Bowden Press Conference Notes

CLEMSON - Tommy Bowden met with the media Tuesday to preview Clemson's upcoming game with Wake Forest.

Is there a reasonable explanation for the trouble your teams have had at Wake?
Bowden: A lot of it is their offensive style. It's probably the most unique style in the conference. I think they have led the conference in rushing the last couple of years. It looks like on Saturdays they show up, they play hard and execute. And we don't. That's where Jim Grobe has done a better job than I have in this particular game. To me they execute better. I know he's a Christian man and y'all know I'm a Christian man. He's probably taken me closer to hell than I've ever been in my life. I like the style with which him teams play. I just have a tremendous respect with what he's done.

Does that respect increase this year after losing so many starters to injury? (left tackle, running back, quarterback)
Bowden: I think it just kind of confirms the observations that I have. They are undefeated. There are teams that have played DI-AA teams and lost. I think a couple of indications are the Georgia-Ole Miss game last weekend. Georgia struggled and won 14-9 and Wake Forest goes down there and wins handily. Iowa plays Syracuse and is ranked No. 13 in the nation and Wake beats Syracuse handily. I think those are pretty good indications of what he's done.

Do you anticipate it being difficult to get your team ready to play this year against Wake Forest?
Bowden: No, not this time. I think 5-0 gets your attention. He's (Jim Grobe) got a pretty good idea of how good his team. Those two games (mentioned above) are a pretty good indication of how good his teams are.

Their linemen have a reputation of blocking dirty? Your thoughts?
Bowden: To me his linemen play how I wish mine would play. I know would not coach my team to play dirty and I know he doesn't coach his to play dirty.

Your fans have almost equaled theirs at Groves Stadium. How much of a problem is that lack of a true hostile environment will bother you Saturday?
Bowden: The environment won't be a problem. In the past it probably has been. I'm sure getting up Saturday morning and going out in pre-game and seeing 20,000 and then seeing 28,000. I think they haven't been 5-0 since 1987. So we know its at least the biggest game since '87. I know there is going to be a lot of electricity up there. But I don't care they aren't going to be able to generate the kind of enthusiasm of 80,000 fans when you beat North Carolina by 50.

How much do you talk to your team about the recent struggles against this team?
Bowden: Not a whole bunch. Our seniors have a pretty good grasp on making the underclassmen feel that sense of urgency. I don't think that will as much as a factor as the fact that we've lost two out of three and they are 5-0. I don't think that's as much a factor because of our senior leadership.

Defensively what do they do that can cause you problems?
Bowden: They are No. 1 in the ACC in red zone productivity offensively and defensively. They blitz some but when they do they play more of a zone concept. When they play man they have other guys there in case something happens. They are nationally ranked in sacks and nationally ranked in scoring defense. So they are doing a lot of things right. They are very sound in their scheme. Their gaps are protected. Very sound and they play hard.

Does their style of defense give you the opportunity to take more shots downfield?
Bowden: Yeah if their safeties get involved. They can always outnumber you. We play with 10 they play with 11 because we have a quarterback so they can always outnumber. The backs have to make somebody miss or you challenge them (through the air).

There are some people that are saying the ACC is down as it's been in 25 years or so. What's your take on that?
Bowden: Well I think we've played just about a third of the season. I think the proper evaluation can be made after the season. It's going to be interesting to see how it unfolds in the end. It always goes in cycles anyway.

You talked about the sense of urgency for every game thus far. Is there a different sort of urgency playing Wake Forest this week.
Bowden: No. I think the key is you learn to play each game with an equal amount of urgency. We have not really played our best game offensively, defensively and surely on special teams. Offensively we've had turnovers and big runs called back with holding calls. The challenge is more or less to play our best every week regardless of competition. That's what you shoot for.

How important is your defensive front in stopping their offense
Bowden: I think they only threw five passes against (Ole Miss). If we can run the ball we are going to be successful. If they can run it they are going to be successful. If they can run the ball how they have been ... they are third in the conference in rushing and we are first. If we can't stop them, then it's a challenge. It's quite a challenge for Vic Koenning and our defensive staff.

Is this team better equipped to put teams away this year?
Bowden: The first five games have indicated that. We've scored more than 50 points in back to back games here. We are doing something different. It looks like that would be the demeanor of this team. There's so much football left to be played. That's the thing about coaching.

Do you think your play-calling has been more aggressive in their red zone this year?
Bowden: I don't know. You can ask Rob.

How do you keep James Davis and C.J. Spiller grounded with the kind of success they've had in the early part of their careers?
Bowden: Both of them do a pretty good job of that themselves. Burton Burns, our running backs coach does a good job. It's a high profile position. Both of those guys along with Reggie ... and with Reggie you have a stablizing factor. A lot of C.J.'s and James' ability to be satisfied with no carrying the ball 30 times has to do with their unselfishness.

Any injury updates?
Bowden: I'm hoping. He was gimpy yesterday. Hamlin should be 100%. Tramaine Billie gets his pin out Monday and then we'll have to see.

After the 2003 game against Wake Forest, on the trip back to Clemson did it cross your mind that maybe that was going to be it for you at Clemson?
Bowden: Not so much after the game. I think Jon Solomon called me and asked if I had resigned. It was more so the week that followed and the next. And the next. It was more so the following four weeks.

What did you think of Steve Spurrier's comments about telling the fans not to clap when they lose nationally ranked teams?
Bowden: I've always thought that one of the most underestimated things about him was his ability to motivate. I would watch him lose to Florida State in the past and then usually play the winner of the other division and win the (Championship) game. What he did was not a ploy. I think he truly believes that. And that's going to motivate his team to perform at a higher level.

You mentioned before the start of the season you wouldn't want to see either of your back up quarterbacks in the game. After seeing Cullen Harper and Tribble Reese in there the last two weeks, how much more comfortable are you with their play?
Bowden: Well more so than I was at the beginning of the year. Cullen has gotten some pretty significant playing time. But again, he's just a redshirt freshman. If he were a fourth year junior or fifth year senior I'd feel more comfortable. But there would still be some concern if either him or Tribble had to go in there with the teams on our schedule. Including Wake Forest.

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