CLEMSON - Sophomore defensive end Da'Quan Bowers will likely miss a second consecutive game because of a sprained knee ligament, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Tuesday.
Bowers, who sprained the medial collateral ligament in one knee against Coastal Carolina two weeks ago, has not been ruled out of Saturday's noon game at N.C. State.
But Swinney, who expressed optimism for Bowers' forthcoming return as recently as after the Florida State victory, sounded doubtful three days later.
"He wants to play," Swinney said. "But my gut is he's probably out. But I can't say for sure."
While defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has suggested Bowers' NFL-caliber size and ability cannot be equally replaced, the Tigers did all right without him against the Seminoles.
Bowers' fill-in, senior Kevin Alexander, earned the team's defensive player of the game honors for racking up a career-best eight tackles and a half-sack in a season-high 42 snaps. It was Alexander's first game at strong-side end this season after moving to both the bandit end and strong-side linebacker positions in Steele's scheme.
"It's a pretty good luxury that we've got a lot of good players," Steele said.
Senior corner Chris Chancellor (sprained ankle), the only other player listed on Clemson's injury report, said he expects to play.
Kicking the habit. Junior kicker Richard Jackson said he did not see any glaring technical flaws when reviewing film of his four missed kicks against FSU.
Jackson said he simply has to trust his footwork and deal with the mental aspect of his performance. He figures to draw from an offseason in which he climbed from a deep academic hole and had to regain the trust of coaches and teammates.
"I've hit some lows before, you could say," Jackson said. "This is probably a low on the football field, but having some experience with failure helps when you're trying to bounce back."
Tajh Mahal. Clemson will have faced the ACC's top four pass-efficiency quarterbacks in as many league games after taking on N.C. State's Russell Wilson.
The Tigers have posted impressive numbers against the past three, and Steele echoed sentiment that his defense has benefited greatly by having touted freshman Tajh Boyd as the scout-team quarterback.
It was to the point the defensive staff could not believe they were spending time Monday night rewinding the practice film to marvel at Boyd's quick release.
"The guy is amazing," Steele said.
"He's got an uncanny ability to lead people. Very rarely does the scout-team quarterback have that kind of effect on the defense. He's trying to make you look bad and he's in your face."
Extra points. Running back C.J. Spiller said he banged his left knee during the FSU game, but the only injury he is receiving treatment for is his lingering turf toe. ... Swinney said he is looking for prolonged stellar play from his team, noting it won against Miami and FSU despite potentially costly mistakes. "My challenge to the team this week is, we need to go on the road and play a complete football game," he said. "We have yet to do that. And that's one of the disappointments to me." ... The Tigers have beaten the Wolfpack five times in a row, tied for their longest streak in the series. They also won from 1981-85.