TOURE FRANCIS: Finding an Identity

Former Tiger cornerback Toure Francis talks with the current team about the addition of offensive coordinator Rob Spence. <BR>

The fourth offensive coordinator in Tommy Bowden's tenure, Rob Spence, appears to be establishing an offensive personality for the Tigers, who at times last year, appeared to lack a consistent direction.

Spence brings much success from the Mid-American Conference and from a Toledo offense that never ranked less than 13th nationally in total offense in his four seasons there.

Aided by a middle screen pass, his quarterbacks were ultra-successful, breaking the conference single-season completion percentage record during his first three seasons there.

Spence, who employs a one-back spread offense, has been given complete control by head coach Tommy Bowden.

Offensively, the Tigers finished the season ranked 10th in the ACC and 110th nationally in 2004.

And while Clemson has put together several impressive wins during the past two seasons, the offense has not holistically adopted a team identity, which has been a major cause for the fluctuation of success.

In talking to several guys on the team in recent days, last season's success, in particular, could have been much greater had different elements of the team come together at critical times during the season.

"Honestly, to me, we could've won 10 games last year. The only game we really lost last year was the Texas A&M game," says senior wide out Curtis Baham.

As crazy as it sounds, the point isn't so far fetched.

"Look at every game last year, regardless, we had an opportunity to win every one. Just look, you can name a bunch of 'one plays' that directly affected the outcome. Look at me, I drop one in the back of the end zone the Georgia Tech game. Now think, how many did we lose by? And I'm just speaking from the offense, I know the defense has a bunch too."

The Tigers can be inspired to defeat anybody, as proven during the last two years by wins over No. 6 Tennessee, No. 3 Florida State, and No. 10 Miami. At the same time, there have also been tremendously disappointing defeats.

Now, with Rob Spence added to the equation, the Tigers are hoping to learn more, and most importantly, win more in the coming seasons.

"He's not going to put up with a lot of stuff. It's his offense so he knows what every position is supposed to be doing. He knows the steps and procedures of every position on every play," explains senior RB Kyle Browning.

"Everybody's upbeat and eager to learn. Everyone has a new shot to show the coach what they're made of and people who haven't been playing can see new opportunity.

"Right now we're just learning how to line up, it's a long time before we'll work on perfecting a game plan. Everyone is trying to learn the offense and his role."

Both Baham and Browning agree coach Spence is a player's coach who demands much of his players.

"This offense helps us get on the same page. With this offense, the quarterbacks and the receivers will know exactly what's going to happen during the play," added Baham.

"We're improving everyday, and installing something new everyday. It's tailored to players who can learn the packages and the offensive concept of the team." Both players spoke of assignment and alignment, and that Charlie was coming along well with coach Spence.

And what about Charlie? How is the Tigers' senior quarterback handling the change?

"Charlie looks like he's catching on pretty well, and once he gets it (offense) down, his leadership will continue to come through," said Browning. Top Stories