More with Coach Bowden (Part I) spent more time with head coach Tommy Bowden Monday afternoon at the 2003 ACC Kickoff, and we've captured some of the highlights in this first part of an extensive Q&A session. Another must read for the true Clemson fan!

Are you anywhere near where you'd expected you'd be at this point at Clemson?
Bowden: Well, you always want more wins under you belt, and this is no different. Had we won the bowl game with a freshman quarterback then we would have felt like we were making some pretty good strides. We would have won 4 out of 5 with a freshman quarterback and another outstanding freshman on the other side of the ball and you'd probably feel pretty good. But after that bowl game it really puts you in a negative mood for the whole spring up until you play again. Had we finished a little bit stronger I would feel like we'd be much closer, but to answer your question, you'd always like to have more wins.

Bottomline- is there a greater sense of urgency for you this season?
Bowden: Well, last year I was on the hot seat, this year I'm on the hot seat, but I've only made one adjustment- I've added a machine gun on my pontoon boat this summer(laughing). In this profession, when you win a lot of games you are rumored to leave; when you lose a lot of games you are rumored to leave. Its just something you learn to accept- its the nature of the profession. You can't let it affect the way you prepare. You just continue to emphasize the positive and go to work.

What does Clemson have to do jump back ahead of Maryland, Virginia, N.C. State?
Bowden: You have to start beating those teams, that's pretty obvious. Our second year, we beat those teams and we were the team to beat. Now that they've beaten us last year those teams are the teams to beat. It's directly associated with winning.

What does it take to beat those teams though, is it recruiting, coaching, or all phases of the game?
Bowden: Well, you've just got to beat those teams. We have to run the ball better. We worked on that this spring. If I had to nail it down to one thing, that would probably be it right now.

Do you think that FSU, Maryland, N.C. State, and Virginia all have better talent than Clemson?
Bowden: They have similar talent. You'd have to look at the draft the last 4 or 5 years to see which team had the most talent. I'm not sure which one off of the top of my head has had the most players drafted. But I'd say that those teams all have similar talent.

But when you look at those teams, do you feel as though Clemson can compete?
Bowden: Yes.

Can you explain the benefits of having a strong running game and how that could get you into the upper half of the conference again?
Bowden: Well, the benefits of a strong running game will put you in the upper half of the conference. We have to win the game, but we are still going to continue to be no-huddle, shotgun, and 3 or 4 wide outs. We just are making the I-formation a bigger part of the offense. Success in running the football will get us into the upper half of the conference.

Can the same 5 offensive lineman block for the spread offense and then switch over to a power running game out of the I-formation?
Bowden: Yeah, I don't think that's going to be a problem. Execution is the key. They have to be pretty smart. If you ask them to do too much and they get confused then you are in trouble. We have to be careful, but execution is the key.

Can you talk about Charlie Whitehurst's development as a quarterback?
Bowden: Well he's only a sophomore quarterback and he's got 4 or 5 starts already under his belt. He has tremendous potential, but it's all going to be how serious he is about his development. He's a very serious player, and with his background with his dad he has a lot going for him. He has the physical skills. I would think he would continue to improve as he gets more experience.

Are you a different coach now than what you were at Tulane?
Bowden: I don't think so. I think sometimes when you lose that last game like we did last year, you might have the tendency to overturn every stone and criticize yourself a little more. You know at Tulane, it was bam, bam, then at Clemson it was bam, bam, all of a sudden you hit this and then things kind of leveled off. The only thing is that you might research things a little more and not leave any stone unturned now. That might be the only difference.

Had you lost that game by a point against Texas Tech, would the perception in the media be different?
Bowden: I think so, and I think mine would be too. I might not have done as much research it as much as I'm doing. If you had to find something positive to come out of that, it's that we have analyzed things as much as we did.

You've talked about how UGA has done a good job of keeping some of the top high school players in the state of Georgia to stay in state in the past. Does that make the season opener that much more important in terms of recruiting?
Bowden: If we beat them, it will make recruiting easier. Right now, with the success they've had and we're so close (distance-wise) it's important for us to do well there. You look at Georgia the last 4 years; they've had 14 guys drafted. I think I did a study at Tulane trying to figure out which states produced the most NFL talent it went something like Florida, California, and Texas, and then Georgia was like 4th or 5th based on population and the number of players in the NFL. South Carolina was high, but you've got only 3 or 4 million instead of 7 or 8 million. There's no doubt if you beat them, it makes it a lot easier to recruit there. So yeah, it's important. Top Stories