Q&A with Tommy Bowden (Part II)

CUTigers.com caught up with head coach Tommy Bowden for an extensive question and answer session Wednesday afternoon before the golf tournament. All of your questions about the 2003 season are answered in this second of a two part Q&A with the head man himself.

Have you second guessed yourself at all? You came with a plan, as you called it, have you second guessed that plan entering your fifth year here?
Bowden: No. Like I said, we've done a thorough self-scout from the weight room to academics, offense, defense, special teams. This year was no different, but when you lose like you did last season, it might force you to overturn more stones and find out what exactly went wrong. After recruiting this yearwe made some changes in short yardage and goal line situations. We've got to do something to correct those problems. We made a lot of adjustments this spring, just like you do it every year. I don't know if I would call it second-guessing as much as I would call it self-scouting yourself and finding potential problems.

Will you be calling more plays this year?
Bowden: Yes.

Why is that? Is it because of the situation now?
Bowden: No. You know, I did it for 11 years as an assistant. And then when we got together down at Tulane, I was heavily involved with Rich. I spent four years there doing that with Rich, and there are certain things I want to do here. Like if we are on the 25 going in (to the endzone) or we have 2nd and short, there are always certain things I want to do and certain things I don't want to do from a play-calling standpoint. Only I know that. Rich and I had a system on calling plays while he was here. We were used to each other. After Rich left, I didn't go back to what I used to in being active on Saturdays in terms of play calling. I've got a lot of experience in doing that, so I'm going back to it. Mike O'Cain was the primary play caller last year, and now I'll be handling more of that. Just like I did in the spring, and just like we'll do in the preseason.

Will you be calling a majority of the plays this year?
Bowden: Yes. From a play-calling standpoint, I plan on being more hands on. I'm pretty hands on to begin with, but yes, I'll be calling a majority of the plays.

Last season, how often were you calling the plays?
Bowden: Well I don't know if I could put a percentage on it. Maybe I'd say less than 50%. Again, towards the end of Rich's career, it was the same thing. I'm going back to what I was doing when I first started coaching now. More play calling, back to the fundamentals, the blocking, the tackling.

In terms of practice, does your role now change with you calling more plays?
Bowden: Yes. I called plays this spring. You better you get used to doing it. We haven't been able to get in the stadium and practice because of the renovations and everything. We need to get in there and get Charlie used to seeing the calls coming in. You know you've got a young quarterback over there looking for what you are getting ready to call. You've got to feel comfortable on both sides in calling the plays, so naturally that increases my role in practice.

Are your biggest concerns are on the offensive line and the backup quarterback?
Bowden: Well, I don't know if that's our biggest concern. I've said from day one our biggest concern is always the defense. We have to be able to win a close game, or play poor on offense, and be able win the game. You know I wouldn't say its a concern as a priority. If I'm not mistaken, didn't Georgia finish somewhere around 11th in the SEC in total offense last year and they won the SEC Championship? Defense is going to continue to get a major emphasis in practice for us.

Have you gotten any extra advice from your dad this offseason about how to deal some of this extra pressure that some people perceive you to be under?
Bowden: Two weeks ago, he helped me correct my hook on the golf course. (laughing) Uh...no, I've always talked very confidential and personal with him. If you look at what he's done with the media this year he's changed and that's after 50+ years as a coach. Nah, there's nothing that I've done this year, or nothing I've talked about with him, that I haven't done the last 26 years.

Is more of the talk this season about how you lost some of those games last year? Maybe some people would have taken 7-5 had you not lost in such dramatic fashion last season?
Bowden: No doubt its causing me concern. You play on national television and lose to N.C. State like that and then do the same thing in the bowl game. However, 7-5 isn't really going to cut it here regardless. How you lost is important, but 7-5 isn't going to cut it no matter what way you look at it. You know we finish the end of the year winning 3 out of 4 with a freshman quarterback and then we lose the bowl game and everybody thinks the wheels have come off and we are way off track, when in reality we've accomplished some positive things. I know the media perception, the magazine perception, and the Internet perception is going to be 'boy you are way far off.' I think we know what went wrong and I think you'll see improvement this year.

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