Massive Tuesday Notebook

CLEMSON – In the course of three weeks, the Clemson football team has gone from having the most prolific scoring attack in the nation to one where fans, players and media are asking if it's too conservative.

Monday night, Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden he didn't think the offensive play calling was conservative at all. Tuesday night, offensive coordinator Rob Spence took those same thoughts to an entirely new level.

"If you ask, most people probably think that I wasn't conservative enough and should have run the ball more … run it differently and run it more," he said. "There's a lot of schools of thought. I'm sure there's about 80,000 opinions on that. … I did the best I could given the situations that we were presented with."

Nonetheless, it is a fact that Clemson hasn't scored a touchdown in the last seven quarters and just one over the last 127 minutes of play.

Red zone problems are all of a sudden an issue with the Tigers offense, which has one of the best running games in the country.

"I really don't have an explanation," Spence said of the recent woes. "I really don't know. I think that's just the way it goes occasionally. You hit slumps. You just got to keep plugging away and keep attacking and keep doing things that you know and believe in."

When asked if he thought it was comical that he is being questioned about the conservatism on offense much in the same fashion as he was last year, Spence didn't crack a smile.

"If you want to come in sit in my chair for a couple of days, you wouldn't be laughing too hard," he said. "I hate to use the term ‘coincidence,' but it's part of coaching offense. You're not going to be super every single week. It demands a lot of detail, a lot of attention, a lot of skill working together and a lot of timing and sometimes that escapes you."

Shaky confidence
For the first time, a member of the coaching staff admitted that senior quarterback Will Proctor's confidence was shaken pretty hard after the Virginia Tech game, which likely contributed to his substandard performance in the first half against Maryland.

"I think when you play any kind of sport and you go through a dry spell, I think the confidence becomes an issue," Spence said. "It becomes an issue for anybody in anything that you do when you don't experience success. You have to be able to work through that.

"After you've played a long time and played through those moments, you understand that you're going to get through it and that you're going to achieve the things that you dreamed of and hoped for. But that takes experiences. That's where Charlie had been through some of those things and this is the first occasion that Will has had to experience anything like that."

Since the Virginia Tech game, Spence has gone back to basics with Proctor. Over the last two weeks, the two have worked a bunch on Proctor's footwork in dropping back and in how he plants his feet when throwing. Spence called them "basic fundamentals."

The way Proctor played play in the second half on Saturday should spring new life into him for this week, Spence said. He was real pleased with the way Proctor handled ran the offense.

Spence said that his own confidence is Proctor has never swayed and that he never thought about putting in backup Cullen Harper to try and spark the offense.

"Cullen is going to be an outstanding football player, but Will is still our quarterback," Spence said. "There haven't been any thoughts to that extent and it has nothing to do with Cullen. It's just my belief in Will Proctor. I'll tell you right now that I believe in Cullen. I believe in all of them. I have some excellent prospects at quarterback, but I have a strong belief in who's leading our team right now."

Eating their own
As he walked off the field Saturday afternoon after Maryland had just won the game on a last-second field goal, Vic Koenning got peppered with insults and vulgarity by angry Clemson fans.

If that wasn't bad enough, Koenning said that he received a phone call from a Tigers fan and complete stranger Monday night to tell him how to improve the defense and be ready for South Carolina.

"I had a guy last night with an 803 area code – I don't know how he got my cell phone (number) – called and (left a message saying) do this and move Gaines around and South Carolina does this and South Carolina does that," Koenning said "Then he said, ‘Good luck in searching for a new job.'

"I called it right back and he didn't answer (and left a message). I said that it was good advice about South Carolina and that we do move Gaines around. He's about 55 percent to the field and about 45 percent to the boundry. I told him that we're seventh in total defense and we can get better, but whatever is going to happen is going to happen."

Koenning was then asked if the stranger had been mean or belligerent in his message.

"It was nothing like what I got called walking off the field," he said. "But that's part of it. Those people are frustrated and they're upset. I know (Tommy Bowden) is hurting and I know I'm hurting and I know our players are hurting."

He was then asked if the insults were directed only at him or if there was also yelling at the player, as well as what were some of the insults.

"I just happened to hear the ones that had ‘Koenning' attached to them," he said. "You can't put them in the paper. They weren't probably any worse than what my dad called me growing up sometimes."

Koenning said that was the first time Tiger fans had done that in Death Valley. He then added that after the Wake Forest loss last year that he received tons of emails and phone calls from Clemson fans showing their displeasure.

Spence was asked if he heard any insults hurled his way.

"I only heard the pounding of my heart and the disappointment that I felt inside," he said. "That's what I heard and that's what I felt." Top Stories