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September 28, 2009

Waiting and hoping

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CLEMSON, S.C. -- Willy Korn dismisses the notion that a transfer is imminent.

He does not dismiss the notion that sitting two games has been disappointing to him in light of his understanding and expectation that he'd play in every game this season.

"I really want to play," Korn said Monday. "I really want to contribute. When a guy tells you you're going to be playing every single game, that's what you expect."

Korn, a third-year sophomore who bided his time behind Cullen Harper in 2007 and 2008, lost out to redshirt freshman Kyle Parker in August camp. His disappointment was softened by the assurance he'd be given ample opportunity to prove himself.

Korn said coach Dabo Swinney, upon naming Parker the starter, "guaranteed" he'd would play in every game and have a chance to win the job.

"Those are things he said to my face," Korn said.

Korn did not see the field against Georgia Tech, largely because of the 24-0 first-half deficit the Tigers faced, and was confined to the sidelines during Saturday's 14-10 loss to TCU at Death Valley.

It's hard to make a case for more playing time given all the bad stuff that's happened when he has been in the game, and Korn said he gets that. He said he also understands the coaching staff faced unforeseen circumstances in both games.

Nevertheless, Korn desperately wants more opportunities as the season progresses.

"I really want to play," he said. "It's not easy watching football games; it's really not. I know I'm a really good player, and I know I've still got a lot of football left in me."

Fans have been speculating that Korn will be playing football elsewhere after this season. Appalachian State has been the most popular rumored destination, but Korn shot that down.

"It's just a rumor. Just like last year, I was supposedly going to Furman at the beginning of the season. Don't pay any attention to it. It's just a rumor. I'm a Clemson Tiger. I'm committed to this team and helping us win a championship."

Korn, who is on schedule to graduate in May, left open the possibility that he could transfer after the season - "Everybody takes a look at it, but it's nothing I can forecast this early in the season" - yet he said he nor anyone close to him has discussed it.

"No one in my family talks about it. We're just focusing on this year. I'll be here the entire season. No one can determine what's going to happen two years, three years down the line, five years from now."

Korn dealt with a disastrous opener against Middle Tennessee. On his second snap, the ball slipped from his hands as he was reaching back to pass and fell into the hands of a defender, who took it 68 yards the other way for a touchdown.

Korn was inserted in the third quarter but threw an interception on the second play of the possession after Jamie Harper couldn't corral a fluttering swing pass.

Korn entered again on the last drive of the game and handed off on four straight plays before taking a knee to run out the clock.

Two weeks later against Boston College, he was inserted in the second quarter after a turnover gave the Tigers possession eight yards from the end zone. C.J. Spiller was dropped for a loss of 6 on a running play; Korn threw a screen to Jacoby Ford for a loss of 1; and Korn ran option for a loss of 1 on third down, leading to a field goal.

Korn was back on the field early in the fourth quarter with Clemson up 19-0. On the first play, he handed off to Andre Ellington and Ellington lost a fumble.

He returned later in the fourth, with Clemson at Boston College's 17-yard line. Korn was sacked on second-and-5, and the Tigers kicked another field goal after running up the middle on third-and-11.

On six possessions with Korn running the show, the Tigers have totaled three turnovers and one first down.

Korn, anointed as the savior by many fans when he signed with the Tigers after a celebrated career at Byrnes High School, said he's "just had some really bad luck."

"I really haven't had a great number of opportunities to show what I can do on Saturdays," he said. "Hopefully I'll get some more opportunities and kind of get in a rhythm out there. It's kind of difficult when we don't get anything going. When I get in there, we go three-and-out and I go sit for an hour, and then I go back in there again. Hopefully we can kind of generate some momentum when I do get out there, get a couple of first downs and move the ball."

As difficult as Korn's current conundrum might seem, he says it's nothing compared to last season. Having rehabilitated from shoulder surgery he underwent in the fall of 2007, he suffered another injury to his throwing shoulder halfway through the season against Georgia Tech and pushed through before going through another surgery after the regular season.

He spent the recent offseason trying to repair throwing mechanics that were badly out of whack.

"Last year was 10 times more difficult than this year, just because I was injured and I never thought that I'd actually get back to the point where I could actually throw a football again," he said.

Korn pronounces all those problems resolved, putting him in prime position to help an offense that has scored one touchdown in the past nine quarters.

He just wants to get on the field and show what he can do.

"I'd like to get some more snaps, get more opportunities and kind of see my role expand a little bit more," he said. "Because I really want to contribute to this team, and I really want to help us win a championship."

*** To chat with other Clemson fans about this article please visit The West Zone message board.



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