Bowden Previews Spring Practice

Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden met with the media today to talk about spring practice. Here's a look at some of his opening comments. <BR>

For the full audio from Tuesday's press conference, please click here.

For video highlights from Tuesday's press conference, please click here.

What parts of your team are you really looking at hard this spring?
Bowden: Finding the top 11 guys on offense and then the next best 11. Same thing defensively. From a personnel standpoint, making sure we are getting the best guys on the field. Especially with new coordinators, it might take a little bit longer than normal because these guys are a little unfamiliar. That's good and that's bad. That's good because if there is a guy that has been discouraged, it's kind of a new light for that type of case. Then, it's going to be understanding schemes. Understanding offense and defense. That's pretty much normal, but it's unique because we are changing some terminology. And then leadership. Defining who's going to be in the leadership roles. Based on the finishing up our next to last 5:30 in the morning workout, you can see some of the chemistry and morale and personality of the team starting to gel a little bit.

Will the changes in coaches, terminology, etc, allow you to get into light scrimmaging quicker this spring? How does that work?
Bowden: I don't think it will be that much different from a scrimmage standpoint. We'll have three full scrimmages. We'll utilize those three pretty much on the same time frame as we've done in years before. It might get us a little later in situational scrimmages, but it really won't affect us.

Do you start any differently in terms of how you approach the first couple of days of spring practice with so many new faces, ideas?
Bowden: Not really, other than the fact that I'm sure there will be a lot of teaching involved. But that's normally the case because you've got redshirt freshmen coming in. Let's say that if this is a normal scenario, and we weren't replacing coordinators, we would have usual turnover as far as starters and redshirt freshmen. Pretty much, you are going to go fairly slow anyway. We'll probably go a little bit slower (this year) because of the new terminology.

Will you have more meeting time with your team this spring?
Bowden: Well, you know, four hours a day, is four hours a day. Most of the time, it's usually been one and three. One hour of meeting time, and three hours of practice. That's pretty much what we'll have going into spring. That may change after two days of practice. But for now, we are going to go into the spring with the normal (schedule).

The back up quarterback position...is that pretty much wide open for you this spring?
Bowden: No, it's Will's to lose. It's not wide open. He's been here too long and done too much. He's established a little bit of credibility.

Will you be conducting your Saturday scrimmages and the Spring game in Death Valley this year?
Bowden: We need to do our Saturday scrimmages in there. We get the best film (from that). We'll probably do the same thing we did last year. Right now, the spring game and the Saturday scrimmages are planning to be in there.

Roman Fry is in there at center for you on the depth chart behind Dustin Fry. What's the reason there?
Bowden: Well we lost Tommy Sharpe, an experienced guy. Dustin has played some. And we just want to make sure we go in there with two or three steady guys. Clint LaTray hasn't played much and is kind of untested and Roman has been in the heat of battle, even though it's not as a center. So, if there is one position you don't want to be caught short on, it's center. You'd like to get four guys in there, and we'll work four in the spring. You know, when you've got first and goal at the one, that center-quarterback exchange is awfully important. Sometimes you have a hard time making six inches if you don't have the snap up there. He's (Roman) a guy we kind of like that's moved around and we like what he's done athletically to give him a chance to play that position.

What about Bobby Hutchinson?
Bowden: He'll get a little bit of center, but initially (this spring) he'll be at guard. He'll get some center work. He might be the fourth guy at center.

With some of the changes you are talking about at the line of scrimmage, does that mean you are going to get away from having the quarterback walk up to the line and look back to the sidelines for the play?
Bowden: Well, that will change some. But what I was talking about was the 'down, set, blue 88, blue 88 hike!'. (the cadence) That terminology will be something else. (Charlie) He'll be schooled to operate more at the line of scrimmage as far as receiving information late from the sideline. But I was talking more about the verbiage used, that the centers and guards and everybody's going to have to learn, and the timing of the cadence.

You've got four wides charted out, but that looks a little thin. Does that mean that some of your incoming freshmen will have a chance to play early?
Bowden: I think we are going to do that anyways because we signed some guys that we are really pleased with from a talent standpoint. Those guys will get an early look in August, regardless. We'll be utilizing the tight end a little bit more, and the two-back set a little more. It does look a little thin initially. But again, you go back to the analogy you only have one ball. I know Rob had a guy with 100+ catches, something like that. So if one guy becomes the major producer, we can feature one guy, like we've done in the past.

Will you look at moving any other players over to wide receiver this spring because you may thin there? There has been some talk that Sergio Gilliam could move over to offense?
Bowden: That's Sergio talking again. (laughing) Nah. He needs to stay at corner. That's something we would surely entertain if the numbers got so thin that we had to. But at this point in time, we would not anticipate doing that.

Have you noticed a change in Kelvin Grant this offseason?
Bowden: Yeah. Probably the biggest change, is that we meet with the academic support staff once a week and they give me a list of guys that are showing good academic improvement, and his name was on there. So that's improvement.

What's the point in Bobby Williamson moving back to offense? And could he move back to defense at some point?
Bowden: The need is going to increase over there and other than Bobby, we don't have a starter at tight end. Zach Green, or Thomas Hunter or Cole Downer really haven't started at tight end. We are planning on, at times, that being a pretty important piece of the offense. He wouldn't have been starting over there (defense) but they roll so much he was kind of a starter, but on offense, he would truly be a starter from day one.

If the other guys step up that you mentioned, is there a chance he could go back to defense?
Bowden: He could.

Are you comfortable with the defensive line right now?
Bowden: Yeah right now. The numbers, and if we stay injury free, which is going to important, and with a freshman or two going in there, I think we can plug the holes that we might have. But we have to see how we are coming out of the spring how much help we are going to need from freshmen.

So in summary, what would be some of your goals for spring practice this year.
Bowden: Well, number one, an established depth chart going into August. Number two, would be an understanding of the offensive and defensive schemes and how much progress we can make in 15 days, and number three, leadership. Those are the three keys.

With two new coordinators, how confident are you that you can achieve those goals?
Bowden: Oh, they're both proven and experienced guys at that I-A level. So I don't have any reservation in that regard at all. Both of them have a track record.

You've got wide receivers titled "A" and "W" now. Is that what "H" and "Y" used to be?
Bowden: Yeah, you're right. That's just the terminology changing. Some of that verbiage will be changing.

Are there any players that will have to miss spring for any reason?
Bowden: Academically no. Physically no. Littleberry is suspended this spring. Everybody else should be here.

Will Littleberry be back in the fall?
Bowden: Yes, if he handles himself appropriately. I anticipate him being back.

How much is lost when you don't have the bowl practices in December?
Bowden: I don't think it's that much. Surely, we would have liked to have had it. But in this particular case we would have doing something different on both sides of the ball anyway. It keeps you more in tune than when you go without it.

How do you try and rebuild the confidence of Charlie Whitehurst this year? Does it help that he's learning something entirely new?
Bowden: If you look at Rob's (Spence) background, in this particular case, with going to a new place and having a senior, or going to a new place and having a freshman, he's always had immediate productivity with passing percentage and completion percentage, and completion ratio. He's a fifth year senior, and a stable guy. He's pretty level headed and constant. I would be disappointed if he doesn't have a productive year.

Will you do much with special teams during spring?
Bowden: We always do field goal and punt protection every single day year round. The first day, the very first thing we will do is field goal and extra point, the second thing we will do is punt pro. That will pretty much stay the same every day of spring and fall. I think we've had one field goal or extra point blocked in six year, and we've had one punt blocked in the same time span.

What will the new uniforms look like this year?
Bowden: It will be a dumbed down version of what we had. It's not going to be any wild tiger stripes or tiger paws or slashes. No psychedelic stripes or anything. It will be very generic type uniforms It should be new material. It's a little bit lighter in terms of weight. The uniform itself will be fairly generic.

But you talked about before you like the Miami Hurricanes or Denver Broncos look. Is that out now?
Bowden: Yeah. I don't have any of that stuff the Denver Broncos have on it.

Who are some of the players that have stood out in your offseason workouts, condition, etc?
Bowden: I'll throw some guys out there: Sergio Gilliam, Tye Hill, Chansi Stuckey, Chip Myrick, Trey Tate, Stephen Furr, Cole Chason, Kyle Browning, Roman Fry, Jamaal Fudge. Those would be some guys that kind of jumped off the radar in terms of weight and early morning conditioning. Charlie Whitehurst- I'll throw his name in there.

Who would be some of the guys you may set the bar higher for this spring?
Bowden: Anthony Waters would be in that position because of losing Leroy Hill. Trey Tate, Charles Bennett, and Tye Hill. Chip Myrick, Nathan Bennett, Dustin Fry. Kelvin (Grant).

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