Bowden Press Conference Notes

CLEMSON - Head coach Tommy Bowden met with the media Tuesday to discuss Saturday's game against Maryland.

Maryland doesn't rank high in many offensive and defensive yet they are 6-2 this year. How do you explain that?
Bowden: Well I remember listening to Ralph Friedgen talk before their game against FSU and I think he talked really strongly about being able to run the ball and not turn the ball over. There's a lot of parity in the league and so far he's done that. They are solid on defense. They may not be nationally ranked defensively. But they aren't turning the ball over and playing field position. They are 6-2 and it's working well for them.

Any worries about Will's play and do you sit down and talk to them this week? And also why aren't Cullen Harper and Tribble Reese more realistic options for you at this point?
Bowden: Well, you know we talked about that some last night. I think he's throwing 53% the last three conference games which just happened to be against all top 25 teams. All good teams. He's a first year player. He's never played before. He's second in the ACC in passing efficiency. I think I need to be realistic. We look at the experience he has what he has accomplished and then evaluate him after that as opposed to hand picking statistics. The other guys, Cullen and Tribble have made tremendous progress. Will's performance has not been poor enough to warrant a change but both of those guys have shown they have what it takes to be successful against this level of competition. We are going to have execute the forward pass better in the next three games better than the last three or we are going to have difficulty because the defenses we are getting to face are better than Temple or Louisiana Tech.

After looking at the Virginia Tech game what did they do to stop your running game?
Bowden: I think the key part of the Virginia Tech game and then I got hit the head and we didn't score another point. There's no doubt that's a key element in the game.

You mentioned the performance against Georgia Tech as a ‘flash in the pan,' is that a motivator for you this week playing against Maryland, trying to prove that it wasn't just something that came and left you quickly?
Bowden: I used that analogy Wednesday night when I talked to the team. So when you say is that a way to motivate, I tried that last week and it didn't seem to work. So I'll have to go to Plan B.

With all the young guys that you play, are you worried about any lingering affects of the Virginia Tech game?
Bowden: We talked about that yesterday. If you look at these seniors, they've won games at the end of the season. Now this is a different team, but those teams didn't start fast but this one has. This is the game to find out. We won a game lost a game, won six and now we've lost one. So this is a defining moment for this team. It's a challenge.

Were you angry with your inability to not run the ball against their eight-man front Thursday night?
Bowden: Probably, I wouldn't say angry but more frustrating and disappointing. But as much as I say we were playing an awfully good team and a good defense. I don't want to take anything away from their team their staff and their players. But when that happens, you have to execute the forward pass better than we did. I wouldn't say angry. More disappointed that I didn't get it done as their head coach. But we used to have the No. 1 rusher in the conference now we don't. We used to have the No. 1 defense in the conference, now we don't. So those are other motivating factors we'll mention this week.

What is Chris Cosh do defensively?
Bowden: I think he's fairly complex. You know, as far as what he does up front and with coverages. They don't play a whole lot of man. They do some things like Georgia Tech with the three-deep three-under pressure. His corners are fairly aggressive. They'll challenge the short throws. They've got a good little package. They were a good defense before the other guy left and now he's added his own personality. I know statistically they aren't ranked very high in many areas but West Virginia skewed a lot of those statistics.

After practice yesterday, did you get the sense that the team's spirits are rebounding?
Bowden: I didn't get a bad feeling. As we've mentioned before, the players are more resilient than what the coaches are. I thought we practiced really well. They did pretty good for a Monday. They pretty much had three days off (before Monday).

Have you had the talk with the team that you still do have a realistic shot at winning the ACC Championship this year, despite losing to Virginia Tech?
Bowden: Yes. This is the first time after we've played nine games and I've talked about what's still left on the table. After we play N.C. State there is nine more conference games left. A lot of things can happen with nine games left after we finish. We have two more conference games and Boston College and Wake still have four. Our players are aware of that. But we didn't talk much about it because if we don't beat Maryland it doesn't mean anything. And Maryland is right there because they have no divisional losses. So they have the same elements to play for as we do.

Why bring that up now after nine games if you had never done that before?
Bowden: Well we are getting towards the end of the conference. I thought the timing was good. We lost a game and we've got two conference games left at home. I just thought the timing was good.

There are some similarities between what Will is going through now and what Willie Simmons was going through in 2002. Is the difference that you don't have a Charlie Whitehurst waiting in the wings?
Bowden: No Charlie was a freshman that never played. So I don't know that I don't. Some of the errors that were made back then were different than the errors made now. There was some ball security issues there when he was scrambling. Little bit of a different scenario now. Little bit more of an execution problem then.

Is Proctor sharp in practice?
Bowden: Yeah he's pretty sharp in practice. But again that's kind of easy to do because of the scout team guys.

Does he have any mechanical problems?
Bowden: No, I think it was just execution. It wasn't so much mechanical.

Do you think he got rattled against Virginia Tech?
Bowden: I don't know if he got rattled or not. I think it's not so much rattling as it is experience. He's a first year player that is making first year mistakes and decisions.

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