Bowden Press Conference Notes

CLEMSON - Head coach Tommy Bowden met with the media Tuesday morning to discuss Saturday's season opener against Florida Atlantic.

All due respect to Florida Atlantic, this is not an opener against a nationally ranked team or conference team. What do you hope to get from this game besides a "W?"
Bowden: The biggest concern I have is the number of young people we are going to have a playing. I think I counted 19 freshmen (true and redshirt) playing in this game. Those are significant question marks ... a lot of inexperience in the game. Whether we opened up with Florida State or Boston College, we'd still play those 19. How much will that experience factor cost us? We have a new punt formation? I know there is a lot of hype but there are 22 guys that are going to play. There's plenty to be learned and plenty to be accomplished.

Would you rather open with a Florida Atlantic as opposed to a nationally ranked team?
Bowden: There's pros and cons. With 19 freshmen probably going to play in this game. Probably six sophomores on defense. Hopefully there's going to be a little more room for margin of error. Hopefully it would be more deadly against Florida State or Texas A&M as opposed to Florida Atlantic. But the players need to feel that same sense of urgency.

Does the fact that this year your team is being mentioned more as a ranked program with a lot of potential help motivate your players more for this game?
Bowden: I think that will some of a motivating factor but that stuff usually ends at the first collision. Yeah, some of that preseason hype will benefit them but only until the ball is snapped.

What is your anxiety level going into a season opener typically?
Bowden: I get a little antsy. Inexperience at quarterback. A lot of new guys playing. Are they going to be motivated? We are playing a team where the media has projected us to win. Those things cause anxiety.

You've said you may take more shots downfield this year. Is that a byproduct of how good your running game is or because you are now in year two of Rob Spence's tenure here at Clemson?
Bowden: I think it's a year into (system). I think it's a better understanding of what kind of coverage determines the downfield throw.

Did anything surface during the preseason that eases your concerns about any potential problems that this team may have this year?
Bowden: The things that this program has traditionally done well here in the past. They usually work very hard. I think they have a lot of confidence. We are relatively healthy. Having five starters back on your offensive line is a comfort zone I haven't had since I've been here. But the guy stepping under center has the least experience of any of our starters on offense.

Did the loss of Tramaine Billie hurt you?
Bowden: Well yeah because you can't replace his speed. It's a game of speed and quickness. He was a 100 meter track champion. That hurt us a little bit. Plus you are replacing a senior with a sophomore.

Is Antonio Clay showing you want to see right now as Billie's replacement?
Bowden: No. We expect him to improve.

On a scale of one to 10, what's your confidence level in either Cullen Harper or Tribble Reese going in if Will Proctor was injured?
Bowden: I don't know if I could put a number on it. Depends on the score of the game when they go in. If it's a 30-point game then the confidence level would be high.

What kind of role do you expect C.J. Spiller Saturday?
Bowden: He's adapted well and his role will be significant.

How close to the vest are you going to play this game Saturday?
Bowden: Really not. My biggest concern is the amount of young guys we are going to have on the field. We aren't holding anything back. I'm not holding back any defensive formations or calls. We are pretty much going in with everything we need to win the game.

What kind of impact do you think the West Endzone will provide for you Saturday?
Bowden: I think it will be great for the fans. It's great to see. I think it will be a great experience for the fans. I think it's very fan friendly. From our perspective, we've still got work to do. From a a football perspective.

Has Tramaine Billie decided whether or not he is going to redshirt?
Bowden: Not to my knowledge. The last time I talked with his parents, they said there was no hurry. They've got four or five months. I advised them not to rush the decision.

Coach Schnellenberger has done this a couple of times. He's built a couple of programs up from scratch, like what he's trying to do with Florida Atlantic. Would that be something that would ever appeal to you?
Bowden: If I was 70-something years old and they were paying me a couple hundred thousand dollars to move to Florida, I would consider it. (laughing) I think it's the perfect marriage for him. I love the beach. I would strongly entertain that at 70-something years old. Top Stories