Bowden Press Conference Notes

CLEMSON - Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden met with the media Tuesday to talk about Saturday's game against No. 9 Florida State.

Why don't you have a special teams coordinator?
Bowden: The NCAA put a restriction on the number of coaches. Most of the programs have gone to putting a particular coach in charge of a particular area. In the pros you have unlimited number of coaches.

The goals for the team this offseason were to win an ACC Championship and challenge for the BCS. Do you re-evaluate those goals now that you've lost three defensive starters for the year and possibly two more against FSU Saturday?
Bowden: Not really. You always try to win the next game. If you win enough of them, you put yourself in a position to accomplish the goals you've talked about, regardless of injuries. You just have the next guy move up. It goes in cycles. It's not so much you reprioritize your goals. The goals are still the same. You just have to find a different way to accomplish it. We have talent. We just don't have experienced talent. Lets see if we can score more points and stay on the field longer.

How great is the difference in speed between BC's defense and FSU's?
Bowden: I don't know. BC is a good team, a top 25 team. FSU is leading the nation in rushing yards (defense). Their run stoppers in the middle are bigger (BC's). Timmons, Geno Hayes and secondary guys ... their linebackers. Those guys are going to be a lot of faster.

Do you get the sense that this is your most confident your team headed to Tallahassee?
Bowden: ... As I explained to the team yesterday after practice. They are only giving up 13 yards rushing. It's tough to have a whole bunch of confidence. You watch them play, against Miami, both defenses are playing at another level. They are playing at a speed that is pretty significant. We think we can win the game. I don't know how confident we are.

Is the talent the gap closing between these two programs?
Bowden: We lost the first five then won two out of three so obviously we go into the game being a little more confident as opposed to 0-5. Not a lot of people go in there and win. As far as the invincibility of beating them here, we've done that. But we haven't beaten them in Tallahassee since 1989. We recruited Geno Hayes. Lawrence Timmons. I think we are closing the gap. When I first came here we had to play perfect (to beat FSU). Now we don't have to play perfect.

How is the attitude of this team after the loss to Boston College?
Bowden: Well, we had a pretty good practice yesterday. I think they bounce back faster than coaches do. Nobody goes through a whole career undefeated. Bouncing back from losses is something this team has done well in the past. I think we'll go down there and play well and play hard. I think when they put things in perspective of where we are in the course of the season and the injuries we've dealt with. Offensively I think we are pretty good right now. I think defensively we are trying to fill some gaps and holes due to injury.

This will be the eighth game where you face your dad on the field. Has the luster sort of worn off the fact that this is a father vs. son matchup?
Bowden: I think the great indicator of that was Sunday at the press conference none of y'all asked me about Florida State. Nobody asked me about Florida State. So I'd say yes. When they won the first five, it wore off pretty quick. So yes it has.

Looking at the film of the Troy game, what do you think happened to Florida State?
Bowden: Had some turnovers. Football is a game of motion, energy, intensity and enthusiasm. There is so much parity now in college football if you don't play that way you are going to be in trouble. Oklahoma-UAB. Montana STate-Colorado. Florida State was coming off their most emotional game of the year. And we've had that problem here in the past and that's what I talked to my team against Florida Atlantic. But emotion. I think that was the key against Troy. But they are struggling to run the football (on offense).

Why don't you have more juniors and seniors that are contributing?
Bowden: More so than anything we've discussed in the last three years. We've got a little thing called the WestZone. Our talent has been elevated since we built that building. I don't know any other way to say it. When I came here we didn't walk (recruits) into the locker room. We had two freshmen that set records that haven't been set in 100-something years. To me it's pretty obvious. We play the best players.

How does Jeff's situation affect you?
Bowden: Any time family is criticize it bothers you. It hurts. I don't like to be criticized. But everybody in this profession sometimes is going to get it.

Is this more of a rivalry now?
Bowden: I don't think we used to have their attention. I think we have their attention now. I think it will be a very intense physical game that both teams think they can win. I think our players felt like we had to play perfect. If we turn it over one time we ain't going to win the game. Now, we don't have to play that way. We have to play better than we did last week, but we don't have to play perfect.

Does this team have the best chance to win in Tallahassee of any of the teams you've taken there?
Bowden: I don't know. With defense being a priority and injuries. I think it's the best offense I've taken.

Does Gaines have to practice this week to play?
Bowden: No. I don't have the Bill Parcells rule.

You are 0-1 in the ACC. How much do you try to sell your team that Florida State still won the conference last year at 8-5?
Bowden: A whole bunch. It's the sport of football. Losing is part of this game but you better not let it hurt you. I talked before about ranked teams falling early. It really helps. Everybody wants to see light at the end of the tunnel.

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