Tommy Bowden's Tuesday Press Conference

Listen to Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden talk about this weekend's season opener against 17th ranked Texas A&M.

Tommy Bowden Tuesday Press Conference (40:52)

You are playing more freshmen perhaps more than you ever have before. Is there more of a sense of urgency to have more success quickly by playing these young players?
Bowden: No. 1 there is a sense of urgency to win early any year. We like to win early every year we play. I think the facilities improvement has been very important in the recruiting game. Had we won more, we could have negated (the lack of facilities) a big piece of the recruiting puzzle (earlier).

From a scheme standpoint, is your defense better equipped to handle Reggie McNeal this year?
Bowden: I think we might have been equipped last year but we just didn't tackle. We have to find out if we can tackle better. He's a tough guy to tackle. It's going to come down to numerous guys instead of one. That's going to be instrumental Saturday - how many people we get around the ball. He's going to make some people miss.

How important is it to win the first game of the year?
Bowden: You'd like to win. There's no doubt, the sooner you win, the players buy into what you are doing quicker. The fact that there will be, unfortunately, learning curve with both offensive and defensive systems. So the sooner we show success, by human nature, the players buy into quicker.

With the assistant coaching changes, what is your level of comfort with that headed into this game?
Bowden: I really like the overall plans on both sides of the ball. When they show fruition, there's some uncertainty there. The thing last year, dropped balls, turnovers, and lack of a running game. I feel like we've addressed those things. You know we had only one turnover in three scrimmages. Now, how big is the learning curve? I won't have a good feel for that until after the game.

How do you handle your running game Saturday night?
Bowden: It will be by committee. Then one of them will get a hot hand. One guy usually jumps above the rest. It doesn't bother me, running back by committee. It depends who kind of jumps out at you as to who gets the majority of carries.

You've had big games right away the last couple of years. Do you prefer to start out like that or would rather have a warm-up game before facing nationally ranked opponents?
Bowden: We've had them both and their are pros and cons. The thing about this game is that you get your player's attention pretty good. We are going to be an underdog playing in primetime. We will get a pretty good indication of how good we are right of the bat. When we get the tape on Sunday, we'll know how much improvement we need to make to face BC, Maryland, and Miami on down the road.

Will you script plays ahead of time?
Bowden: He might (Coach Spence). I'll be in there with him and I might have a suggestion.

What do you take from last year's game against Texas A&M?
Bowden: Running game, turnovers, dropped balls, and the quarterback (tackling him). Those are the things.

Did last year's game have a carry over effect?
Bowden: I'd say the Georgia Tech game did more so than Texas A&M.

Do you sense that James Davis is over whatever happened two weeks ago?
Bowden: Yeah I believe so. He's had pretty productive practices and scrimmages. So yeah, I would say. He got a little offended that I used homesickness. But it's always that to an extent.

Does Charlie look better this fall than he ever has before?
Bowden: I don't think there was anything missing from an intangible. I've said it several times. I don't think I gave him a chance to be successful (last year). I think you are going to see more of what he was doing during his sophomore year. ... And the running game should help that. ... That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Would you rather be the underdog or the favorite?
Bowden: You know, I think I'd like to experience them both. I've experienced to much underdog. If you ask most of coaches, they'll tell you they like flying under the radar. I'd like to try the other. If you are the other, that means you are doing pretty good and winning some games.

How comfortable are you with two players who are largely inexperienced competing for the starting cornerback spot opposite Tye Hill?
Bowden: I think the true evaluations will come out of the game. As far as work being done by Chris Clemons, Sergio Gilliam and the young guys ... I feel good about the potential. You'd like to see the performance. That's kind of the feeling you have going in. Haydrian Lewis right now would probably get in before Ray Ray. Top Stories