Notebook: Tigers Still Looking to Improve

CLEMSON – While they couldn't be happier with the outcome against Florida State, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden and center Dustin Fry each believe the rushing game has to improve if the Tigers are going to be an elite team. And they said it all starts up front with the offensive line.

To date, the Tigers' rushing numbers are second only to Georgia Tech in terms of yards per game with 162. And truth be told, if it weren't for the scrambling ability of Yellow Jackets quarterback Reggie Ball, Clemson would be tops in the ACC.

All that aside, Bowden said the 151 yards gained against Florida State is a misleading stat.

"I felt like our Boston College game was maybe the best we've played across the board since I've been here," he said. "I did not think in the Florida State game we played that well. … (Only) 85 yards of the 150 was blocking. Now they count it and it goes in the stats that we got 150 yards rushing.

"I thought they knocked us around pretty good up front. I was disappointed in that regard. The 150 yards is a little bit deceiving. It looks good in the conference stats. But how we got those is not indicative of how I think we can play up front."

To get a full grasp of the high standards the offensive line has for it self, Fry, too wasn't satisfied with the 151 yards on the stat sheet.

"I'm disappointed and I think the line as a whole, we're disappointed," he said. "We should have run the ball better against them. The numbers are misleading. I completely agree with (Bowden) and he should be disappointed, because they were a little bit of a tattered d-line and we should have been able to control the ground game a little better, which we didn't."

However, when it came time to make a statement, the entire offensive line was there standing tall and taking control of the situation.

Following tailback James Davis' run to the 4, Bowden had some words of encouragement for the offense.

"Coach Bowden came up to us during the timeout and said, ‘I'm not kicking this ball. Y'all better run it in,' " Fry said. "Had it gotten to fourth down, he would have kicked it, but he did not want to. It was good that we got it in."

Equally as satisfying for Fry were the play selections at the goal line. There were no ‘T' formations this time.

"When he got down there, I was like there's no way we're not going to get this ball into the end zone," he said. "We kind of turned to each other and said let's end the game right here. No more overtimes.

"When I heard that it wasn't a play-action pass or a sweep, I was like, this is what we need. It was nice to hear that."

Bowden Takes Blame
Bowden said it was his fault for the slow kicking times of Jad Dean and that it wasn't discovered until it was too late.

"I think I did a poor job of recognizing earlier and probably not being a little more forceful in forcing a quicker time," he said. "That's kind of my job. You get false impressions. Florida Atlantic's not as talented and doesn't rush as hard. Times aren't good and you don't time them. Just a lack of attention to detail on my part is more or less what it was."

Secondary Surprises Coach Vic
Defensive coordinator and secondary coach Vic Koenning knew he had some talented players in the defensive backfield, but he just figured it was going to take some time for all the youngsters to mature.

Well, it did take some time... exactly one game.

The backfield played so well that by his own admission, Koenning had to become extremely nitpicky while handing out his post-game grades.

"It's probably first time in my coaching career that I can recall playing as many different guys as we played in the game and they all graded 90 percent or higher," he said. "Actually, I was grading guys down for getting too high in the backpedal or stuff that they kind of thought was kind of hard.

"(Cornerback) Duane (Coleman) was about a yard in too far on one of his coverages and I gave him a minus on that. I was having to look to find things that they didn't do right."

Much in the same fashion as Coleman, quarterback Will Proctor and several others were pumped to play in the their home state of Florida, Bowden fully expects North Carolina running back Ronnie McGill, a native of Clover, to have those same feelings.

"I'm sure he's going to be excited to play," Bowden said. "I don't think we did (recruit him) and I'm sure if that's the case, he'll have a little something extra for us just like (former UNC quarterback) Darian Durant did."

Fickle Fans
Fry said he gets a kick out of the immediate reactions many of the fans display following a win and a loss.

He said they are often too ready to overreact.

"After the (Boston College) loss, some fans were already calling for Bowden's head," he said. "I don't know why. But now, Bowden's God. I think we're back to where we were at the beginning of the year or a little higher (in their eyes). It's just funny from one week (to the next) with the sway (of emotions). ‘Oh, this team is awful,' to, ‘Oh, this team is great.'" Top Stories