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Opening statement from Coach Bowden about the Clemson fans at Duke.
Bowden: Coming from 1-four and all a sudden to win four in a row, is kind of critical to have support. You never know what you are going to get going on the road. All of a sudden, you come out before the kickoff and see 10-12 thousand fans in orange. I was amazed and shocked. I had coached at Auburn, and travelled to Oxford, and some arenas that would similar as far as size of the stadium. After the game, after we lost, usually I hurt for the players. But I had a kind of unique feel after the game that I had really let a lot of people down. Going, my initial thought was, I don't want to say disbelief, at the outcome.
Can you talk about your clock management against Duke on Saturday, particularly the timeouts at the end of the game?
Bowden: I think we did a have a timeout or two. I looked at the flag, and saw the wind was at his back. I was trying to time it. I knew he had the wind at as a back. I wasn't trying to really ice him.
Can you compare the emotions of how you feel this week to a year ago?
Bowden: There was a lot more at stake professionally last year. Those things were at stake (last year). It's an important game anyway. Whatever is on the table adds to the significance of it. Last year, it was job security. This year it's a bowl game.
How important is the bowl game streak to you?
Bowden: More so for the players. I'll have another opportunity, the seniors won't. They enjoy it. I've been to a bunch, and hopefully go to a few more. It's their last opportunity.
You have a 4-1 record against Lou Holtz. Where does that rank on your list of accomplishments?
Bowden: If you look at Coach Holtz, as far as where he ranks, not just with modern history, but all-time, he ranks very high. All time, he's top 10. I think that speaks volumes more about him, not me.
Have you thought about the fact that this may be the last time you face Coach Holtz?
Bowden: The biggest thing is facing South Carolina. I have not thought about facing him the last time. To the best of knowledge, I'm playing South Carolina again.
Can you speak about trying to figure your kids out with the inconsistency of this team?
Bowden: If you just look at the way, and I know it's starting to sound like coach speak, there is parity in college football. You look at Maryland, beating Florida State this year, you look at Larry Coker losing to four and four Clemson. When you say "figuring kids out, overachieving, underachieving," I think it's more of the state of college football. Week to week, it's getting a lot more difficult.
Aren't you still somewhat surprised by the fact that your team needs to win this game to become bowl eligible?
Bowden: Did I anticipate more? Yes. Surprised.
Did you see this offense struggling like it has before the start of the season?
Bowden: No, I didn't. One of the things that makes that so difficult is turnovers. We were leading the nation at one point with 14 giveaways. I was surprised that we have struggled more offensively, and more so than I've been a head coach. We've played good teams, but everybody's played good teams. Road games against tough defenses, but turnovers didn't give us a chance to win those games. We've broken in some young tackles. I knew that would be a problem, along with the schedule.
Don't you think it's more than turnovers though?
Bowden: Offensively, if you look at turnovers, losing two good tackles, playing pretty good teams, we had some drops early, and Charlie has not performed as good. And he's had some pressure on him. If you look at Miami, that was probably the first really good game he played since Florida State. Those would be the reasons. There hasn't been any consistency.
Are the problems simply a result of when a passing game struggles and you don't have a running game you can depend on.
Bowden: No more so than at any other point that I've been a head coach running a one back offense. I've had two one thousand yard rushers here in Travis Zachery and Woodrow Dantzler. We've had problems, but I don't think it's because of the style of the offense. We have to keep searching to find the answer.
Should Clemson fans assume that it's acceptable to lose to Duke because of the parity in college football?
Bowden: Acceptable? Are you kidding me? No, it's not acceptable. But, is it acceptable for the teams I mentioned not going to a bowl game? (N.C. State). And the other thing, without making excuses, we performed terribly, but I'd hate to disrespect Ted Roof and what he's done.
Back to the offense, what do you do this week to move the ball more effectively?
Bowden: Do you a really think I'll tell you? I've got to find a solution to that problem in three days. After that I have to look for a solution to that problem. The only thing we haven't consistently done is score touchdowns.
Is it especially frustrating this year considering that you are an "offensive guy?"
Bowden: Oh yeah.
Does it surprise you that this offense is ranked 109th in the country right now?
Bowden: It surprises me in a disappointing way.
Does that put more emphasis on Justin Miller and your special teams making a big play Saturday?
Bowden: No doubt. We came close to winning the game on Saturday on defense. On special teams, the kick off and the punt snap, the game doesn't come down to that.
You are 4-2 in those last second games this year. Do you think that this team could have been on the brink of something really bad?
Bowden: Could be worse, could be better. Always see the glass half full. We've sure won our share.
Coach O'Cain said that he took full responsibility for the lack of production offensively against Duke. Should he?
Bowden: No, I think it's what I said. The offense runs through me.
So you don't agree with him?
Coach Lovett also said after the game Saturday that his defense didn't play well enough to win. Would agree with that?
Bowden: I appreciate John saying that, but they played well enough to win. I appreciate the loyalty.
A lot of people say this is the most bitter rivalry in college football?
Bowden: I've had a taste of Auburn and Alabama, that's pretty bitter. The in-state rivalries tend to be like that. Both states don't have pro sports. I would say that would be accurate. Notre Dame-Southern Cal is rivalry where the fans go home and don't see each other the rest of the year. Here, you are side by side.
What did you know of the rivalry before you got here?
Bowden: Didn't know much about it. Never coached in this state. I knew about it. Being involved with FSU-Miami, FSU-Florida. Those are big games. Alabama-Tennessee, Alabama-Auburn. Never had been involved with one as a head coach.
Would you be in favor of brining back a "Big Thursday?"
Bowden: Pretty much, Terry Don has the best feel for that and our Board of Trustees. I've been at Alabama-Auburn, FSU-Florida before Thanksgiving, after Thanksgiving. I would rather those guys come out with those decisions for what's best with Clemson.