Vincent doesn't start, but he doesn't sit long

As expected, Clemson junior middle linebacker Cortney Vincent took the field against Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but he didn’t start.

Vincent entered the game with 1:30 left in the first quarter.

Fellow junior Antonio Clay made his first start of 2007 after starting 10 games as a sophomore in 2006.

Vincent’s status was questionable following his Dec. 9 arrest in Pickens County on suspicion of driving under the influence. However, he practiced all week, and even though Clemson coach Tommy Bowden declined comment on his decision, it was obvious late in the week that one already had been made.

“If it comes up to where Cortney’s found to have some guilt, that’ll come up in a court date and then his punishment will follow,” Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said Saturday.

“You have to give someone the opportunity. The information presented to coach Bowden was enough to lead him to believe there was no question about that, so you have to give him the benefit of doubt.”

Vincent started all 12 games this season, with 64 tackles and two sacks entering Monday’s game.

His brief absence meant Clemson started the game with a totally different three-linebacker look than the one that started the Nov. 24 regular-season finale at South Carolina.

Senior starters Tramaine Billie and Nick Watkins were declared academically ineligible and didn’t make the trip. Freshman Scotty Cooper and sophomore Kavell Conner took their place; both made their second career start.

© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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