Clemson University

'Bamberg' alignment confuses Boston College

CLEMSON - Da'Quan Bowers claims to have witnessed the eyes of Boston College's quarterback bulge at the sight of Clemson's unconventional formation.

Considering Bowers and Ricky Sapp generally are lined up wide at the defensive end positions, they had to be amazed by the clarity of the view, too.

Last Saturday, first-year defensive coordinator Kevin Steele unveiled a wrinkle in which Clemson's bookends inverted with its inside linebackers, positioning the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Sapp and 6-4, 280-pound Bowers as roaming, stand-up linebackers.

The formation is called "Bamberg" after the distant cousins' hometown.

Like just about everything else the Tigers' defense tried, it worked, as the wrinkle seemingly confused Boston College's linemen and enabled Sapp and Bowers to mount a significant pass-rush with a running start up the interior gaps.

"When you study film as an offensive player, the quarterback usually makes his checks off the linebacker," Bowers said. "When he sees 7 (Sapp) and 93 (Bowers) standing back there, it's a little hard for him to determine which is which linebacker and who the protection's for."

Injury update. Junior tackle Chris Hairston (sprained MCL) participated in limited individual drill work Wednesday and has a chance to play Saturday against No. 15 TCU, coach Dabo Swinney said.

"I think it's something that will just keep getting better," Swinney said. "I don't anticipate any decision until gametime, literally. We're going to watch him in warm-ups and if he can go, he'll go. If not, we'll hold him.

Swinney also said senior running back C.J. Spiller (turf toe) "practiced well."

Status quo. Swinney said he remains committed to using backup quarterback Willy Korn in every game as a means to build experience at that position.

In the three drives Korn oversaw against Boston College before the final clock-killer, the Tigers netted minus-3 yards. But Swinney intimated that the same problems would have stunted those drives regardless of who was quarterback, and Korn is not reaching the point where diminished returns would lead Swinney to change his plan.

"He did fine with what he was asked to do," Swinney said. "I have all the confidence in the world with Willy."

Numbers game. Statistics support the belief Clemson's offense will have to produce if the Tigers are to have a reasonable chance of defeating TCU.

Under coach Gary Patterson, the Horned Frogs are 53-1 when allowing 17 points orfewer. The only loss was last year's 13-10 defeat at Utah.

In the past five years, TCU is 37-1 when it has as many turnovers or fewer than its opponent. It has gone 6-9 when losing the turnover battle.

Off the mat. It has been a long two weeks for senior Cory Lambert, demoted from starting right tackle midway through the Georgia Tech game because of his struggles against speed-rusher Derrick Morgan.

But Lambert said he knew not to allow the experience to drag him down psychologically because the Tigers would need him again.

That time might have arrived. Lambert has been working as the first-string left tackle this week amid Hairston's absence.

"I don't know exactly what was going through my head (against Georgia Tech), but my technique was all out of whack," Lambert said. "These past two weeks have been good, though, as far as learning from my mistakes, and that's the key thing.

"That's all I can do, not let the Georgia Tech game put me down for the rest of the season, because we've got a lot of ball games left to play."

Extra points. After a few months of having players walk across the long parking lot and across a four-lane road from their new Memorial Stadium locker room to the practice fields, the Tigers now pile onto covered trailers with bleacher benches, which are hauled by pickup truck. "It's much safer," Swinney said. "Much more efficient with our time." ... Clemson's 1959 ACC championship team will be honored at halftime Saturday as part of its 50-year reunion. Interestingly, that squad beat No. 7 TCU 23-7 in the Bluebonnet Bowl.