Bowden Press Conference Notes

CLEMSON - Tommy Bowden met with the media Tuesday to preview Saturday's game between No. 12 Clemson and No. 13 Georgia Tech.

Talk about Calvin Johnson and the problems he might bring with him Saturday.
Bowden: The biggest thing is height speed and size. You don't see a lot of receivers that are that big and that good. When you play against a guy that's going to be a high draft pick, he's going to make some plays. Patrick Nix has done a good job this year of getting him the ball. I think he's been more a factor this year.

And what about Reggie Ball?
Bowden: Very similar. He's a senior. He's a seasoned veteran. There's not much you can throw at him that will rattle him. This is a guy that is probably not going to flinch or rattle. The other bad thing for us is that he's a tailback that's a thrower. HE probably minimizes some of our calls on defense because of our running skills. We have not faced that kind of quarterback so that magnifies the problem.

Is having ESPN's GameDay here at Clemson any sort of distraction for this week?
Bowden: This is going to be a game that's easy to motivate. Whereas Temple you have to find creative ways to motivate. Or a conference team that doesn't have a good record you'd have to be creative to motivate. This is a team where that won't be a problem. GameDay, that's why guys come to college to play in a game of this magnitude. I think our guys are going to be excited. It's a win-win for Clemson and a win-win for ESPN.

What is your comfort level with the kicking game?
Bowden: Last year we were kind of on a roll. But it's something we can recapture and we've shown signs of that.

Talk a little about the Georgia Tech defense. It seems like they can create a lot of problems.
Bowden: They really do. A lot of teams are multiple front. They are multiple front and multiple pressure. They are not a real big team. They don't have a defensive lineman that ways over 300 pounds or 290. Something is always going to be coming at you coming from somewhere. That's unusual. Their defensive coordinator has a great track record. Probably the best compliment you could pay him came against Notre Dame. It's very hard to defend.

How much do you think James has improved in picking up the blitz and how important will that be for you on Saturday?
Bowden: It's going to be very important. He's improved a whole bunch. The different fronts will give him different reads.

What will it mean to have Reggie Merriweather back this week?
Bowden: He brings a different demeanor to our running attack. Reggie has power and some physical toughness to his running. The toughness and great vision are pretty good qualities to have. That's what we've been missing. He'll be a nice a change of pace. Going down the stretch, with injuries, having three running backs is pretty significant.

Is this as balanced as you can get offensively?
Bowden: I've mentioned before my preference would be 60-70 percent run to pass. Anytime you get way ahead your running numbers are going to get bigger. We've been able to do that. The Boston College game was a good indication of what we can do when we throw. Will threw for over 330 yards. It helps when you are balanced because when you go into a game where they try to take something away you have more options.

How do you defend a big wide receiver?
Bowden: If we can do what we did last year. Four catches for 46 yards. Unfortunately they are going to look at the film and make adjustments so I don't that we can do that.

With Calvin Johnson's size, is that tough to duplicate on your scout team this week during practice?
Bowden: Well yeah. We've taken our tallest wide receivers but yes it's tough duplicate. You can kind of cover the hitches, the slants and stuff like that but the deep balls are hard to duplicate. We are doing the best we can with what we've got.

Have you played a team this year that likes to bring as much pressure as Georgia Tech?
Bowden: No. They like four-man pressure and they will blitz. We've played really nobody with the percentage of times (where they blitz).

What's been the difference for your team this year in playing and beating teams you are supposed to beat?
Bowden: I think the philosophy of one game at a time and playing up to your potential. We weren't playing Temple, we were playing football. We try to improve in every phase of the game. We've got more seniors and got more experience and that kind of filters down. Of course we talk about that every year, but we've been able to not play down to the level of competition.

Is there any danger of getting your team too hyped for this game?
Bowden: There was very little emotion in the locker room after the Temple win. I don't think they will be too hyped. Obviously it's a game of emotion and energy. You can be too energized where it causes you to maybe not execute. But that hasn't been a problem for us. I know we've played lesser opponents but instead of scoring 30 we are scoring 60. Instead of scoring 25 we've scored 50.

Georgia Tech is driving for a game-winning score and has the ball at your 11-yard line late in the fourth quarter. Do you have Calvin Johnson in single coverage?
Bowden: I hope not. That's Vic's call. He did a pretty good job last year.

James Davis is out of Atlanta in Georgia Tech's backyard. Can you talk about what he's done for you here at Clemson?
Bowden: We've been talking about running the football running the football since I've been here. And then we hired a guy (Spence) that is known for doing that. We recruited him under the pretense taht you are going to be at the right place at the right time. He made the commitment and we had the system and the rest is history. I've been amazed how he's handled success. He doesn't have as solid a background as a lot of people do and he's really done well. He's a leader. He handles himself well with y'all (the media). He's really done good and matured in a bunch of areas.

It hasn't been this here at Clemson as far as ranked teams go since 1988. Can you talk about that?
Bowden: That's one of the reasons you take this job and this school has played in those kinds of games in the past. Once a year you'd like to be under consideration to have GameDay come here because of a game.

Do you approach this game the same exact way as you do Temple?
Bowden: I think you have educate the team that you've got two good teams statistically. You can't have mistakes in the kicking game. We approach it different in that regard. And you also approach it from the respect that you aren't going to go out there and have the kind of success you've had (in previous weeks). You are going to tackle them for a loss but they are also going to tackle you for a loss.

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