Q&A with Tony Elliott

Perhaps there's no better player to speak to about the Clemson football program than wide out Tony Elliot. Tuesday, we sat down with the James Island native to get his thoughts on Coach Bowden, the Florida State game, and a whole host of other topics. A must read!

Is Coach Bowden's future a big distraction for this team right now?
Elliott: I'd be lying if I told you that weren't some players discussing it. You hear little side conversations about it, but I hope it's not a distraction. I hope the guys understand that decision is not for us to make as players, because that's for the administration and his bosses. The only responsibility we have is to go out and play hard and execute because we know coach Bowden is giving us his all. He's put together good game plans, and he takes the heat when we fall short.

Coach Bowden has said after the tough losses that he has felt like he hasn't gotten you guys prepared. Do you agree with that?
Elliott: I don't know if I understand that when he says that. They put together a good plan every week; it just comes down to execution. His job is to motivate and to get us ready to play, but then again a lot of the responsibility of the players is to get yourself ready and motivated. So when he says that, I don't exactly understand that. Maybe that's his way of saying that it's his responsibility as the head coach to take the heat when he says that, but I'm not quite sure.

It seems like that nobody has come out and vocally been that supportive of him though. Is that an accurate statement?
Elliott: I don't understand that either. I don't think it's the player's place to do that. I'm partial to Coach Bowden because he gave me the chance. Maybe the other guys don't see it from my perspective, but if wasn't for Coach Bowden I wouldn't be here right now playing Division I-A college football so I'm upset about it. His track record speaks for itself. He's been on coaching staffs that have been undefeated and he's taken us to four straight bowl games. In my opinion, I think he should be back next year, but that's not for me to decide.

Are the expectations at Clemson too high? Especially with the ACC becoming so much more competitive.
Elliott: Well, I think expectations are really high at Clemson. Even if we weren't in the ACC, expectations would be high. I don't know if they are unrealistic, but they are rather high. A lot of fans don't understand that when you are dealing with college football these days, nothing comes easy. The ACC is growing and it's becoming a tough conference now. 7 or 8 wins isn't a bad season.

Have any of you guys kind of taken Coach Bowden to the side to really offer some support and to tell him that you guys are behind him no matter what?
Elliott: I don't know if anybody has done that, but the only we can do is go out there and play hard and let him know that we aren't going to quit. That's an improvement from last year.

Charlie Whitehurst and John Leake told me that they feel like you guys match up better with Florida State than with Wake Forest. Do you agree with that?
Elliott: I would. Especially from an offensive perspective, Wake Forest would bring two and drop nine, bring three and drop eight, bring 7 play 4. Florida State's motto and mentality is that "we are better than you, so we are just going to line up and come straight at you." So, to me, it's just a question of desire and who wants it more.

What kind of atmosphere are you expecting Saturday night?
Elliott: Oh man, I think it's going to be a pretty good atmosphere- crazy and wild with a lot of people and a lot of excitement. Hopefully, we can feed off that excitement but not allow it to be a distraction, stay focused, and use that excitement to elevate our level of play.

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