Q&A with Tommy Bowden (Part I)

CUTigers.com caught up with head coach Tommy Bowden for an extensive question and answer session before Wednesday's golf tournament. All of your questions about the 2003 season are answered in this first of a two part Q&A. Details on offensive play calling, Roscoe Crosby, the I-formation, the hot seat, and everything else you can think of are contained inside!

Is the pressure you are feeling this year a little more than what you've felt in years past?
Bowden: In the coaching profession, you can pretty much take every year the same. Expectations here are high, probably higher than most other Division I-A schools. But again, you know that coming in, so it's really no different than any other year as far as how you approach this season. In this job, if you lose, there are rumors of leaving, and if you win, there are rumors of you leaving.

After losing the bowl game in which you did last year, do you feel a bigger sense of urgency this year going into the season opener against Georgia?
Bowden: There would be a high sense of urgency regardless of how many games we won last year. Whether we would have won that bowl game or lost the bowl game, playing Georgia in the home opener is we approach it the same way.

You've brought in some new assistants this offseason, but have you done anything else differently this offseason compared to past years to help get this team over the hump?
Bowden: You always do an evaluation of your past season. You self scout yourself and you make the proper adjustments, and with the way we lost that bowl game...you probably put your nose the grindstone a little more. If we would have won that bowl game, there could be some false illusions headed into this season. I don't think we'll have any false illusions now. If there's a positive to that loss, it's that you turn over every stone and really do a thorough search on what we need to do to improve. I think we'll be a good team because of it.

You mentioned how the last season ended, are you a little more eager this year to get on the practice fields?
Bowden: Yeah, I am. We can't play soon enough. You put a freshman quarterback in there and win three of your last four and then we have a disaster in the bowl game. You have live with that. You can't play soon enough to remedy that situation.

You want to get more physical this year obviously, have you gotten reports from the weight room about progress in that department?
Bowden: Well, a lot of that goes back to the spring and our approach there with using more I-formation. Anytime you practice that you are going to promote more toughness just because of what you are trying to do. I think because we worked on that so much during the spring that's going to help us out tremendously. How much will we run against Georgia? Well, we'll try to keep that as much of a secret as possible.

Will the offense be more conservative now as a result of using more I-formation?
Bowden: I-formation- you can still throw (the football) out of that. I don't know that it's a conservative formation. You can do a lot of things out of it. We'll keep some 3-wide sets, 4-wide receiver sets, shotgun, and no-huddle. I can tell you that the style of our offense is not to be conservative.

How much of an adjustment has it been for you finding out that some of the guys you have returning on defense won't be eligible for you this year?
Bowden: Well, Kelvin Morris was injured in the spring, so we got some work in without him with some other guys. It could be a freshman that comes in and gets some work as a result of that too. We may have a freshman come in or another young guy take his place this fall. Brandon Jamison only played half the spring, so we've spent a good deal of time already preparing for both of those scenarios.

Have you spent a lot of time figuring out how to get Justin Miller involved on offense, defense, and special teams this summer?
Bowden: There's going to be some things we definitely will look at. Again, he's still a young player, so we have to watch that and see how much we can handle. But we want to see what he can do.

What's the timetable now for the return of Eric Sampson and/or Roscoe Crosby?
Bowden: Most of those things, we have a pretty good idea. We have to wait until after the 2nd summer school session with Sampson. Roscoe will go through the normal appeal process. There are some things we are looking into now there, but compliance and the athletic department will handle that.

Without pinning you down on an exact number, do you feel like you need to win at least 8 games this year to give the perception that the program is continuing to move forward?
Bowden: There's a 117 Division I-A coaches, if you can find one that can answer that question then you've done your job, and you are a better man that I am. I think we'll be an improved team. We'll be improved on offense, defense, and special teams this year...now how that translates into wins and losses, I just can't say.

Looking at the schedule this year, from the time you play Georgia Tech on September 20th, up until you play N.C. State on a Thursday night, that looks to be the most critical stretch since you've been at Clemson....any thoughts on that?
Bowden: There are some open dates and breaks in the schedule, but you don't really get caught too much into that as a coach or a player because you take one game at a time. If you look at based on how everybody last year ended, there are some perceived hills and valleys in the schedule. But as a coach, you take the first game, and then you take the second game. It's one game at a time. You can't really look forward deeper in the schedule.

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