Bowden Press Conference Notes

CLEMSON - Head coach Tommy Bowden met with the media Tuesday to preview Saturday's game against archrival South Carolina.

With the team coming back from a week off, how are things looking at practice.
Bowden: We had a good practice yesterday. It was very spirited. This week is a little more exciting.

Is it any different because this week is Thanksgiving. Do guys have to get their minds around the fact this is a
Bowden: I think Thanksgiving day they are going to know things are a little different. Just like Christmas Day last year at the bowl game was a little bit different.

You said yesterday that South Carolina may not respect your passing game Saturday. What do you have to do to change that?
Bowden: Complete some balls. We have to have better success than we've had in the passing game. I think that one of the successes of the passing game centers around unpredictability. When you do do it, you have to be productive.

So what's the bottom line on how you are going to improve your passing game and what does Will Proctor have to do in particular.
Bowden: Execute. Whether you want to call it productivity efficiency. And because of the last three games I'm sure they are going to challenge us. And plus they are a pretty good defense. Going after the right guy at the right time.

What do you think the confidence of your team is like going into Saturday's game.
Bowden: Good. Anytime you get involved rivalry … we've played this game under several scenarios. Winning a few before. Losing before. Confidence level of both teams is generally pretty high going into this game because of Last year I think they won five games in a row in the SEC for the first time in the history of the school. They had all the momentum in the world and we won. So momentum and confidence level to me

Blake Mitchell appears to be clicking on cylinders right now but there is a chance that Syvelle Newton could play quarterback as well. How much more difficult is it to prepare for two quarterbacks?
Bowden: When you have to have to plans …it's more challenging. I think Vic said he'll have something different for Syvelle if he goes in. Anytime you multiple schemes there's more of a chance for error.

You've dominated this rivalry since you've been here. How does that make you feel knowing you've had that much success?
Bowden: Surprise more so than anything. But again I've mentioned several times these things can be cyclical. The pendulum usually swings. I wish we could keep it up every year but that's not going to happen. I don't know. Other than the fact that you watch any rivalry usually they go in cycle. Usually it comes down to somebody making a play. The Rod Gardner catch.

Do you remember what it was like to lose that game after the 2001 season and what things were like on the IPTAY circuit the following year?
Bowden: It's definitely more difficult because that is the biggest game for the IPTAY circuit. Lately I've been hearing more about Wake Forest. But this is in-state

What area do you think South Carolina has an advantage and what area do you think Clemson has an advantage in this game?
Bowden: They throw the ball better than we do downfield. Quicker strikes. Sidney Rice … I don't know if we have a receiver with his kind of ability with his height. Right now Blake Mitchell is pretty hot throwing it and we have a pretty productive running game. I think in a game like this … it's going to come down to their receivers, quarterbacks, running backs making more plays and ours making plays or our defenses making one or two more stops.

What do you see with their defense that they are doing well right now?
Bowden: They play hard. Good tacklers. They play a lot of man free. They are pretty sound in gap assignments. They are real sound in scheme in gap assignment and they are good tackler. Anytime you play man free you can bring more so the quarterback is usually throwing under pressure.

If you were to lose this game, would you consider this a disappointing season?
Bowden: I don't think it would. We are closer now to being more competitive in the years I've been here. We've got nine starters coming back on defense. We've played a tough little schedule and been successful. I think we are doing some things defensively, back to back (years). We have shown more consistency the last two years. Bottom line is wins and losses. But if you look at the statistics we are becoming more consistent. We will eventually get to nine or 10 win seasons. Eight wins I'm sure not going to slit my wrists. I may have to avoid some shots. I try to look at the whole picture and say, ‘are we making progress/. Rush offense no. 1, passing efficiency No. 2, scoring defense No. 3 … players we have coming back.

Is it more disappointing this year to see that Wake Forest or Maryland could win the ACC when FSU is down?
Bowden: All of that proves the window of opportunity is going to be there every year. I see it more in that light more than disappointment

Do bring up the brawl at all this week?
Bowden: Really don't talk about it. They were penalized pretty heavily. More so than any team in the history of college football. They missed that bowl money (that year) and they like that money better than fighting.

Before the N.C. State game, Chuck Amato elected to wait to come out on the field until after your team came down the hill. Do you think Spurrier will do the same thing?
Bowden: That's not his M.O. (laughing) He might be on the hill behind us. I think the ACC is trying to restrict the teams from going beyond the 20 or 25 (yard line) but I can't tell them what to do.

This would be the first time in 66 years that back to back senior classes
Bowden: It means a lot to the seniors. You can only win four games in a row if you are a player. In saying that, they also have guys on their team that have never won. As much as they would like to win one, they've got guys on their team that haven't won one. I see it as equal motivation.

Do you have a little more pep in your step this week knowing you are going against a future Hall of Fame coach?
Bowden: I think coaches are competitors, pretty much like players. But the fact he calls the plays he'll have more of a factor. But again, most coaches are competitors and they want to win regardless.

Your ability to keep them out of the end zone last year, how special was that for you and this team?
Bowden: At that particular time, Florida State didn't score against that defense. But that was a year ago. It was big last year. They remember November. I don't think much about it.

Where does Gaines Adams rank in your mind as some of the great players you've coached?
Bowden: Reminds me of Derrick Thomas at Alabama. Reminds me very much of him. Speed, quickness off the edge. Open field ability. He's got a good chance to catch a skill guy in the open field. Physically Gaines might be a little taller. Derrick Thomas was a little faster, quicker.

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