Bowden Press Conference Notes

CLEMSON - Head coach Tommy Bowden met with the media Tuesday to preview Saturday's game against Louisiana Tech.

Your offensive line has played together for three or four years. Can you talk about the struggles they went through early and what it means for an offense to have a unit that intact for that long?
Bowden: No doubt. The key to offensive performance is the offensive line. Any efficiency on offense is generated by the offensive line. Defenses now are so complex. It's the only unit in football that really operates as a team within a team. The secondary usually has four guys that operate together. Linebackers is three. The offensive line is five and the point of contact is six inches away. These guys have the experience. Obviously Brad Scott and Paul Hogan have coached them well. But through experience their techniques are good. They make good calls. There's no substitute for experience. And I've got some hard-nosed guys. It's a mean position. It's a nasty position.

When did you start to try and recruit bigger offensive linemen?
Bowden: Well we've always tried to get big fast guys but they end up somewhere else. Some of our younger players honestly are a little more talented than our seniors. Now we are starting to attract a larger big guy with a little more quickness and agility. When we came here we probably averaged 258, 261. Recruiting has been elevated the last few years.

Did you get the number of snaps you wanted out of your younger offensive linemen Saturday against North Carolina?
Bowden: I don't know the exact number of snaps. Thomas Austin played a lot of snaps. Cory Lambert played a lot of snaps. Barry Humphries played a lot of snaps. Jamarcus Grant played a lot of snaps but he's been hurt.

Last week we were talking about getting your team ready for North Carolina and not looking ahead after beating a top 10 Florida State team on the road. Do you have the same problem this week in trying to get your team ready?
Bowden: I hope not. There are plenty of examples from week to week where these guys should learn a lesson. Colorado, there were 0-3 and they almost beat Georgia last week. There's been some I-AA's upsetting I-A's. In the past I haven't done a good job in getting that sense of urgency going from week to week. We will be favored. And we know that we don't actively recruit against those guys so there aren't any bragging rites. But there's plenty to be motivated about.

What is different about this team that has allowed it avoid any of the letdowns in year's past. Is it experience? Is it senior leadership?
Bowden: I think it's a combination of all the things you mentioned. Fifth year seniors. Leadership is pretty good. Past experience. Learning from history. All those things you mentioned are indicators that these guys can reflect back on. We've been able to refer to some of those situations. Because of the experience of the team and the quality of the leadership, more is being absorbed than it has in the past.

Coach what about the fact that this is just a better football team than we've seen in a long time? This season there seems to be even higher expectations that are more realistic.
Bowden: Yeah I think that's the case any year. Right now three wins gets you nowhere. At this point in time we've had three wins before. Three wins doesn't win you anything. That's what you have to make the team realize. We've got a lot of work to do. WE need to improve with our turnovers. We need to improve with our punt return game. Like last year we returned one against Texas A&M and that was it.

Haven't noticed any gadget plays from your offense this year. Any comments on that?
Bowden: I'd say probably more Rob's background and my background in . He's a little more comprehensive in his package and we don't need it as much. If you notice my father's success with all those 10 win seasons, he needed them less and less.

Scoring is up, yards are up. Is that a result of Spence opening it up more?
Bowden: A lot of it is recruiting. C.J. Spiller has the longest receiving touchdown by a back in the history of the school and that was just a pass out in the flat. We've only played four games and we've played three pretty good teams. Two of them are nationally ranked. North Carolina may be nationally ranked by the end of the year. You never know.

The younger players on defense ... are you pleased with what you've seen from them so far?
Bowden: They are making a lot of progress. Six sophomores and freshmen playing that are getting better every week. Especially on the defensive line. Those guys are definitely making improvement and you hope they do. But if they just continue to make improvement. Again- health is the key.

James Davis is second in the ACC rushing. What has he done to improve his game after last year?
Bowden: The biggest thing is he's gotten a little stronger. A year under Joey Batson in the weight room is a big deal. You watch last week's game and you see him running through arms and running over people. He's also anticipating where the holes will be on the defensive front based on alignment.

James went and trained with Jamal Lewis (Ravens) this summer during the first summer session. Does that ever concern you in anyway?
Bowden: I'm just concerned he would come back with gold teeth. (laughing) No, but they have a lot of wisdom those guys that have been at that level and they really helped him out.

Have you been pleased with what you've seen of Rendrick Taylor this year?
Bowden: Yeah I really have. He catches the ball well, practices hard. Good solid citizen academically and off the field. His family obviously did a good job with him. He played as a true freshman and has shown a lot of maturity. Is a tough guy. I'd take a few more of them.

You mentioned you like to run the ball 70% of the time and pass 30% of the time. Can this offense change if you were to recruit a superstar quarterback?
Bowden: When you look at this offense. There was a game earlier where we threw it a whole bunch. 40 times against Boston College. When you have an offensive system that is fairly complex. You still see us in a four receiver set. We have the capability to feature our offense with the skills of a quarterback. Ala Charlie Whitehurst not having the running skills of Will Proctor.

With the complex defensive schemes in college football right now, is it possible to run something like the I-formation and still be successful?
Bowden: I don't know how much Mark Richt at Georgia runs the I but I know he's had a lot of success. Minnesota does. I don't know of any other.

If you were to run the table this year and not make the national championship game, would that push you more towards being in favor of a playoff?
Bowden: No. I'd just be mad I lost the one game. I wouldn't mind a playoff if they could find a way to incorporate the bowls. Again, the student athlete and what we ask them to do academically. Now to encourage more time away from the class and more time possibly for injuries. But those decisions are made by the higher ups. Top Stories