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September 11, 2008CLEMSON, (S.C.) - Heralded true freshman defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, as expected, has cracked the Tigers' starting lineup. Bowers will be the first-team strongside end Saturday when the Tigers (1-1) play host to N.C. State (1-1) in their conference opener.
Alexander, a junior, started the Tigers' first two games of the season at the strongside position.
"Kevin was like, 'What are you talking about?' Coach Rumph told him he'd be starting at bandit and for him to head on over to the bandit meeting with Coach (Ron) West. He has been over there all week," Bowers added.
Bowers said the start couldn't come at a better time.
"It's against an ACC team," he said. "It's an ACC start. It's a good time to make a statement, not only for me but for our whole defensive team."
Clemson coach Tommy Bowden expressed concern over the weekend about his defense's lack of a pass-rush through the first eight quarters of play this season.
Bowers has six tackles and one sack on the season, the only sack for the Tigers defense.
"I tell my guys all the time that I am going to play the best guy, the guy that performs," Rumph said. "For the past two weeks he has been performing the best. He deserves a start."
The move does muddy the waters up front some what. Junior bandit end Ricky Sapp, who has just 13 snaps on the season after suffering a knee injury in the season-opener versus Alabama, missed last weekend's game versus the Citadel. As a measure of precaution, he may not play on Saturday.
"I think Coach Bowden is going to make a decision on all that sometime Thursday," Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning told Tigerillustrated.com Wednesday evening. "We've had guys rep all over the place up front this week."
Sapp said earlier in the week he felt he would definitely start this weekend.
"I'm just real sore right now, just a little pain," he said Wednesday. "But I did a lot of extra things today. I got work with the scout team for the first time this week. I was Willie Young."
Bowers said he urged Sapp to sit out.
"Ricky is good to play, but I don't know if he's going to play," Bowers said. "It's up to him. I told him to sit out just to be on the safe side."
Sapp, easily the Tigers' top pass-rusher, was again in a green jersey on Wednesday. He has not worked from scrimmage with the first or second-team front for nearly two weeks.
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