|Tigers try to focus on next opponent, not big FSU victory|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 04 September 2007 11:47|
The Tigers have had a nasty habit in years past of following big success with crushing disappointment.
Three seasons ago, Clemson won at powerful Miami and then fell at lowly Duke. Then last year, with the Tigers sitting 7-1 and in control of the Atlantic Coast Conference, they stumbled with four losses in their final five games.
Now, with a campus swept up in Clemson's 24-18 victory over the then-No. 19 Seminoles on Monday night, it is hard not to wonder if there could be another backslide coming against Louisiana-Monroe this weekend.
Don't count on it, safety Michael Hamlin said Tuesday.
``We've got to put it behind us,'' he said. ``A lot of people are still living on the hype, but it's up to us to let it fly by.''
The Tigers (1-0) built a three-touchdown lead less than 17 minutes in the game, then held on as Florida State rallied in the second half.
The victory, Clemson's third straight in the annual Bowden Bowl matchup between father Bobby and son Tommy, moved the Tigers into the national rankings. Florida State (0-1) fell out.
Tommy Bowden wondered how his team might handle the increased expectations and national spotlight for the Labor Day game.
``I've been real pleased with the leadership of our team, throughout the spring, throughout the summer, staying out of trouble,'' he said. ``I think some of that showed by how we performed (Monday) night.''
Bowden thought his players were disciplined and tough, particularly the three times late in the game that Florida State had the ball when a touchdown would've given the Seminoles the lead. Each time, Clemson made critical stops.
``You always want to see whether you're in shape physically and mentally to play a 60-minute game against a quality opponent,'' Bowden said. ``But a little heart, desire, guts, whatever you want to call it, to step up and make a stop in a 60 minute game, that's what I'm going to take away from it.''
Defensive lineman Jock McKissic remembers how high the players were with the 7-1 start when it crashed with a 24-7 loss at Virginia Tech that began the late season slide.
``We don't want to get into that,'' McKissic said. ``We kind of learned from our mistakes.''
Clemson will likely need to call on that the next few weeks.
Louisiana-Monroe of the Sun Belt Conference was 4-8 a year ago and opened this season with a 35-17 loss to Tulsa. After that is Furman, a powerhouse Football Championship Subdivision program that can't be taken lightly, especially after Appalachian State topped Michigan? Then it's back to the ACC to play North Carolina State, which struggled in falling at home to Central Florida, 25-23, last Saturday.
Focus will be of prime importance during this stretch, said Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper who made his first career start a memorable one throwing two TD passes as the Tigers built a 21-0 lead that put the Seminoles on their heels.
``I was a little surprised how quick we came out and how many points we put up early,'' said Harper, who spent his first three years waiting behind quarterbacks Charlie Whitehurst and Will Proctor.
The danger, Harper says, is in treating Louisiana-Monroe differently than Florida State.
``We're not looking at them as a lesser opponent. We go in there with the same mind-set as we do with Florida State,'' Harper said. ``We've just got to make sure we go in there and not prepare for a letdown.''