Duke's players know what Tigers are going through Print
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Wednesday, 12 November 2008 12:42
NCAAF Headline News

 DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -Few people can understand the uncertainty hovering over the Clemson program these days. Duke's players are certainly among them.
The Blue Devils went through weeks of rumors last season about the job security of their coach before learning that Ted Roof would be fired at the end of the year. They seem settled and moving in the right direction with new coach David Cutcliffe, but that doesn't mean they don't feel a little bit for the Tigers - who have gone through a midseason coaching switch and are playing under an interim coach - heading into Saturday's game.
``I know what they're going through and understand what they're feeling,'' senior Tielor Robinson said. ``They can't really worry about who their coach is going to be and what's going to happen next year. Then you lose the now. And before you know it, the end of the season is here.
''
The Tigers started the year at No. 9 nationally but now find themselves fighting for bowl eligibility. Tommy Bowden stepped down as coach in October, forcing assistant Dabo Swinney to take over as the interim coach. Swinney has lost two of three games since, including Saturday's 41-27 loss at Florida State.
``I don't think it's relevant,'' receiver Raphael Chestnut said. ``We need to focus on what Duke needs to do, not on what Clemson needs to do. I feel bad about their situation, but I don't think it has anything to do with that.''
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KOENNING'S SEARCH: Clemson's defensive player of the week against Florida State? In defensive coordinator Vic Koenning's opinion: Nobody.
Koenning says he and his staff chose not to name a defensive standout after the Tigers' gave up a season-high in points in the 41-27 loss to the Seminoles. He reviewed the game tape at least four times since Sunday and found his players gave strong effort. No one, though, stood out as the Seminoles gained 419 yards.
Only Football Championship Subdivision opponent The Citadel, with 427, put up more yards on the Tigers this season.
With only three games left for Clemson (4-5), Koenning has spent time talking with his defenders about their concerns.
``Felt like that was more important that sitting around watching tape,'' Koenning said.
us make tackles or intercept balls,'' he said. ``But everybody's on the same page and that's the most important thing.''
Clemson's defense was the country's ninth best in 2007, allowing about 307 yards a game. The Tigers have fallen to 34th overall and seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
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TOP SEMINOLES: Florida State has several players who are among the conference's top statistical performers.
Graham Gano leads the league in scoring and is first nationally in field goals after making 17 straight, with five kicks from at least 50 yards. Senior tailback Antone Smith is second in the league in scoring with 14 touchdowns and an average of 9.3 points per game. It is the first time teammates have led the ACC in scoring since Florida State's Warrick Dunn, Scott Bentley and Andre Cooper finished 1-2-3 in 1995.
In addition, Michael Ray Garvin leads the nation in kickoff returns with an average of 34.3 yards.
The Seminoles (7-2, 4-2 ACC) lead the conference in total offense and scoring going into Saturday's game against Boston College. The Eagles (6-3, 2-3) rank second in scoring defense and total defense.
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STAYING PUT: Boston College junior linebacker Mark Herzlich has no plans to head to the NFL after this season.
or and strive for,'' he said, ``but ... I'll be back next year and that's not really something I'm going to jump into.''
He said he has spoken to former teammates Matt Ryan, Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Tyronne Pruitt. Their advice: ``The money will be there, you just have fun in college and be better there.''
``I definitely have a lot of room for improvement, so that's what the rest of the season and the offseason's going to do,'' he said. ``Then, after next year, hopefully I stay healthy, then it will be time to move on.''
Herzlich hopes to have his degree in marketing in finance next December, after 3 1/2 years of college.
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NICKS' FUTURE: North Carolina junior receiver Hakeem Nicks set the school's career record for receiving yardage over the weekend and had a four-touchdown game against Boston College a few weeks ago. But coach Butch Davis said he's not sure whether Nicks will consider declaring for the NFL draft or returning for another year with the 17th-ranked Tar Heels.
``Hakeem and I have had discussions prior to the start of the season,'' Davis said. ``And then after that, it's just, 'Play as great as you can.' When the season's over with, he and I will sit down with this family and we'll take a look realistically. ... There's no sense of urgency. We've got plenty of time.''
Nicks leads the league at 94.9 yards receiving per game to go with eight touchdown catches.
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AP Sports Writer Pete Iacobelli in Clemson, S.C., and Associated Press Writer Brent Kallestad in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed.
 

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