Tommy Bowden Press Conference

Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden met with the media this morning for his weekly regular season press conference. The main topic of discussion today: the upcoming season opener against Wake Forest.

Is revenge a good motivator for you in this game?
Bowden: Well, when you talk about the word revenge when you are coaching a sport out there on the field, there are so many other things that are factors. To accomplish the things you want to accomplish, you can't just start fast, you have to finish fast. A couple of years ago, we started fast but didn't finish. Surely, with what happened last year, and really the last two years, our players have tremendous respect for them, but revenge isn't really one of those.

Have you done anything different this year when it comes to preparing for Wake Forest?
Bowden: There's been nothing done differently as far as preparations. But as far as Wake, instead of three days, we've had an extended period of time to prepare. Conversations have been little bit different with the team because of preseason ranking, but as far as preparation, nothing has been different than we've had more time.

Is the message the same this year as it was before the 2000 season when there were high expectations?
Bowden: Yeah, it would be similar from a coaching standpoint. This year's team has done nothing yet. The good teams, the teams that finished ranked in the top five or top ten start fast and finish fast. Those are things we talk about, the things we haven't done.

Haven't you traditionally wanted to open against a team where you could get the kinks out, as opposed to opening with a team like Wake Forest?
Bowden: To be honest with you I'd prefer that because of the unknowns. In our case, that would be on the offensive line and with position changes. With a team like Wake Forest, there's little margin for error.

Are you surprised that your game is not a sellout as of today? It was mentioned that they are expecting 75,000-76,000 right now.
Bowden: It will be by game time. I didn't know that until you just mentioned. It's not something I'm thinking about.

What is your relationship with Jim Grobe like?
Bowden: Wake Forest, with their academic restrictions and the size of their enrollment, there are some significant hurdles. You have to respect the job that he's done there, not just against us, but against the rest of the league. I've spent some time with his and a wife, and he's a really humble person. I might respect that more than anything.

You've said that you've said all summer that you have been prepare for Wake Forest
Bowden: I don't think you can ever tell until you get to full speed with live bullets. You can't go out and mimic that in practice. I don't know, we'll find out.

Wake Forest is going from a 3-3-5 defensively to a 4-3 this year. How do you prepare for that?
Bowden: Well, the 4-3 is pretty common, but how much will they actually use it? They might see us in some personnel groupings where they go back to that 3-3 because they feel more comfortable. This year they've got more flexibility with the 4-3. The question is, how much are they going to use it? That's one of the biggest things.

Do you have confidence in your running game at this point with Duane Coleman out? Have you figured out your situation at running back yet?
Bowden: I'm more interested in scoring than I am running. Whether it's by running, I don't know? I don't know how many guys they'll load up in there. If I can win the game by throwing for 300 and running for 85, then I'll be happy. I don't have a set number of yards in this first game in order for us to be successful

Will Yusef Kelly start for you Saturday?
Bowden: Yusef will probably start, but we'll play numerous tailbacks. All three will probably play in the first half.

Are you seeing a big difference in Yusef Kelly this preseason than in year's past?
Bowden: I think the fact that he stayed healthy has been big. This year, he hasn't sustained the same injuries and missed all that practice time. So he's been around the team and in there. All of that has gone in to making his performance a lot more productive than what he was last year at this time. He worked this hard this summer...and I think he would also tell you that.

What would be your level of interest in watching Texas A&M and Utah play?
Bowden: It would high and I'd want our players to watch it too because A&M is our third game of the year. That's a team that we also went out and visited (Utah), and there are some relationships there, so there would be an interest in several ways. We went out there and looked at a couple of things during the off-season.

Can you say this team is worthy of a top 20 ranking right now?
Bowden: That's not been a constant home for us, so I don't know if I could make that evaluation at this point. After last season, I think you could say that because we were playing as good as anybody in the country, that we were. But as of right now, no I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that. That was last year's team, and this game hasn't played a game yet. That doesn't mean anything to Wake Forest. They are still mad about the game they lost to us two years ago.

Was that loss to Wake Forest last year your most humbling loss as a coach?
Bowden: yeah, it's a humbling profession, but again. That game and the N.C. State game on a Thursday night was pretty humbling.

Entering your sixth year, how have you improved or changed since you first got here?
Bowden: Well, I think you learn. It's hard to name specifics. Dealing with coaches, players, media, the administration. I've got a sense of humor, sometimes that may not be the best way to go. That's just kind of my personality. The situation I went through last year with my job on the line, it's the first time I've ever been through that. Hopefully, I've learned some X's and O's along the way. I think you learn through all of those things, and hopefully become a better head coach.

Does the fact that you may get less touches of the ball offensively against Wake Forest make you prepare any differently?
Bowden: They are very similar to a wishbone team. I want to say 9 or 10 or so instead of 12 or 13. It really doesn't affect you. They play a bend but not break defense. Our first drive last year was 14 plays and no points. Our second drive last year was 13 plays and no points. It goes back to defense and how strong you are on defense.

Why has Wake Forest had so much success against Clemson the last few years?
Bowden: We need to find an answer to that pretty soon. I hope we find it this year. They've rushed for over 600 yards in two games so we've got to find a way to stop the run. We haven't lit up the scoreboard offensively either. Why? Well they've got a pretty good scheme but it shouldn't be that good. It's not that good against everybody else.

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