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Tommy Bowden Audio (46:24)
How important do you think games like this are for NFL scouts?
Bowden: I don't think there is any doubt that they put more weight on these kinds of games. How they perform in games like this goes a lot further in games like this versus players they know could be drafted.
Were you able to pick up anything from the UNC game?
Bowden: We've got a lot of tapes, they've got a lot of ours. The thing you don't want to do is try to do too much. Yeah, there's a little bit in everything. Obviously, Louisville had some success, N.C. State had some success, North Carolina had some success. You take a little bit from all of those games.
What differences have you seen in Miami the last three games?
Bowden: Well I would say the biggest thing is that I don't know if Louisville has ever beaten Miami. A lot of times when that happens, you don't get their best shot. N.C. State walked in at a 4-3 record? Same thing with North Carolina. They (Miami) probably saw the Louisville film and said well they lost 34-0. I think they may have played down to the competition. But, we'll get their best effort. We'll get their full attention.
How much have you seen of Devon Hester?
Bowden: He really is. We've talked a lot about what we are going to do in the special teams. The plan is not to kick it to him. If he shanks one and it goes to him, it wasn't by design. It's a catch-22. Do you want to put it in his hands? Or kick it out of bounds. He presents a lot of problems, only because he's really really good. I think he's got four returns (for touchdowns) this year. I think Justin also presents some of the same things to them. I brought in Cole and Jad talked to them yesterday about how important they are this week.
How many times this year have you brought your "A-game?"
Bowden: I'd say, that the way the players have played would indicate that (we've brought it this year). We haven't had a blowout. If you look at our games, every one of them have gone to the last second. Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Maryland, N.C. State. Virginia, A&M, Florida State were six point games late in the 3rd quarter.
From an offensive standpoint, what do you feel like North Carolina did consistently to move the ball on Miami?
Bowden: They ran and threw the ball. #6, their tailback, broke off tackle, made the safety miss, and ran an additional 30 yards. They (Miami) blitzed, and left the tight end free, and he ran 30 yards. It looks like they are giving up more plays of over 20 yards or more, more consistently in the past. They all (Louisville, North Carolina, N.C. State) were up around 200 yards (rushing). I'd say that would be the key.
Chad Scott for North Carolina averaged seven yards per carry against Miami. Does that give you some optimism heading into this game that you can get your ground game going this week?
Bowden: He reminds me of Reggie Merriweather. Their running styles are the same. If Reggie or Duane can do something similar, then we'll have success. But right now our running game has been really bad.
You said your running game has been "really bad" this year. Why do you think that is?
Bowden: Sometimes we haven't gotten a lot of at bats. A lot of them were because of turnovers. If you get another set of downs, you'll get more rushing yardage. You know, we've replaced two very talented fifth year senior tackles in William Henry and Greg Walker. Greg has stayed on with the Giants, and Henry hung on a good bit with Atlanta. So I'd say it would be a combination of those things.
Was there a certain point where you could feel like your defense was turning around?
Bowden: I think it was against Utah State. They were really productive in terms of yardage against Utah State. They did some things that had never been done here against a I-A opponent. They've done it again against Maryland, and then again against N.C. State.
Have you ever though about why your teams seem to catch fire towards the end of the season?
Bowden: No, I coach the same way. I started out undefeated at Tulane, started out 8-0 here. I haven't really changed the mode of operation. I've had some success both ways. It may not have made sense to the fans or the administration. A lot of things go into it as opposed to a coaching style. I haven't really changed like that as a head coach. You can make little bitty changes, but the basics have never changed. I've never started out 1-4. I wish I knew a rhyme or reason.
Can you see improvement ahead, especially in the running game?
Bowden: I can. Again, but I have to solve it in two and half days, or three days. I like to think that we can. We have in the past and will again in the future. There are a lot of things that go into that. Some things you have control over and some you don't. Scheme- that is the thing that you have control over.
A lot of players are mentioning the swagger appears to be back on this team right now. Would you agree with that?
Bowden: Well I think our defense is playing up to the level it was during the last four games of the year, we just haven't matched that offensively. I think eventually it will. If we can just catch fire offensively, I think we will, we'll be a position to do some things down the stretch. Last year we were hitting on all phases. This year we are hitting on two of three.