Area Clemson fans elated with Tigers’ ‘purr-fect’ start

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Tigers 7th in first BCS poll

By Robert Howey



Area Clemson University football fans are pleasantly surprised at the success of the unbeaten Tigers.

Clemson’s 7-0 start has the Tigers’ ranked No. 7 in the first Bowl Championship Series poll which was released Sunday night.

The BCS Standings are used to determine the schools who play in the BCS Bowls, including the BCS National Championship game.

The BCS ranking is composed of one-third from the USA Today Coaches Poll, a third from the Harris Poll and a third from the six computer polls.

Clemson’s No. 7 listing ties the Tigers’ best ranking in the elite poll.

Clemson was No. 7 in the Oct. 23, 2000 BCS standing, the first time Clemson was ranked by the BCS. That was the only previous time Clemson was ranked in the BCS 10 .

Fred Hicklin said with the Tigers’ roaring start, he feels the No. 7 ranking is on the money.

“That’s about where I thought they would be,” said Hicklin, a 45-year member of IPTAY, the Clemson athletic booster organization.

Hicklin, going into the season, said he didn’t figure the Tigers would be at their lofty perch at this stretch.

“I thought they would be about 4-3 at this point,” said Hicklin, a Clemson graduate.

Hicklin noted several factors in Clemson’s success.

“They have more playmakers and better receivers,” Hicklin said. “Tajh Boyd, at quarterback, has also overachieved this season.”

Hicklin said he’s confident about the rest of the season.

“I believe they can run the table, if they can pick up their defense,” he said.

Kevin Sowell said the Tigers’ new offensive coordinator Chad Morris has played a vital role in Clemson’s success.

“He’s confident in his system and he puts that same confidence in his players,” said Sowell, a Clemson graduate and a 16-year member of IPTAY. “Those players don’t panic, but keep playing.”

Sowell noted the Tigers’ latest win, a 56-45 ACC road win over Maryland, as a key example.

“Clemson was down by 18 in the second half, but they had that look that they were coming back,” Sowell said. “They think they can’t lose.”

Sowell added head coach Dabo Swinney’s confidence is contagious.

“He’s positive to play for,” Sowell said. “It seems like Dabo and Chad Morris are feeding off each other.”

Mike Barnes, an avid Tigers’ fans and season ticket holder, is elated and somewhat stunned at this point.

“I’m very pleased and very surprised,” Barnes said. “I thought this would be a rebuilding year because this team is so young. I didn’t think we would be this successful.”

Barnes credits Swinney.

“It is because of Dabo’s enthusiasm,” Barnes said. “The players are having a good time playing for him. He’s their biggest cheerleader, but the kids want to play for him. He’s having a ball.”

Barnes noted his son, Matt, a Lancaster High School junior, has been on target in his hopes for the 2011 Tigers.

“I said we would be 6-6, or possibly 7-5 this season, but Matt told me I was crazy because we were going to go 12-0,” Barnes said. “They have some tough games coming up, but I hope they can keep it up and Matt’s right about his predictions.”