Tigers Return to Practice

CLEMSON – When Tommy Bowden was on the cusp of being fired two after a loss to Wake Forest two years ago, there were several current and former football coaches he looked towards for guidance with his situation.

Last year, Bowden even called several coaches throughout the country in the middle of the season trying to find if there were ways his defense might create more turnovers.

But what Bowden is going through now after another loss to the Demon Deacons, there's no one he can turn to for help.

This time, he's on his own.

The Tigers are in the midst of one of the strangest and oddest runs of all time. Four of the five games this season have been decided on the last play of the game, and the other wasn't determined until the last minute or so.

Unfortunately for his sake, Clemson has lost the last three and he's trying on his own to devise ways to keep his team's spirits at a high level.

"I don't know who to call," Bowden said. "I can't call a head coach that has experienced it before. I don't think anybody has ever gone through it where five (outcomes) were (decided) on the last play of the game. It's not like you can call a bunch of guys and say, ‘Hey, remember when this happened to you?' "

His first step Tuesday, which was the first day of practice since the Wake Forest loss, was to have a long meeting and discussion with his team. His main objective to make sure they realize they are close to turning this situation around for the good.

"I told them that it's three plays," Bowden said. "They're the same team that was 2-0. We're trying to find ways on the coaching staff to somehow make a difference a small area. …

"I did not want them to feel like they weren't close because they're close to getting it done. … I don't want them to feel bad, but we still can't be complacent sitting here at 2-3."

The other main aspect of Bowden's doings is to seek out individuals that will be team leaders. There's still seems to be some question as to who they are.

"In the past, there's been a core of guys on this team that would not let us falter down the end – winning four out of the five, and five out of the six," he said. "We've got to find a core of guys out there that say, ‘Hey, we're going to find a way not to lose this close one.'

"We've worked too hard from a conditioning standpoint just to get the point across that it's going to cost you. You're going to have to experience a little bit of pain, and we have been."

His final task is to drill into them that just because the ACC title game is out the window doesn't mean that the season is over. A lot of good and bad things can happen between now and the end of the season and he wants to make sure only the positives take place.

"I've got to make sure they see the things we talked about," he said. "If you look at how we've lost those games and what they've done, I can't let them hang their heads. There's too much football. There's six games left."

Quick hits
Tight end Cole Downer was on the field doing some running. He is attempting to make a comeback after sustaining an emergency spleen removal three games ago. The doctors will evaluate him at the end of October and check is progress. … The Tigers will hold a scrimmage Wednesday, where there will be captains and all the extras just like in a game. Bowden said he will likely do it in an overtime format. … Clemson will practice Wednesday, then again on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, before flying to Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday.

CUTigers.com Top Stories