Stadium.

Team orthopedic surgeons Mixon Robinson and Robert Hancock performed surgery late Monday evening at St. Mary's Hospital to reduce the dislocation and insert pins to stabilize the fracture.

Donnan said that Thornton is out indefinitely.

Fellow running back Patrick Pass, a senior from Tucker, Ga., also suffered a slightly sprained ankle in the Monday evening workout but is expected to return within the week.

SOUTH CAROLINA at N.C. State,

Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m.

Two-a-days were supposed to run through today, but coach Lou Holtz said his players' fatigue cut the drills down to one.

"They have nothing left right now," said Holtz, whose team will take this morning off before practicing in the afternoon. "They're really beat down, but that's the way it should be when you come out of two-a-days ... They just don't have any more left on them right now."

Fullback Antione Nesmith credited divine intervention for the reprieve.

"The only thing I can say is the Lord is good," the sophomore said.

Holtz said he's no closer to deciding on a quarterback to back up sophomore Phil Petty this fall, something he hoped to have accomplished by now.

"There are certain things we believe you have to do," he said. "We're not making progress in the things you have to do."

Offensive tackle Melvin Paige suffered a slight knee strain Tuesday. Holtz said the sophomore should be back before Monday.

The status of another offensive lineman, former Strom Thurmond standout Jason Cox, was unknown Tuesday. The sophomore underwent an MRI on Monday after suffering a bruised knee in the Gamecocks' scrimmage Sunday.

GEORGIA SOUTHERN vs. Fayetteville State

Sept. 4, 7 p.m.