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Clemson primed for special year

Clemson, coached by Tommy Bowden, has not won an ACC Title since 1991,the year before Florida State, coached by his father Bobby, entered the league.

But thanks to an offense stacked with weapons, this year may be as good a chance as any for the son's program to replace the father's as perennial league favorite.

The Tigers' strength starts up front, with one of the most experienced offensive lines in college football. In a rare feat in today's game, Bowden returns all five starters up front, including star guard Roman Fry.

Earlier this summer, the senior was named to the Outland Trophy Preseason Watch List, which is made up of the top 54 offensive or defensive linemen in the country.

"Having five starters back on the offensive line is a comfort zone I haven't had since I've been here," Bowden said.

Four of the starters on the offensive line are seniors, and the fifth, Barry Richardson, a junior, has been starting since his freshman year, so the line has a good deal of time working together.

Good protection will be key for the Tigers, whose starting quarterback does not have a lot of experience.

Will Proctor, a 5th-year senior, has started only one game in a career largely spent backing up the now-departed Charlie Whitehurst. In his lone career start-last season against Duke-he threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another in a 49-20 victory. Protecting Proctor, who is not fleet afoot, will be an important factor in the success of Clemson this season.

"Our quarterback is the least experienced of our 11 starters on offense," Bowden said.

Fry and the offensive line will have an easier time blocking for the Clemson ground game because starting tailback James Davis, reigning ACC Rookie of the Year, was one of the top freshman running backs in the country last year.

In 2005, Davis took over for starter Reggie Meriweather halfway through the season and dominated opponents, finishing the season with 879 yards. He is the type of running back who can break a long run on any play-he had 10 runs of 20 yards or more on just 165 carries last season.

If Proctor gets time, he should be able to find targets like first-team All-ACC wideout Chansi Stuckey, who is regarded as one of the top receivers in the ACC. Stuckey hauled in 54 balls for 770 yards last season and is also a big-play threat, notching 14 receptions of longer than 20 yards.

On the other side, highly recruited sophomore wide receiver Aaron Kelly has battled with Rendrick Taylor for the starting spot.


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